Market research is the backbone of every company if it wants to maintain and grow profitability. Yet many companies ignore their market research, or don’t do any at all. However, whether you’re selling a new insurance product, or want to set up an art gallery in Bastakiya, research is the key ingredient to success.
At its core, market research is all about finding out what people love and hate about your company. If you’re founding a new business, your market research is aimed at finding out whether people actually want what you are planning to sell.
Market research gives isn’t just an exercise, it can have a powerful impact on your business, helping you make difficult decisions because you are armed with the knowledge to back up your arguments.
For those who’ve never done any market research the humble questionnaire is still considered a highly effective way to learn about your customers. There are many online tools to help you set up a detailed set of questions to help you better understand how your company is perceived by the people who buy your products.
Be honest with your questions though. Give people the opportunity to rate your business. Ask them what they like and don’t like. Where they feel there is room for improvement.What’s the best thing you’ve ever done, and the worst. Ask how your products impact on their lives. How long they’ve been a customer, and most importantly what they feel you can do to make improvements that will make their lives better.
The questionnaire is also a great way to find out what customers feel about your competition. Are they doing a better job than you? Is there something you are doing much better than they are? By asking the questions you can improve your position in the market.
You may not like all the answers you see, but you may find that the negative feedback you receive on a particular product is also being seen in the annual sales figures for that product. And if people have left comments on why they don’t like it, you can make a more informed decision on the future of that particular line in your business.
Conversely, lots of love for a particular product may give you the confidence to put more marketing budget into promoting it beyond your current customer base.
Market research doesn’t have to be something you actively go out and do. One of the most amazingly truthful, and free, market research tools is customer feedback. This can come through social media (Twitter and Facebook are great for finding out what people are saying about your brand), emails, letters, and recorded telephone calls.
Where some companies go wrong with this type of market research is that they embrace the good and ignore the bad. But they shouldn’t. Negative feedback is a fantastic opportunity to see what customers really don’t like about your products, services, or business. The comments are usually honest – although you should have a system in place to sift out the trolls. By reading what customers are saying you can develop ways to make improvements, or even set about designing a new product that serves their needs better.
To get the most out of market research, you have to be tough enough to read the answers and do something about it. Don’t leave it languishing on your hard drive – face up to the challenges it provokes.