Even if you’re the owner of the smallest of small businesses, you still need to know how to do market research. And you need to know how to do it with what few resources you have at your disposal.
Here’s the thing. Market research can make or break your business. And I exaggerate not.
Here are the kinds of questions you’ll want the answers to in order to position your business correctly, figure out the right products and services to offer, and squarely beat your competition:
- Who buys from you?
- How often do they buy?
- How much do they buy?
- When do they buy?
- Why do they buy?
- Why don’t they buy?
You also want to figure out
- What makes you different?
- Who exactly is your competition, anyway?
- What’s the overall market look like?
- What direction should your business be taking?
Market research ought to be something you do on a daily basis.
There’s always more to discover, more to learn about your business. And the more you know, the more successful you’ll be.
So where do you start? Especially if you don’t have a budget for market research, or you’re concerned about how much time you’ll need to devote to it.
My recommendation is to start with resources that are already at your disposal. The most often overlooked resource, and one of the most valuable, is your list of existing customers.
You simply need to talk to them.
Sounds obvious, right? But when was the last time you really had a conversation with a customer? Not a quick interaction when they last bought something from you, but a real dialogue.
Your current customers have so much to tell you. Ask them outright why they buy from you. Go ahead, I dare you.
But before you do, write down all the reasons you can think of. Do they buy because you’re local? Because you have a better selection? Because you offer better service?
Brainstorm a complete list and then rate it according to what you think will be he most popular answers.
Now, every time you’re in contact with one of your customers, start up a conversation and write down what they say. Over time (and sometimes right there on the spot) you’ll have light bulb moments when something they say will make a lot of sense for your business.
So start now. Do some market research with almost no budget. Get talking and get listening. It’s easy if you know how.