When embarking on a new initiative, project, or marketing campaign, it’s important to understand the significance of market research. By conducting market research, you can gain valuable insights about your target audience, including their age range, gender, and preferences regarding the products or services you offer.
With this information, you can tailor your approach to better resonate with your target audience and increase your chances of success. It’s vital to prioritize market research to ensure your firm’s success and to determine if your message would be well-received by your intended audience.
Identify Your Buyer Personas
Understanding your target market is a crucial step in determining their purchasing behavior. This is where buyer personas come into play. Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers, also known as marketing personas.
They are incredibly useful in visualizing your audience, improving communication, and developing effective strategies. When creating your buyer personas, it’s essential to include specific traits that accurately represent your target market.
By using these personas as a guide, you can better understand and effectively reach your actual audience members. It’s important to note that your company may fit into multiple personas, and that’s perfectly fine.
Just keep each persona in mind when planning, optimizing, and developing your content and campaigns. Check out some free business plan templates and a practical tool to get started with creating your buyer personas.
Tip: Check out my article on Starting a Freight Brokerage
Engage a Persona Group
After identifying your buyer personas, it’s essential to leverage that knowledge to select a group of people to interview for your market research. The group you select should be a representative sample of your target customers, allowing you to gain deeper insights into their actual characteristics, pain points, and purchasing behaviors.
When selecting participants, it’s important to include individuals who have recently made a purchase, as well as those who have chosen not to make a purchase. This will give you a more complete picture of your target market and help you better understand their decision-making process.
Finding the right person to conduct market research
When selecting participants for your market research, it’s important to focus on individuals who fit the criteria of your buyer persona. We recommend aiming for 10 people per buyer persona. While we suggest focusing on only one persona if you feel it’s essential to study multiple personas, be sure to gather a distinct sample group for each one.
People with whom you have recently interacted
If your sales cycle is longer or you have a niche market, it may be beneficial to focus on users who have conducted evaluations within the past six months, or even up to a year. It’s important that their experience is recent since you’ll be asking them detailed questions. This will help ensure that the information you gather is accurate and reflective of the current state of your target market.
Mix up the participants
When selecting participants for your market research, it’s important to consider individuals who have purchased your product, a competitor’s product, or no product at all. Gathering information from individuals who are not yet consumers can provide a balanced understanding of your market, even though they may be the easiest to locate and attract. We’ve provided additional information below to help you choose the right combination of participants for your market research.
Choose the right Combination
- To gather a list of recent customers, you can run a report of deals that closed during the last six months using a CRM system and filter it for the criteria you need. If you don’t have access to a CRM system, you can collaborate with your sales staff to obtain a list of suitable accounts. Additionally, you can identify customers who have made a purchase but are in an active evaluation phase, whether they purchased from a rival or decided not to. You can obtain this list from your CRM or from the deal-tracking software your sales staff employs
- Another option to consider is reaching out to people who follow you on social media but chose not to make a purchase from you. It’s possible that some of them will be open to speaking with you and sharing the reasons why they eventually chose not to purchase your goods.
- Utilize your own network by informing your coworkers, ex-coworkers, and connections on LinkedIn that you are conducting a study. Even if your immediate connections are not eligible, some of them may know someone who is.
- It’s important to consider what incentives you can offer to persuade someone to devote 30 to 45 minutes to you and your research, especially since time is limited. If you have a limited budget, participants can receive free rewards by being granted special access to content. If you have more options available, you can simply handwrite a “thank you” message and send it once the study is over.
Assess the size of your market
After identifying and talking to your target market in person, it’s crucial to determine whether your market is large enough to support your business. If the number of potential customers isn’t enough to sustain your business and compete with others, you may need to rethink your product or service offering. For instance, if your target market only consists of a few thousand potential customers, you’ll need to sell at a high price or sell to them frequently to make your business profitable and sustainable.
To determine the size of your market, conducting research is essential. You can use resources available online to estimate the number of people who meet the demographic, psychographic, and location criteria that you’ve defined in the previous steps of identifying your target market. Links to these resources are provided at the end of this article to assist you in this process.
Industry research is an essential step when you plan to enter an established market that already has well-established competitors. For example, if you’re starting a new business in the cell phone or sports drink industry, you need to know how much consumers purchase from currently available offerings to gauge the potential market size.
