3 Steps to market research to benefit your business

Delivering what your customers want matters. Learn how market research can help you.

You want to develop a new product, but how can you be sure it’ll reflect your customers’ wants and needs? Here’s where market research comes in.

It starts with gathering information around your buyers, to help you get to know them. Once you have these insights, you can understand how new products might land, how existing products are being received, see where customers are likely to view your ads, or understand how they perceive your brand. It’s the first step to tailoring your product or service to them and their preferences. After all, without your customers, you don’t have a business, so meeting their needs is essential.

Ready to understand your customers on a deeper level, and start speaking their language? Here are three steps you should take.

Step #1: Find out who your target audience is

You’ll need to get an understanding of your target audience, including their age, gender, location, job, lifestyle, income, and what they tend to buy. How can you find this out? It starts with some first-hand research: look at your existing customers, identify their problems and priorities, and the steps they take when choosing to buy. Next, do the same exercise with people you’d like to turn into customers. That way, you can tailor your approach and product or service to them too.

Step #2: Make a plan

Once you’ve defined your target audience, you can start getting to know them better. Decide which method(s) will work best for you and your business.

Here are some options:

  • Send out a survey

Are you looking to launch a new t-shirt colour? Or perhaps a new brownie flavour? Ask questions that will tell you which colour or flavour is likely to be most successful. And make sure you ask open-ended questions, like ‘tell us what you like most about our product’, to gather as much insight as possible.

You can run surveys for free using platforms like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. Or, run polls on channels like Instagram and Twitter to hear from existing loyal customers and engaged prospective customers. And remember to post the winning result so they can see the outcome and how they contributed to it.

You can also think about offering customers an incentive to complete your survey. This could be as simple as running a prize draw and gifting a voucher to one lucky winner, and it can encourage responses.

  • Gather focus groups

This means gathering a group of customers – virtually or in person, for an open discussion around your product, service, or business. With your customer literally in front of you, don’t be shy: ask questions and encourage conversation among the group, to learn more about their thoughts and opinions.

If you choose this route, it’s important to establish a safe space as, unlike a survey, a focus group is anything but anonymous. Consider offering an incentive to encourage participation, too. You can learn more about running a focus group here.

  • Do some social listening

Social listening can help you understand what kind of real-time, honest conversations are being had about your business and competitors on social media. You can use platforms like Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, to search your business name or related hashtags. The downside to this is that it can end up taking a long time. But the great news is there are platforms that can cut out some of the manual work. Sprout Social and Hootsuite both offer a free trial, so you can try before you buy.

Step #3: Review your findings

Organise the research you’ve collected into categories related to your original questions, then look to identify patterns. If you asked which colours your customers prefer, see which was named the most often. These patterns can help you tweak your product or service in line with your customer’s preferences.

All businesses should invest in collecting customer research data. After all, businesses that use data to be customer-centric are 60% more profitable than those that don’t. Although you can outsource data collection, by taking on market research yourself, you’ll get to know your customers first-hand, giving you an even better understanding of exactly what motivates them to buy.

Whichever route you decide to take, understanding your customers’ problems and preferences, will help inform you to make better decisions for your business. But don’t forget, if you are reaching out to your customers for market research you must be GDPR compliant and have the right permissions in place to do so.

If you need some help making a start, our V-Hub Digital Advisers are on-hand to offer free, tailored support.

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