A huge part of running your own business has to do with marketing and sales, but it all starts with the product itself—the thing you’re selling. If the product isn’t something that people want, then you can’t sell it, no matter how hard you try. To avoid this pitfall, it’s crucial to conduct extensive market research before you begin selling your product or service. Here are five commandments to keep in mind while conducting DIY market research.
Mindset is everything
It may sound cliché, but people really do vote with their wallets. When you conduct market research, try to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and truly understand what they need. Once you identify a problem (or several problems), come up with ways to solve them (or how your product can solve them). Next, do some digging into what existing solutions are already out there—and which ones you might be able to outperform in order to win over your customers. It sounds like a tall order at first, but once you’ve finished conducting your research and start looking for patterns across target markets or geographies, it gets much easier. Once again, mind-maps will help map out all these connections as well as any new ideas that pop up along the way.
Identify your target customers
The first thing you want to do is make sure that your customers exist and are potential buyers for your product. You don’t want to be in a situation where you are working hard on making a product nobody wants. Determine what resources you will need: If you have money, then hiring a firm may be an option for getting customer research done. If not, figure out who will help in return for more time or compensation later on. For example, if you know people at local universities with focus groups (sometimes called seminars), they may provide feedback if they feel they can get more time or money later on.
Think like an investor
Instead of looking at a market through your own eyes, it can be helpful to think like an investor. Business owners often start off with a product or service in mind and that’s a good thing because it means you have something to sell. But don’t stop there. Asking yourself questions like how big is my target market? and what other products or services already exist in my space? can help you do more than just survive in your industry—it can help you thrive. For example, if your company only serves businesses with over $1 million in revenue, look for opportunities to branch out into other markets that might interest you as well.
Collect data and make it actionable
Data collection is just as important as analysing data. Surveys can be a great way to get feedback from customers, but make sure you’re also doing something with that information. If you don’t do anything with your data after collecting it, then your survey isn’t worth its weight in paper (or online). There are a few different ways to handle collecting market research and compiling it into actionable items: You can conduct surveys with customers through Google Forms or SurveyMonkey, set up an email follow-up campaign where you ask questions over email to get instant answers, or you can use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to gather opinions and insights on whatever topic is being discussed.
Share your findings
Now that you’ve completed your research, it’s time to share what you learned with others. If you’re presenting at a conference or event, try having a conversation with people in your industry and asking their opinions on your findings. You can also use online discussion boards to get feedback from people who aren’t involved in your field. By putting together a survey that focuses on one aspect of market research at a time, you can gather more information than would ever be possible through an interview or casual conversation alone. It will also make sharing easier because all of your data is stored in one location instead of spread across different platforms.