When you decide to start or improve your business, the best place to begin is doing market research. Market research is so important to your success. You need to do it before starting and continuously throughout the lifetime of your business. But, don’t make these mistakes.
* Using the Wrong Research – You have to step outside your expectations when you conduct market research. Don’t only study information that matches your assumptions, because you could be wrong. Even if you service or sell products to people you think are just like you and you’re in your own target market, your experiences are subjective and not indicative of the experiences of others.
* Avoiding Primary Research – Knowing the market size, how it’s performing, and other information readily available to you is considered secondary research. And while it is good information, you need to also get information directly from your audience about your business. Being able to ask your target market directly about their thoughts, feelings, and actions can go far in helping you make good decisions.
* Not Researching the Competition – Your competition is very important in your market research, because they likely sell to your audience. Knowing how they do things and who they do it with, and everything you can about how they do business, will help you do it just a little bit better. Differentiation is the key when it comes to winning against your competition.
* Using Poor Reference Materials – It’s important to understand what constitutes good research and what constitutes poor research. There are some legitimate places to research using the internet and some that aren’t. The best places to look are within scholarly research via university approved publications. Be careful about using materials put out by propagandists.
* Not Researching Your Audience – It’s best to get access to a list of people who are definitely within your target audience. You can do this via list-building exercises, or you can locate your audience in your competition’s groups and message boards. The more you can communicate with your audience directly and ask them the right questions, the better.
* Using Out-of-Date Data – This is very important because even when the demographics stay the same, people change and grow with time. For example, the company Olay doesn’t market their beauty products to their audience the same way today as they did in the 1980s. Their product really hasn’t changed much, but they have to market to their demographic differently so they don’t offend them. You should do the same and avoid using out-of-date information.
* Not Using the Market Research – Believe it or not, many business owners don’t even bother using any type of market research at all. They just stick with their assumptions and move forward. This is a huge mistake. When you conduct market research, you may confirm or completely defy your expectations.
* Not Asking the Right Questions – When you start with market research, ensure that you’re asking the right questions when you conduct surveys. Creating a good survey is a talent that can be learned. You must phrase the questions correctly, read about survey question mistakes and learn how you can do better.
Remember that market research doesn’t really ever end. Even when you complete the initial research you’ll need to continue with it throughout the lifetime of your business. Because, as mentioned before, even if your actual market demographics don’t change, they do. They start using different technology, and their opinions and outlook on life evolve with every generation. Market research can help you keep up.