Market research is an essential component of any business, large or small. It helps identify trends as well as gaps in products or services, and it keeps you up-to-date on anything going on within your industry that can affect sales. However, there are certainly some mistakes that you'll want to avoid while doing market research. Here are nine of the most common ones.
Mistake #1 –
You set a budget that’s too high or too low
When you’re paying for research, you don’t want to spend too much money or too little money. One of the things you can do is first check to see what research is already available and whether or not you can use it.
If you can use what’s already there, you can save a lot of money. But, if the things you want to know aren’t out there yet, get bids to get an idea of the cost.
You can also use software like Survey Monkey to conduct some of the research and only hire a researcher to help you decide the questions.
Mistake #2 –
You don’t have a plan
There’s that “p” word again! But, it’s critical when doing research of any kind to know what you want to research before you start.
Create questions that you need to know the answers for. It also helps to know why you want those answers and how they’ll affect your business before you start.
Mistake #3 –
You use the wrong sources
There are millions, if not billions, of sources online. That doesn’t mean they’re all good or trustworthy.
Always check your facts, and learn to tell the reliable sources from the unreliable ones.
Mistake #4 –
You don’t research your competitors
Competitor research is a must when doing market research. If you don’t know what others in your niche are doing, how will you know where to position yourself.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” Even though your competitors are not really enemies, you do need to know what they’re doing.
Mistake #5 –
You don’t know who your target audience is
This should be the first thing you research. If you don’t know who your target market is, you’re just guessing at everything else.
There’s a reason that every marketing course I’ve ever taken starts with defining your target audience. You won’t be able to ask the right questions, and even if you do manage to get the right questions the answers won’t make sense if you’re not asking the right people.
Mistake #6 –
You don’t spend enough time on survey creation
One of the best ways to gather information is through surveys. But, if your survey is not well-designed, you won’t be able to gather usable data from it.
When you’re creating survey questions, it’s important to understand how to come up with good questions, clear wording, a coherent order for your questions, and the type of answers your respondents are allowed to give. For example, are you creating a multiple choice survey, a rating scale survey, or do you prefer your respondents to write out answers to your questions?
Mistake #7 –
You don’t tell anyone about your research
In order to get usable information, you need people to take your surveys or provide other information. That means you’ll need to get the word out and actually tell people about it.
If you already have a customer list or a newsletter list, ask them to take your survey and share it with others. You could also use paid ads, or a social media campaign to gather information and survey participants.
It does you absolutely no good to try and hide that you’re doing market research. That just makes you seem shady like a shady marketer, instead of as the expert you want to be seen as. You don’t have to tell people what your plans are, but you do need to give them some idea of what you’re going to do with the information they provide.
Mistake #8 –
You rely on only one source
A good experiment never has only one source. It’s the same for market research. One set of data is never enough to prove anything to you or anyone else. Make sure you use multiple sources if you want to get the best results.
Mistake #9 –
You don’t use the research once you have it
How many times have you researched something, and then never done anything with the information you’ve gathered?
Don’t look so shocked! It happens more often than you think.
But, there is no point at all in doing the research if you’re never going to use it. You want to make the best decisions you can for your business, and that means trusting the research to deliver the right answers even if they’re not the ones you want to hear.
I’ve seen more than one person get the research done, not like what the numbers tell them, and to ahead with what they wanted to do anyways. And believe me, it rarely works out.
So there you have it, common market research mistakes you’ll want to avoid making. If you can remove these from your research project, and focus on collecting accurate data and interpretation instead, you’ll have a strong foundation for a successful business.
Educating yourself about the market you work in will help you plan better, make better decisions, and stay one step ahead of your competition.