To get an idea of the market size in such cases, you should search for industry reports and read trade journals for your industry, as the market size is often summarized in these publications.
Ask your market research participants research questions
To ensure that you make the most out of your market research discussions, preparation is key. It’s important to create a discussion guide that covers all relevant topics and helps you manage your time efficiently, whether you’re conducting a focus group, online survey, or phone interview.
However, the guide should not be used as a script as the conversations should be casual and conversational, with room for digressions and additional questions. The guide should be structured as an outline, with open-ended questions for each section and allotted time for each topic.
Wait, all open-ended questions?
Asking open-ended questions is crucial in market research. Yes/no questions can inadvertently bias respondents by leading them to a particular answer, so it is important to avoid “leading the witness.” Open-ended questions encourage respondents to provide more detailed and informative answers, rather than simple one-word responses that may not provide enough useful information.
Background Information (5 Minutes)
Before diving into the main questions, it’s important to gather some background information from the buyer, such as their job title and tenure with the company. To break the ice, start with a light-hearted or simple question such as their favorite restaurant in town, last vacation, or the first concert they attended.
While some basic information like age and location may be available through your contact list, there are personal and professional details that can only be obtained by asking direct questions.
You should also ask your target audience the following background questions:
- Begin with a light-hearted or simple question to break the ice and get the conversation flowing.
- Request basic background information such as their job title and length of employment with the company.
- Ask specific questions about their role and responsibilities within the organization.
- Inquire about the team’s objectives and how they evaluate them.
- Ask about any recent obstacles they have faced.
- Transition to the specific purchase or engagement that led to their inclusion in the study, and focus on their buyer’s journey for the next stage.
To better understand your audience, it’s important to know how they first realized they had a challenge that required a solution, regardless of whether they were familiar with your brand at that time.
Think back to the moment when you first recognized the need for a product or service in a specific category (excluding your own).
- What challenges did you face at that time?
- How did you become aware that a product in that category could be beneficial to you?
- How knowledgeable were you about the various options available in the market?
Describe the buyer’s method of research and the websites they visited in great detail at this point. Get ready to speak out and ask for more details.
- What action did you take initially to research potential solutions? How exactly helpful was this source?
- Where did you search for further information?
If they don’t come up naturally, inquire about search engines, websites visited, people consulted, etc. If more research is required, pose some of the following queries:
- Where did you find the source, exactly?
- which online shops did you use?
- What specific search terms did you enter into Google?
- How much of a help was it? How could it be improved?
- Who provided the most (and least) helpful information? How did that seem to be?
- Describe your interactions with the salespeople from each vendor in detail.
Which of the sources you listed above had the greatest impact on your choice?
- What criteria, if any, did you establish to assess the options?
- What advantages and disadvantages did the shortlisted vendors have?
- Who else took part in the final decision-making process? What role did each of these people play?
- What factors ultimately influenced your decision to buy?
The buyer may have had a better experience if he or she had known what could have been done.
- Find out what might be included in their ideal purchasing process. What would be unique compared to what they now have?
- Give them time to ask any other questions they may have.
- Don’t forget to thank them for their time and gather their address so you can send them a reward or thank-you note.
Provide a list of your primary competitors.
Identify your principal competitors, but bear in mind that it’s not always a simple case of Company X vs. Company Y.
A division of a company occasionally may compete with your main product or service, even though that company may have a brand that focuses more on another field.
a case study. Apple is well-known for its computers and mobile devices, but Spotify rivals Apple Music in terms of music streaming services.
You can face competition for inbound website traffic from a blog, YouTube channel, or other media even if their products are completely unrelated to yours.
Also, even though Health.com and Prevention don’t actually sell oral care products, toothpaste manufacturers might compete with them on particular blog topics like hygiene and health.
To locate competitors whose products or services are comparable to yours, select the industry or sectors you plan to target. Utilize general terms like “education,” “construction,” “media & entertainment,” “food service,” “healthcare,” “retail,” “financial services,” “telecommunications,” and “agriculture” at the beginning of your essay.
Choose an industry term that you can connect to, then list the companies that operate in that sector. The techniques listed below can help you create your list:
- Get a free market report: Organizations like Forrester and Gartner offer free and paid market forecasts on the vendors who control their industry every year. For instance, on the Forrester website, you can select “Latest Research” from the navigation bar and use a number of filters to go through the company’s most current information. These reports ought to be kept on your computer.
