Market research should be done for your business on a regular basis and fully implemented into your marketing schedules / plans. When done properly, market research can be used to your advantage to both reach your target audience and increasing your sales through strategic marketing campaigns. Even though this is fairly common knowledge, it is important to always remember that knowledge is power. The research can help you out with more then just the obvious:
It can help reduces a risk in your business decisions;
It can help identify how customers view your business and brand;
Understanding the needs of your customer market segments;
Monitors the level of competition in your market;
Recognizes new areas for expansion, and increase your customer base by identifying new market segments;
Allows you to expand your business into the optimal locations, based on local segments and demographics;
Helps to set achievable targets for business growth, sales, and latest product developments.
How to conduct market research?
Before you begin, start thinking of the goals you want for your business. For example, picking a new business location. Once you have your mission established, then start thinking a strategy and select techniques you will use to gather information. We like to look at research methods you could pick, as proprietary, and third-party research methods.
These two methods, as we identify them, are not typical groupings utilized when talking about market research; however, in efforts to simplify the choices, we feel the two groups can cover the essential requirements for most SMO Companies.
Proprietary Research involves information that a business can obtain on its own through the companies IT infrastructure, Database, and Company Systems. Third-party research involves going out to find public information or from hiring a marketing research agency. We believe that both methods should be utilized and built into your business model.
Proprietary information is valuable to both create value in your business, but also to get information that only you can get. Only you will be able to effectivly collect your customers information (through POS, email lists, etc.). This information can be used to create customer profiles, market segments... it can be used for pretty much any insights that you can possibly think of.
At the same time, it is valuable to get an outside opinion once in a while. To verify your data against public census and demographic tools. Also to get third party advise from agencies capable of providing controlled research, demographic studies, surveys and focus groups.
In the end, the information you gather is extremely valuable and should be relied upon to help make business decisions, it might end up to be the difference that is keeping you ahead of your competition.