Nearly every business, large and small, requires effective marketing campaigns in some form in order to be financially viable. Depending on the size and demand of your business, conducting the market research necessary to produce an effective campaign can be costly. Doing so will pay off in the long run, as you gain vital information about your audience, competitors and price points. But solid market research doesn't have to be expensive, especially if you run a small business, where margins are slimmer.
Below are some simple strategies to reduce costs and maximize market research results.
Put your tax dollars to work. The Department of Small Business Administration (SBA) was established with the small business owner in mind. It makes it easy to conduct your initial market research by providing free and current information about consumer statistics, demographics, economic indicators and much more. You can find this and other information for free at SBA.gov.
When in doubt, ask. The cheapest, easiest and most direct way to conduct market research is to ask your customers or clients the questions that matter to the health of your business. Survey platforms like Google Drive and Survey Monkey are available at a relatively low cost. But even without one of these platforms, you should consider asking for feedback yourself. Turn to social media as a platform to post polls, questionnaires and to monitor feedback. Asking the questions yourself minimizes cost and allows you total control over what information you gather.
Become an analyst. With the meteoric rise of analytic tools, it is now easier than ever for a business owner to collect data about the market. Using free, easy-to-use tools like Google Analytics, it is possible to measure web traffic, including demographic information, on a daily basis. If you are not already using Google Analytics in your market research plan, give it a try. You may find that it quickly becomes indispensable.
Know that there is not one solution to conducting effective market research. Chances are good that no matter what your industry or client base, you will have to use a combination of marketing tools, such as the ones listed above, to get a truly holistic picture of your market. To be successful, you should continuously utilize multiple tools to collect market data, taking care to focus in on the information that most directly affects your bottom line.
Emma Sledge is a freelance writer. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.
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