Market research helps you get to know your customer better so that you can better connect to their needs and ensure your products and services align with them. Sounds simple, right? It can be! Many companies hire outside organizations to do their market research, but researching your customer and your competitors can get pricey if you’re a small business with a limited budget. Luckily, you can have a direct line to both your customers and your competitors. Here are three DIY market research hacks that won’t break the bank.
Do Your Own Competitive Analysis
Simply put, a competitive analysis is a profile of your competitors. When you do this type of market research, you look at your competitors’ products, services, marketing, messaging, etc. to determine what makes your product or service stand out from the pack (i.e. what is your unique selling proposition?).
You can do this by looking through your competitors’ websites, social media platforms, and even their customer reviews to find out what your competitor is doing right, and what they could be doing better. This will help you improve your marketing strategy and also allow you to offer your customers what other companies can’t, putting you ahead of the game.
Understanding your competitors is key to defining your brand’s position in the mind of your customers. If you want help getting started, I offer a Competitor Cheat Sheet with all of the tools you need to identify the messaging and and positioning of your peers in order to truly set your business and messaging up for success.
Distribute A Customer Survey
One thing most business owners don’t realize is that they have a direct line of communication with their customers, every day. You have the ability to ask your customers exactly what they think about your products and services, including what they like and dislike—and you can do it for free.
There are a ton of free services available for distributing surveys, such as SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. Create a survey that encourages customers to provide honest feedback to gain an idea of what you’re doing right and what you could improve on. You could even incentivize your customers to complete the survey by providing a discount or promotional code for anyone who participates.
Not sure what to ask? Get in touch for a quick 15-minute brainstorm on the best quantitative and qualitative questions to ask for your business.
Host A Focus Group
Let’s be real—people love to give their opinions, especially when they know they’ll be listened to. Similar to a customer survey, you can host a virtual or in-person focus group with a handful of your customers and ask them about their experiences working with you.
You can ask questions like:
- What did you like about working with our company?
- What made you want to work with our company over another?
- What was your experience working with us?
- Are there things we could have done differently?
- If there was one thing you could improve about your experience with us, what would it be?
- What types of products and/or services would you like to see in the future?
Focus groups are a great way to pick your customers’ brains and deeply understand your target audience. Again, you can always incentivize people with discounts, promo codes, or even freebies/cash.
The bottom line is that market research doesn’t have to destroy your budget to be effective. Sure, the Coca Colas and Verizon’s of the world spend hundreds of thousands of dollars researching their customers and competitors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t gain good insight without totally emptying your pockets. You can get great customer feedback for next to nothing while making your products, services and marketing better than ever.
If you’re ready to get started, check out my Competitor Cheat Sheet to get a leg up on your marketing research game.