- Social media can be used to search: Social networks are wonderful corporate directories if you know how to use the search box, despite how unbelievable it may seem. In the search box on LinkedIn, for instance, type the name of the industry you’re interested in. Choose “Companies” under “More” to restrict your results to only the organizations with this or a related industry phrase on their LinkedIn profiles.
Competitors’ content identification
Search engines are your best allies when conducting secondary market research. In order to find the online publications with whom you compete, take the general industry term you identified in the section above and come up with a few extra specific industry phrases your company identifies with.
For instance, in addition to offering “food service” in general, a catering business may also identify itself as a vendor for “event catering,” “cake catering,” “baked products,” and other services.
Once you have this list, do the following:
- Google it: Checking out the websites that come up when you conduct a Google search for the terms that best represent your company is crucial, so don’t discount its significance. There could be a range of product makers, blogs, publications, and other sources.
- Analyze your search results based on your buyer persona: Go back to the buyer profile you created previously in this article while conducting primary research. Use it to analyze whether a newspaper you found on Google is likely to steal visitors from your website. The website in issue should be on your list of competitors if the content it publishes seems to be relevant to your buyer persona.
Check for duplication in the domains of the websites that have shown up as a result of a number of similar Google searches for the terms related to your sector.
Search results should be examined on the first two or three pages. They are definitely respected for the information they provide in your sector, therefore you should pay close attention to them when compiling your own collection of movies, reports, web pages, and blog entries.
Write a summary of the findings.
Having a hard time keeping track of all your notes? In order to create a story and assemble a list of suggestions, we advise looking for recurrent themes.
Create a report using your favorite presentation software to make the process simpler. It will be simple to include quotes, diagrams, or call clips as a result.
Although you are free to add your own flare, the format mentioned below should make your summary very clear:
- Background: The aim of the research and your goals.
- Participants: With a table, you can divide groups according to personas and customers/prospects.
- Executive Summary: What interesting insights did you gain from your research? What are your next steps?
- Awareness: A comprehensive evaluation is usually prompted by various factors, and the use of quotes can be particularly impactful.
- Consideration: Please outline the primary themes you identified during your research and the information sources that buyers commonly utilize.
- Decision: Be sure to highlight the individuals who hold the greatest sway and any product features or details that can affect an actual purchasing decision.
- Action Plan: Based on your findings, you may have identified several campaigns that can enhance brand exposure and effectiveness in reaching potential buyers earlier. Please provide a prioritized list of initiatives, a timeline, and how the effort will impact your business.
How does marketing research work?
Through interviews with prospective customers, market research examines the viability of a new product or service. This method can be used by businesses or organizations to determine their target market, collect and record feedback, and arrive at informed conclusions.
Businesses and organizations can conduct market research themselves, or they can hire specialized firms to do it on their behalf.
Market research can be done in a variety of methods, including implementing surveys, conducting interviews, interacting with samples of people, and other similar activities.
Understanding or evaluating the market for a specific commodity or service and predicting how the target market will react to it are the basic objectives of market research. Market research data can be used to create unique marketing and advertising strategies, as well as to pinpoint the aspects that customers value the most and any unmet service demands.
In marketing, a lot more research is conducted. Every one of the four marketing Ps is covered, including place. It covers a wide range of subjects, some of which market research would either completely avoid or barely mildly touch:
- Exploration of a new product
- Developing a product
- Researching advertising methods
- Understanding customer needs and preferences
- Determining product pricing
- Sales strategies and techniques
- Choosing distribution channels
- Public relations efforts.
In summary, marketing research looks at how a good or service is created, positioned, and develops through time, as well as how its market is growing and how its branding evolves from brand recognition to, ideally, brand equity.
Since it emphasizes Place, market research is a crucial part of marketing research. Saying that market research is a subset of marketing research is the best way to phrase it would be accurate.
A typical marketing research process is as follows
- Establishing research objectives, exploring alternative options, and addressing concerns
- Developing a comprehensive research plan
- Gathering relevant information
- Collecting accurate and reliable data
- Analyzing data and organizing information for better understanding
- Presenting research findings and insights
- Utilizing the research to make informed decisions.
Market research is a crucial component of any organization. Company owners and managers use it to research client preferences and improve goods and services. They can develop and improve products and services, as well as marketing plans to connect with potential customers, by leveraging the data from market research.