This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.
Maybe you’ve heard coaches or marketing gurus talk about market research but weren’t sure what it meant or how to do it. So many microbusiness owners are overwhelmed by the idea of market research, and they don’t need to be. Worse, they think it’s going to cost and arm and leg. There are plenty of resources available to get that market research on the cheap.
I know my business is the awesome-sauce. Why waste time doing research?
Market research involves to collecting and analyzing data that can help you make key decisions that impact the viability of your microbusiness. Understanding your industry, your competitors and your customers is key to small business success.
Bestie Real Talk: Your business is your baby. Of course you think it’s the cutest, smartest, and best baby in the history of babies. Your opinion is not objective. And the opinions of the president and vice president of your fan club, the people who think you are amazing, talented and OMG, destined to be a huge success, are not objective.
Cheerleaders are amazing, and we all need them. But their roll is to keep spirits high at all times. Cheerleaders cheer loudly whether the team is up by 30 points or down by 30 points.
Market Research has no pompoms. Market research looks at the cold hard facts.
Two Types of Market Research
There are two main types of research: primary and secondary.
Primary research involves collecting first-hand information from actual human beings. Primary research can be useful for consumer insights.
Types of Primary Research Include:
- Focus Groups
Secondary research focuses on utilizing data and public records instead of first-hand knowledge. Secondary research is useful for competitive and industry research.
Market Research on the Cheap: Tools
There are a variety of free tools available to small business owners.
- The Small Business Administration’s website features a collection of resources offering free access to business and economic statistics collected by the U.S. Government.
- Statista is the mack daddy of industry data and statistics. While the paid version is pricey, it is possible to get industry insights without signing up for a paid account.
- Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis, and other empirical social science research to inform the public about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping the world.
- Think With Google has a variety of tools to see trending topics in search.
- Social Mention is a social media search platform that aggregates user-generated content from across the web into a single stream of information to see industry trends and topics.
- For competitive online research, several paid tools offer a limited number of free searches, including UberSuggest, BuzzSumo, and SEMRush.
Essential Market Research for the Microbusiness Owner
- SWOT Analysis: A SWOT analysis outlines your company’s strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats within your industry.
- Competitive Analysis: A dive into your competition so you can analyze their strengths and weaknesses. Competitive analysis doesn’t have to be overwhelming or difficult. An afternoon on Google can give you plenty of information on your top competitors.
- Customer Satisfaction: Getting feedback from your existing customers on their satisfaction can assist with your overall marketing and can provide insight on how to increase their lifetime value through loyalty or reward programs.
Tips for Effective Consumer Research
- Determine the purpose of your research and keep your questions relevant to that purpose, especially on surveys. Getting thoughtful answers to five questions is more powerful than getting quick answers to 20 questions.
- Your best research will come from people who have engaged with your or your competitor’s product/service and are within your buyer persona.
- Ask open-ended questions. You never know what information someone will share with you when given the chance.
- For interviews, prepare in advance, but keep the format loose. The interview should feel like a conversation and not an interrogation.