Whether you’re running an online retail business, a bricks and mortar shop in a town, or a consultancy firm, the most important thing you need to do is understand your market. The people out there for you to sell to are you biggest resource, whatever you’re selling, and there’s no way for you to run a successful business unless you know who they are and what they want!

Learning about your market is vital, as it means you can optimise what you’re offering to meet the demand you’ve researched and quantified. Today we’re looking at a few different ways you can learn about your market.

Do It Yourself

One source of information about your market available to you right away – your own customers!

This is the best option if you’re planning on making a change that will affect people already loyally using your services, rather than trying to branch out into a new market. For example, if your costs have risen and you need to find a recoup them by raising prices, it’s worth surveying your existing customers, simply by putting a paper survey or link in with their orders, emailing your mailing list or simply handing out a questionnaire for customers in store to complete there and then.

This not only tells you how they are likely to react to any changes and allows you to balance what your customers want with what you need to do to balance the bottom line, it also gives your most loyal supporters a sense that their views are important, which is as important for keeping their custom as cutting prices!

Going to the Professionals

The limitation of the methods above are that you don’t have the reach to anyone who’s already not a customer. If you’re trying to reach a broader market, you need consumer intelligence from people who haven’t chosen you already.

Market research firms will cost you money but have the advantage of being specialised information gatherers who can reach a broad demographic spread of people, to get you the information you need.

If you’re planning to expand into a new market, whether that’s in a new geographic area, or accessing a new age group or income bracket, it would be foolish to plough ahead without getting some research commissioned to tell that a demand exists in these new markets.

Good research can also tell you how to appeal to these new customers: you need to adapt to your advertising materials to the values of this new market or you’ll waste resources on what appears to be a perfectly serviceable campaign which just doesn’t appeal to people as it should.

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