If there was one piece of advice I could give my younger self, it would be to research my target market better. It is something which is often overlooked, especially by small startups that don’t have the funds to allocate, but it is as vital for the success of a business as knowing your flight details before catching a plane! You may think you have the greatest of ideas, a unique and extremely necessary product or service, but if you don’t market it well then it won’t sell. If there isn’t a demand for it, it won’t sell. Proper market research is also an integral part of any business plan.
Take Segway; a futuristic product which was created to replace the motor vehicle in city centres. No doubt that it is ten times cooler than walking, but also comes at a hefty price. So hefty in fact that was it not for its niche client base refocusing to police forces and city tours, it would have been a total flop. Back in its research days, the team believed they had an incredible product, but their market research was not done well. One reason might be that they didn’t ask all the right questions.
Before starting your market research, ask yourself these questions:
Do I know who my target market is?
You might know this from beforehand and if you do, that’s great. The results of your research should confirm this information or it might point you in a different direction. If you do not know who your target audience is, then guess, to a certain realistic point. An invitations maker can, for example, guess that the target market is young adults 20-35 who are soon to be married and parents, 25-40 who are planning children’s parties. Therefore the invitations maker will focus the research on these age groups. This can vary depending on your business, area and culture.
Where can I get in contact with the greatest number of people from my target market?
This will help you identify the best option to carry out the research. Taking the invitations maker again, one place where many brides- and grooms-to-be congregate is on dedicated social media pages. If travellers are your key market a safe bet is that you’ll find many at an airport. Every group of people has something in common and probably a meeting place, virtual or physical. The key is finding the right place where you can, with little effort, find many people from your target market.
What answers are vital to show that the business, product or service will most probably succeed?
Ask the right questions, get the right answers. Sounds easy enough! Remember that it takes time to carry out research and then to decipher it. It also takes time for the respondent to answer you, therefore you cannot ask too many questions. Get straight to the point. Would the respondent use your product or service? What price (offer different options) would he/she be ready to pay? How long would they be ready to wait? Do they use a similar product or service? What is missing?
How many people should your interview research?
Ideally, all your target market! Realistically though, as many as possible. The more answers you have the easier it is to build the recipe for your product’s (or service’s) success. You could consider outsourcing your market research project, though you need to keep in mind the added costs.
It is also a very good idea to give respondents a special discount or a freebie in exchange for their contact details so that when your product or service launches you would already have a mailing list ready and waiting.