Running your own business is a commitment. Surely, you would like to see your hard work…
Market research is traditionally carried out by specialists, and for bigger brands, using a market research company is the best way to obtain accurate data. But what about smaller businesses and startups? Chances are you don’t have the budget for a full market research project, but you still need to know what your prospective customers are thinking.
In the current economic climate, it’s incredibly difficult to get funding for a new company without a robust business plan; even a business credit card application can be a tough call. But with a little practice, you can use some of the speediest and most affordable methods used by professionals working in market research jobs.
1. The Online Survey
Surveys are one of the easiest ways to collect data from people online; many of the most popular survey providers like Survey Monkey offer a free package for basic use. But in order to use a survey effectively, you’ll need to eliminate as much bias as possible.
Survey design is all about getting the information you need without confusing or influencing the reader. Your questions should be short and written in simple language, and you should avoid including any questions that push the reader to answer in a certain way.
Take care to distribute your survey to a wide demographic; not just people who support your idea. Don’t send out your survey to family and friends; publishing your survey on social media is a good way to achieve a more random cross-section of strangers with unpredictable views.
2. The Business Forum
Looking for a less restrictive way to collect data? Industry forums often allow market research questions to be posted, providing you keep your query to a single thread.
Forums offer a couple of advantages. Firstly, they’re completely open, but targeted at the same time: choose your forum wisely and you’ll get very relevant data.
Secondly, your respondents are free to phrase their answers however makes sense to them, so you’ll have fewer problems from bias and loaded questions.
3. The Collaborative Blog
Blogs aren’t just useful for traffic building and link building purposes. Market research companies are also turning to blogs to gather highly relevant data from key audiences relating to their market.
By inviting people to blog on a topic, you’ll obtain very in-depth insights into what your market really thinks.
Using blogs is perhaps the most time-consuming method, and it does require some organisation and planning. You’ll need to recruit bloggers, provide them with a platform and develop a rigid schedule for blog posts to be added. You’ll also need to decide how to cope with drop-outs or poor quality input.
Blogging also takes time, so you might want to think about offering an incentive to compensate for your bloggers’ time. Remember: the incentive should not bias the blogger in any way, but it should motivate your writers to put time and thought into their material, which should then pay dividends when it comes to collecting data. Also, a social or collaborative interface can help to motivate your contributors.
The Power of Good Data
People looking for market research jobs tend to stress their keen eye for detail and ability to interpret statistics. Gathering, measuring and evaluating data certainly isn’t easy for the uninitiated. But by doing your own market research, you could make that next startup project or business idea an affordable reality.
Sam Wright is a writer working with Brand Republic, a leading resource for market research jobs.
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