Small Business Marketing Tips – Market Research

Small Business Marketing Tips – Market Research: Market research is something that all small businesses should be doing, and it covers a wide range of things, from competitor analysis and keeping a track of your industry on a larger scale, to understanding your individual customers and trying to keep ahead of their expectations. {Tweet}

Small Business Marketing Tips – Market Research

Small Business Marketing Tips – Market Research: You can keep track of industry news and competitors quickly and easily.

Some of this can be done on your own – there’s no reason why, for instance, you can’t view your competitions’ website and keep track of their news articles and press releases, or why you can’t search Google for some key words you think they might be using and see how they rank for them. Similarly, everyone can afford to subscribe to at least one industry magazine, or to spend a few minutes a day browsing industry websites – even just looking at the headlines will give you a good feel for what the key trends are. Easier still, sign up to email newsletters from industry news sites and have the articles delivered direct to your inbox. {Tweet}

However, there are some areas of market research where small businesses really should be looking to invest. All too often, DIY research results in misleading findings due to poorly thought out or poorly structured questionnaires, or because businesses have simply asked the wrong questions, or the wrong people.

Using a free online survey tool to conduct a 40 question survey with 100 members of the general public is absolutely pointless if your company sells circuit boards to games console manufacturers. In fact, you’re probably better spending a few days calling people at these companies, asking to speak to the person in charge of buying circuit boards, and asking them a few carefully considered questions about their experience of other companies, what would make their life easier, and what they’d like to see in a new product.

Although that said, you’re probably not that much better off. They probably won’t speak to you.

The Argument for Using A Pro

Let’s take the example of accounting. Quite a lot of small businesses can do the day to day elements of keeping track of income and expenditure, calculating estimates of profit and loss, and having a fair idea of cash flow and how much they need to make to break even. This is the daily checking of the news websites, keeping an eye on your competitors, signing up to some email alerts.

Very few small business owners are qualified or confident enough to complete their full set of accounts and submit them to HMRC without atleast having someone check them over. A friend of mine works for an accountancy firm, and the vast majority of their clients are small businesses and SMEs who want to insure that they don’t get fined by HMRC for mis-filed accounts.

Ironically, the fines from HMRC are actually likely to be less than the potential losses from entering a new market unprepared, trying to communicate the benefits of a product to the wrong audience in the wrong way, or spending time and money creating a service that there is no call for. The potential losses for this are, particularly in the long term, enourmous.

In short, when it comes to the big questions about your business, it can often be worth investing in a professional market research agency or consultant – or at least paying them to check over your thoughts if you really can’t afford to invest in having someone else carry out the fieldwork. It may be more expensive in the short term than doing it yourself, but as they say:

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” {Tweet}

 

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