Starting a new company from scratch or moving an established company into a new market represents both a great challenge and opportunity for business owners. Unsurprisingly, the first hurdle any new business faces when moving into uncharted territory is that of conducting market research. After all, you wouldn’t plan a trip without first deciding on a route, budget, and destination; nor should you play fast and loose with your marketing strategies. Here then are three steps every business owner should look to follow when forming a marketing research approach:

Identify Buyer Persona(s)

Every good product or service satisfies a need. Whether that need is commonplace or obscure shouldn’t matter all that much to businesses. What’s more important is identifying the people who will likely benefit from doing business with your company. That’s why forming a buyer persona (or personas) early on is key to hitting the ground running with a new venture. Once you’ve taken this step you can begin to make smart, informed marketing decisions to court customers. Traditionally, businesses have created buyer personas as a result of primary marketing research –– that is, surveys, interviews, or questionnaires done directly between company and consumer. (Note, primary marketing research doesn’t have to be done in person –– we live in a digital age after all.) The key at this stage of the process is listening. Give your potential customers the floor and really get to know them and their needs. Ask open-ended questions and cast as wide a net as possible. The more data you can bring in, the more educated your future decisions will be as a result.

Analyze the Competition

Who are your competitors? It seems like a simple question, but in reality, many business owners don’t know who their direct rivals are. Modern markets aren’t necessarily defined by geographic limitations (though some still are, to be fair). That means a company based in Seattle could be competing with another based in Miami. In order to figure out who your competitors are, it’s best to use a mix of primary resource intel gleaned from interviews along with secondary resource material (i.e. published works and public records). Look for competitor content across the internet and determine which companies are seeking to fill the same niche as you. There’s nothing wrong with learning from how your competitors run their Pay-per-click accounts, blogs, and websites.

Always Look to Engage

From day one, every business owner should strive to reach out to and engage with potential customers –– even during the marketing research process. What often separates the most successful companies from the chasing pack is the ability to forge meaningful relationships. Modern consumers are sophisticated and will get turned off when a company doesn’t listen to their feedback or fails to satisfy their needs. (Remember: the power of the human voice is unparalleled in business. People hate dealing with automation –– they like interacting with a real person.) As such, one of the keys to good market research is engaging with your new industry. Employees at rival companies, potential consumers, and even people outside your buyer persona can all provide you with important information. The lesson here is, don’t overlook anyone in your research process.

The Bottom Line

Even if you’ve been in business for thirty-plus years, market research never really “ends.” That’s because companies, consumers, and markets are always evolving. The good news is, when you partner with a marketing firm like Agile & Co., we’ll get to know your company from top-to-bottom, and conduct our own market studies regarding your SEO, PPC, and social media opportunities. Contact us today and let us show you how we can help you dominate your market. Not sure if your business needs a marketing boost? Then check out our free eBook and discover the ways we use inbound marketing to improve your marketing ROI!

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