If you run a small business, you surely know about the connection you can have with your customers. There’s a certain feeling of community and camaraderie amongst local shop owners and local customers. It probably has something to do with the increasing number of giant corporations like Walgreens and Walmart. You don’t get to know your pharmacist or your grocer at stores like this, you only get what you need and get out. Granted, large corporations have made it easier and quicker for consumers to get what they want, but they’ve also lost touch with the very people they’re supposed to be helping.
This is where your small business comes in. Where large companies and major department stores leave off, your small business can swoop in and bring a personal touch to your customers. Not only will your customers appreciate the level of customer service, but also your community will support you in turn. But to truly reach these customers, you mush perform market research.
While companies like Walgreens and Walmart are already doing market research, you might think it’s silly for a small business with a limited budget and a lot more face-to-face time with customers to invest in something like market research. However, there is still a lot to learn about your customers, where they shop, why they shop, and how they shop. And with market research, you can conform your business to the very needs of the people who will be patronizing it.
Why Do Market Research?
While this is a complicated question, there is a short and sweet answer: money. With the results and analysis of market research, you can save your company hundreds, even thousands of dollars from marketing in the wrong ways to the wrong people. Market research can also help you get more money because you will be able to cater to your customers. So at the very basic foundation of this question, market research equals money.
But there’s a lot more to market research than just money. The U.S. Small Business association states that market research also lends itself to reducing risks in business, assisting in spotting problems in your industry, and helping to identify sales opportunities. In short, market research can help you keep your customers happy and will therefore help you stay in business longer. Now that you have a better understanding of market research, is it really a viable question to ask why your small business needs it? Probably not.
How To Market Research
So now we come to the big question, the real question. How can your small business afford to do market research without going under? While many professional firms will do market research for you, they are costly, take a lot of time, and probably overkill for your small business. What you need is a basic foundation to create advertising and other marketing offers that speaks loud and clear to your customers. Luckily, most of this can be done from your computer.
Start by researching your industry. I would be surprised to find any industry in America that didn’t have a magazine, journal, or even a blog that talked about the latest trends, issues, problems, and solutions. Look for companies that are in your situation, have been in your situation, and companies you want to be like. Identifying the steps they took to market to their customers and then refitting them for your own business is basically free marketing advice that someone else has already tried for you. Of course, take it with a grain of salt but in general, you can learn a lot from another company’s mistakes and successes.
Next, you should research your customers themselves. Through social media, online surveys, email campaigns, direct mail, and even in face-to-face conversations. Ask them about their shopping experience, what needs you have fulfilled, and which needs you haven’t. Look for similarities between multiple customers and try to identify a trend or a reason. You certainly won’t be able to cater to every customer out there, but you’ll be able to keep most of them happy.
As a side note, you should stray away from holding too many focus groups that involve family members and close friends. They are obviously the first to participate because they have a personal interest in your success, but that also means they might hold back the truth.
Market research is vital for businesses regardless of how big or small they are, how deep their pockets go, or how long they’ve been around. With the right data and analysis, you can deduce a lot of helpful information about your customers and how you can advertise to them even better. Treating your customers exactly as they’d like to be treated will only lead to happy, long-term relationships with customers that will keep on coming back and will continuously refer you to friends and family. Your business might be small, but there’s a lot of market research out there to turn it into the big success you’ve been hoping for.
Pete Wise is a copywriter working for Luminar Insights, asource of latino analytics and insights on the web. If you are looking for a reliable source of hispanic data, go to their website to learn more. When I’m not writing articles, I’m posting to my LinkedIn page.