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Your small business marketing strategy should always include market research in order to be profitable and competitive. In order to create a business model that speaks to your target market, you must first do your homework. Below are five key steps you should take to conduct useful and effective market research.

If your small business marketing strategy includes building a website (as it most likely should), read my article 10 Key Steps To Building A Great Small Business Website.

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1. Define your market research goal

Think about what exactly you are trying to gain from your market research. Some examples of market research goals include:

  • Find out if your product or service is priced appropriately against the competition
  • Discover if your product or service meets the target market’s needs
  • Plan the best way to market the product or service
  • Create an optimal brand that speaks effectively to your target market

Once you know your goal(s), you can gather information from primary and secondary sources that will give you clues to how you should proceed. Your research can lead you to unexpected places so it is important to focus on your goals when analyzing data to avoid wasting precious time and resources.

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2. Create a market research plan

You’ll need to create a unique plan that will support your goals. Figure out the best ways to gather information that is accurate and relevant to your needs.

Use primary and secondary sources

Primary sources of market research are gathered firsthand. Examples of primary sources include:

  • Online surveys
  • Phone interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Product/service tests

Keep in mind that the data from primary sources can be skewed if the sample of information is too small, so try and get as large a response as possible.

Secondary sources are available online by means of reports and data. It can be easier to collect higher quantities of this type of source, and it also may be more relevant since it can often represent a larger amount of information than primary sources. Examples of secondary sources include:

  • Academic institution data
  • Government data
  • Trade association data
  • Trade publications
  • Or, you can hire an agency that specializes in collecting market data such as MarketResearch.com

I recommend that you get a mix of both types of data so you have as big a picture as possible.

Make sure to share your findings with your team to get their opinions, unless you are working solo.

Identify your primary target market

Data you may want to collect about your target market includes:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Income
  • Education level
  • Family/Relationship Status
  • Career industry
  • Job title
  • Interests/hobbies
  • Pain points
  • Life goals

Explore additional target markets

Your product or service may have multiple target markets. Make sure to collect all relevant data on any market that would be interested in your business.

Create target market profiles

Write detailed profiles for each target market so you can get a true sense of what kind of people you need to reach and what will work for them.

Scope out your competition

Take note of the following information about your top competitors:

  • Value proposition
  • Pricing structure
  • Branding
  • Marketing
  • Promotions
  • Social Media

Services like Spyfu can assist you in analyzing your competition’s keyword ranking and ads.

You’ll want to use this data to make sure your business is superior to your competition in the eyes of your target market(s).

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3. Analyze the data

See how the data stands up against your goals. How can you use the data to guide your decision making when devising your plan? Is your product or service a good fit for your target market? How can you modify your product, service, branding, or marketing so that it best fits into the lives of the people you are trying to reach?

It is beneficial to perform a SWOT analysis of your business. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. How does your data support these four aspects of your business?

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4. Create a course of action

Use the data you’ve collected that supports your goal(s) and craft a plan. You may need to share your plan with your team to get their opinions or approval.

You’ll want to include in your plan what your research discovered about your target market, how to use that information to reach your goal, and how this course of action will benefit the business. You should also include a point to determine if you should go in another direction in case your plan doesn’t work out, and try and figure out why.

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5. Focus your small business marketing strategy on your findings

Make sure your marketing aligns strategically with the right target market, using the data you’ve compiled, analyzed, and applied.

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Conclusion

Market research is an excellent way to educate you and your team about who your target market is, what they experience, and what they need. Every business would be wise to conduct market research in order to have an edge in the marketplace.

If you need help conducting market research for your brand and/or marketing, please contact me today.

Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or comments about market research and I’ll be sure to reply.

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Photos courtesy of Unsplash.com.