The Basics of Conducting Market Research for Business

Fri, May 18, 2012


When it comes to having a successful business, there’s no way that can happen without doing continual marketing research. This is because that is what provides you with the information that you need in order to be able to assess the competition that is currently out there, the needs that your customers have, and the economic conditions within your specific marketplace.

If you have a start-up company or you’re new to the basics of conducting market research when it comes to your business, here are some tips to get your well on your way.

Plan to Make a Plan

“Market Research” is a far broader term than most people would assume. Therefore, it’s a good idea to map out a plan of what you want your particular set of reports to reveal. For many business owners, they are looking for things like what they can do to reduce business risks within their company, how they can properly identify sales opportunities, plans of action that can be taken to grow their business and reach more customers, and ways to spot (and prevent) any problems within their market. So, when it comes to creating your own plan, the first recommendation is to do some extensive research when it comes to how market research plans are developed, especially within your particular line of business.

Where Do You Begin Getting Data?

A thorough report is not filled with personal opinions, perspectives or assumptions. They actual have facts, statistics, flow charts and data. When it comes to information on various kinds of businesses and industries, along with the country’s current economic condition, the federal government has a lot of the material that you would need to get started with your marketing research plan. If you’re looking for specific sources, the Small Business Administration (SBA.gov), MarketResearch.com and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) are all websites that can provide you with a wealth of knowledge. If you need data on the international marketplace, Export.gov and BuyUSA.gov can assist you with ways to expand your business to places overseas. If you’re setting up (or transitioning over) your company to be more eco-friendly, TalktheWalk.net, Eco-Labels.org and ResourceSaver.org have reports on their websites that specifically cater to the “go green” movement.

What Should the Plan Look Like?

As it relates to developing your plan, market research experts have several suggestions on how to make one that will prove to be most effective. First, get a three ring binder because your report should be separated into quarterly findings. Secondly, make sure to leave space in each of those sections for putting in monthly sales reports. Thirdly, because a plan should cover the minimum time of one year, you need to allow yourself at least a couple of months to pen your marketing research plan. This gives you time to gather data and have the relevant people within your company review the information as well. For instance, if you have a consultant company that specializes in e-business and you want to do research on how many successful entrepreneurs have degrees from online executive MBA programs, that is not the kind of information that you’ll be able to find in a week. Bottom line, a thorough market research plan, especially for the first 10-14 months, is a continual work in progress. Be clear, be detailed and be consistent. Chances are, it will be a source of information for your business that you will refer to for years to come; research that will help you in going to the next level.

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