6 Market Research Tips for Shoestring Businesses



Every experienced business owner knows that market research is one of the most important phase for achieving long-term success and winning customer’s loyalty.

Doesn’t matter whether you operate a large, small or even an online business, conducting market research is compulsory in order to gain more information into consumer behavior, which in turn will help concluding your next strategic business move.

However, some businesses argue that they can’t afford additional budget for market research. The fact is, there are numerous ways and methods you can still use to get the benefits of a good market research effort. Here are six practical methods those with tight purse strings can try as soon as possible.

1. Analysing competitor’s marketing approach

Evaluate your competitor’s marketing approach and compare it against your own to find out what your customers prefer and what they are attracted to the most. Make a list of what your competitors do differently. Do they have lower price points? Free shipping? Great customer service? Loyalty cards? Money back guarantees? Quarterly discounts? Show this list to a handful of your most loyal customers — 10 to 20 should be enough, and ask which specific features they like from competitors or your method. Ask for feedback. Use this to decide which to change in your current tactic and whether you should stick with it, and then iterate.

2. Utilise your database

The customer insight you need might be right there on your records, waiting to be discovered. Your database can help you figure out who your ideal customer is, and what makes them different or special. Start by identifying three common traits among your current customers. Profile them. To borrow Seth Godin’s term, this is your “tribe.” The more you know about their needs and wants, the better you’ll be in solving their most pressing concerns.

3. One question survey for your mailing list

Email is a wonderful thing, and if you’re website that has been around long enough to gain some followers, why not send them a quick market research question? The key here is to keep it simple and easy. No 100-page lengthy essay type questionnaires, just one or two questions they can just as easily send back to you. Email 20 or more subscribers that you can keep track of, and use it and gather everything to add, revise, or improve your current marketing approach.

4. Examine and test your marketing materials

If you have an ongoing campaign or several marketing collateral partners that you’re using, go out there and get feedback from others. Reach out to customers, colleagues, employees, partners, and collaborators. Ask if the message was clear? What pops out in the collateral partners? Does it excite them or not?

5. Create an online group / forum

Start creating an online platform through your website or use one or several social media accounts to create a community. Engage with followers and take note of any feedback. Community management is one of the least expensive ways to get a window into what customers think and feel about your brand, and get direct feedback from your most loyal customers.

6. Recruit marketing students

This is a win-win strategy. If there ever was one, you’ll get to test your approach and employ budding marketers on the one hand. On the other hand, the students get to fulfill their school requirements and can benefit from exploring marketing theories on an actual business.