12/6/2011 1:03:00 PM Market Research – why and when to use it
By Giorgio Cagliero SCORE Counselor
Question: I attended a conference and one of the speakers stressed the importance of market research. Exactly what is it and how will it benefit my business?
Answer: Successful Market research is knowing what trends are specific to your particular area of the overall market. Basically it means that you find out what your customers want and then deliver it.
Wikipedia describes Market Research as, “the function that links the consumer, customer, and public to the marketer through information — information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process.” For a small business this can be as simple as a restaurateur watching what comes back into the kitchen for the trash barrel. If a particular dish is consistently ordered and then not eaten, it should be removed from the menu. Conversely if a specific dish proves to be a huge success then that dish can be used as a marketing opportunity to bring in more customers by offering it as a special or by possibly featuring it on a particular day of the week.
In an article for www.sbinfocanada.ask.com, Susan Ward advises, “market research isn’t just something you do when you’re working on your business plan and then shelve. Market research needs to be an integral, ongoing part of your business’ development.
“It’s crucial to analyze your market and target your clientele before you waste money on advertising that won’t get you the results you want. Market research is also critical before you spend time and money developing a new product or service.”
Most succinctly, marketing research is the orderly gathering of facts that affect your line of business and then acting on this information. It doesn’t require that you make a major financial investment by hiring a specialist, but it does require that you spend both time and thought to determine what works most effectively for your business and your customers. Successful entrepreneurs do it every day by talking with their customers to ascertain their needs, watching what they buy, and checking competitors advertising and comparing prices.
In a www.ehow.com article, How Does Market Research Help Small Businesses?, Gregory Hamel writes, “All small businesses need to be aware of their market niche, and the strengths they bring to their market; research helps a startup hone in on their niche and tailor their operations toward the market segment that is the most likely to buy their products and services. Even if a startup creates a superb product, they can easily fail if the market in their area does not care for the type of product offered.”
Hamel continues, “After the startup phase, ongoing market research helps small businesses by continually providing feedback that can be used to improve product and service offerings.”
Bear in mind that market research is not a perfect science. It registers what people like and don’t like and preferences can be influenced by hundreds of different factors. Your objective is to find out what your clients want and how best to promote what they want.
It is tough to sell people what they don’t want; conversely it is easy to sell people what they do want. In essence market research is finding out what people want and then giving it to them.
Be sure and draw on your SCORE counselor as a resource for how you can best conduct effective market research tailored for your small business.
SCORE is recruiting volunteer counselors in the Verde Valley. We offer a unique opportunity to become involved in your community, share your experience and leadership skills. Contact Northern Arizona SCORE. 928-778-7438, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.scorenaz.org.