So, you have decided that you want to start a business but you are struggling to understand exactly what you want to offer or sell. Maybe you know what you want to sell but struggle with the implementation or the delivery.
Owning and operating a business can be overly complex at times, so this article will help you conduct a seamless marketing research process for your business.
What is marketing research?
Marketing research is a process that involves gathering and analyzing information about customers, competitors, and the market in general. It helps you make informed decisions by providing you with the data needed to understand your target audience, identify opportunities, and make solid choices about the products or services you wish to offer.
What is the marketing research process?
The marketing research process is a vital component of starting any business. It allows you as a business owner to understand target audience, identify market trends, and develop effective marketing strategies.
The marketing process put simply helps you understand who your business serves and how to best sell to them.
The process begins by identifying the issue you wish to solve and setting some research objectives. Once the objectives have been defined, a research program is developed, a sample is chosen, and information is gathered. Data is then collected, analyzed, and organized into a report that presents the findings.
A marketing research process is vital tool for businesses that want to grow and succeed. It allows you a much greater chance of effectively implementing your marketing strategy. By conducting a thorough marketing research process, businesses can ensure that they are well-positioned to succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
6 Step Marketing Research Process
- Identify a problem or opportunity
- Develop a research plan
- Gather information and data
- Analyze your findings
- Develop a strategy
- Take action
1. Identify A Problem or Opportunity
The first step in the process is very important as it sets the tone for the rest of your marketing research process. Here is where you want to identity the core solution you want to provide with your business. The solution starts with a problem and more specifically a problem that needs to be understood and diagnosed properly.
- Focus on “how’s” and “why’s” when thinking of a problem to address. ( i.e. how can we provide higher converting websites to self employed people or why do self employed professionals prefer a website over social media ? )
From the U.S. Census Bureau
Consider some of these statistics when choosing how to reach customers, build brand awareness, and price products or services.
2. Develop A Research Plan
Taking the time to develop a research plan for your marketing research process will help things stay organized and run more smoothly. I believe simplicity is key here especially for small business owners, solopreneurs, and those of us with small teams. Budget and scale can determine your options when developing this plan.
Focus on two main research methods to begin the process for collecting data: primary research and secondary research. Each pulls information in different ways to help inform the larger goal of marketing research process success.
Choose a research strategy that works for your team and aligns with the demographic you are targeting.
- Primary research. This looks like gathering original data through collection methods such as surveys or in-person interviews, then recording that data into a report. this method can be time consuming and costly but will give you an in depth look into your customer’s needs and pain pain points.
- Secondary research. Secondary research data involves gathering previously published and recorded information gleaned from other sources, such as research reports, websites, or government files. Most people start here and can draw a solid idea of what to do next with reports already available. The secondary research plan is much more cost effective.
3. Gather Information and Data
Once you have decided on what type of research you want to include in this process you can move forward with implementation. This stage is for learning and there is no right or wrong way to conduct a marketing research process.
Holding true to the fail fast principle could be valuable once you began to gather data and follow the numbers. Numbers have a funny way of showing you things you may have missed.
Now it’s time to collect data. Here are a few specific ways to do so:
- Surveys. Conducting a survey is an effective primary research method that can provide valuable feedback about consumer demands, current business practices, and market trends.
- A/B testing. This research methodology compares two or more versions of a variable. This variable could be a landing page, a social media post, a product prototype, etc.
- Social media polling. Setting up a social media poll can be an effective and inexpensive way to collect user data. I firmly believe in platforms like YouTube to gauge the public sentiment for your business goals or ideas.
- Interviews. Face-to-face or phone interviews can help companies assess consumer expectations from a brand. This is a pretty straight forward tactic but is always effective.
- Focus groups. Focus groups gather a select group of people together at one time based on demographics, buying history, or other factors to collect qualitative data about a particular product or service. The beauty in focus groups lies in being able to get various feedback at one time.
4. Analyze Your Findings
At this point in the marketing research process, you have a ton of information but no real understanding of what it all means. There are a number of ways you can break down the data to help it make sense for you and your team.
This part of the process enables entrepreneurs to understand their target audience better, validate assumptions, and identify emerging trends and opportunities. By scrutinizing the data, patterns and insights can be extracted, leading to tailored products or services, increased customer satisfaction, and strategic planning that positions the business ahead of the curve.
Moreover, data analysis aids in risk mitigation, resource allocation, and efficient resource utilization, contributing to overall business success (Marr, 2019).
Types of Analysis Within the Marketing Research Process
Involves the use of statistical measures such as mean, median, and mode to describe data
Example: Analyzing the average age and income of a target audience
Involves the identification of the causes and effects of a particular phenomenon or problem
Example: Identifying the reasons why a product is not performing well in the market
Involves the use of data and statistical algorithms to make predictions about future trends or behavior
Example: Using past sales data to predict future sales figures
Involves the use of data and statistical algorithms to recommend actions to take based on predicted outcomes
Example: Recommending a specific marketing strategy based on the predicted impact it will have on sales
5. Develop A Strategy
You have done the work of asking the hard questions and figuring out what these questions mean . Now it is time to develop an effective strategy for answering these questions.
Here is where you would develop a research report for reference and to make the information gathered very accessible and easy to understand. Think about how you want to empower your business with this information in your marketing strategies.
The unique information found through your research is used here to set up clear next steps.
6. Take Action
Once you’ve pinned down a strategy, it’s time to develop actionable plans that translate those findings into real-world changes. Depending on the scope of your research, these changes might be major strategic shifts or minor adjustments that optimize your overall business.
For example, if your marketing research identifies a problem with retaining a youth, you might need to rebrand your social media campaigns to appeal to a broader demographic. Alternatively, you could make a smaller adjustments, like offering extra promotions through platforms like Groupon to incentivize bargain hunters.
Because the market is constantly changing, it’s important to act on your research findings while they are still relevant, allowing you to make meaningful improvements to your business when it matters most.