As with any business, your product or service needs an audience before it can start selling. Finding your audience can best be done through market research but this sounds more complicated than it actually is. Here are some of the fundamentals of conducting market research without needing to hire expensive marketing consultants.
Answer a few simple questions
What is your selling point? In other words, what is the one thing that you believe makes your product or service unique? Relate this unique feature to the market that will find that type of quality appealing.
Relating to the first question, why should people buy your product? What value will it bring to their lives? A reason could be the fact that it requires little maintenance or that you offer free delivery. Often these reasons will help in determining who would be interested in your product.
To whom do you want to sell? This obviously differs from who you are actually selling to currently but this is the market you are aiming towards. Would you like only business owners, teenagers, housewives and so forth to buy your product?
Now that you have your answers
Focus on your core market. There is the danger of marketing to a too-broad audience meaning that you market to all and sundry with no distinguishing factors. There needs to be an ideal customer that you prefer to sell to or who you want to take an interest in your product. This ideal customer is your primary market. Your advertising should then focus its attention on this ideal customer. If other customers do buy your product you will later on be able to adjust your marketing to accommodate these people as you can then see that it appeals to a different market than you previously anticipated or could foresee.
Now it’s time to actually research your market and drill-down to the qualities that make up your target market. These qualities are made up of:
– Demographics: these factors can include age, income, gender, education, occupation, marital status, cultural background and more.
– Psychographics: these factors are more abstract than the previous ones. Here you have to look at values, personality, attitudes, lifestyles, hobbies, interests and so on.
Primary versus secondary sources
The best way to find out this type of information is from the primary source. In other words, ask the potential customers themselves. Call around to find out what makes your primary target market tick and what overwhelming qualities they possess. One can even ask businesses that have a similar product or service to yours what consistent qualities they have noticed in their clients.
Secondary research is another broad way in which to find out what your customers are like and where to find them. Secondary research encompasses anything that does not come directly from the source you are investigating. It might seem very obvious but many people do not think of it and that is looking to the Internet and your local library for information. Try to find associations that are related to your industry. These associations have publications that are extremely helpful for gathering market information.
Government publications are another way of researching your market. Most of their resources are free to use and easy to come by. Census bureaus are excellent ways of finding local demographics such as how many of your target market customers are located in a certain area or what type of income a particular area averages.
A relatively inexpensive way in which to gather market research is to ask college or university students to gather information for you in the form of surveys and questionnaires. They are often willing to work for a minimal fee and are eager to talk to people according to the questions you want answered.
Online sites that are very useful include Quirks.com (their resources section), LightspeedResearch.com, MarketResearch.com and Bizstats.com. On these resources you can find market research reports and white papers that have already been done or links to sites that have valuable market information relating to your industry.
Of course, there are professional online tools that one can use along with the tools we have mentioned above. A site like Zoomprospector.com helps you to choose the best location for your business based on market data. SurveyMonkey have a little-known service called SurveyMonkey Audience where they tap into their community of millions of users ready and willing to take surveys to answer your market research questions.
There are so many resources out there that are at the disposal of businesses that do not require expertise nor a large marketing budget. The only thing needed is initiative and a willingness to ask questions.