The more you know about your industry and local market, the better you’ll be able to serve your customers and grow your business. Market research is the primary technique for finding out what customers want and what services you can provide to meet market needs. Good market research requires adherence to established practices and avoidance of three common mistakes that can give you invalid data.
Basic Market Research Tactics
- Primary and secondary research:
Primary research involves going directly to existing customers and asking them what services they would find most useful and appealing. Your primary research methods could include direct interviews, questionnaires, surveys, or even simple inquiries by sales staff or service providers. Secondary research involves assessment and analysis of existing data from other sources, such as industry journals, newspaper reports, white papers or research results from other companies within your industry.
- Quantitative and qualitative data: Quantitative data is measurable information that can be subjected to mathematical analysis. To be effective, quantitative data must be acquired from a large sample of customers and respondents. Qualitative data is more subjective and may include non-numerical responses such as service preferences, complaints or requests.
Three Mistakes to Avoid
- Surveying only known sources: It may be tempting to rely on colleagues, friends and family members for research data, but their responses may be unrealistically skewed in your favor. Ask questions of real customers, even those who may have been difficult to work with in the past.
- Relying only on secondary research: Published data and industry sources are perfectly valid sources of information, but they may not accurately portray your individual company’s situation. Primary research is the only reliable way to find out what your current customers want, need and expect.
- Using only online resources: Again, online data can be very useful, but it may not reflect conditions in your local area or your specific business. Expand your research to include reference books, state and local business resources or Chambers of Commerce, industry-wide organizations and local colleges.
How can you change and revise your market research tactics to avoid the mistakes that will weaken your research and give invalid results?
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