Market research is all about gathering information about your customers, competitors and the overall marketplace. Businesses can benefit from understanding the key factors that influence their customers buying decisions, and the edge that their competitors have over them in specific purchasing circumstances. It is estimated that only one fourth of all businesses carry out any kind of market research plan, and for the small businesses that do not it contributes to an eventual loss of market share. Granted, testing a market is tough work. It is going to take some courage to go meet complete strangers and ask them for their opinions. However, there can be an easier way to do so – market research via the internet.
The best way to run a business is to ensure you and your team understands all that you can about your industry. Until you do the groundwork, what you are resting on is your instinctive confidence about your product or service, which may or may not be right. Only a first-hand and thorough market research plan will reveal whether your instincts are in the right direction or not. In fact, most entrepreneurs seem to overlook this very basic but fundamental requirement and place unflinching confidence in their idea. While confidence is good, there are tools available that can allow you to be 100% sure, down to the exact metrics.
Traditional Marketing Research is Expensive, Create Your Market Research Plan Online
The traditional methodology around conducting research includes some very time and resource expensive tactics. You can find many examples of entrepreneurs standing outside stores and malls speaking to customers, or perhaps offering them samples of their products to get their reaction. Many invest in developing some prototypes and send out samples with promotional brochures to trade magazines, potential suppliers and customers and requesting for feedback. While this type of direct feedback is good, it is often clouded by people being “polite” or “nice” in the responses. You can bring your market research plan to more exact metrics by directly testing what those same individuals are actually looking up and/or making purchasing decisions. There is a wealth of data online that is available to report out industry trends and direct purchasing metrics – if you know where to look.
How to Use Google Trends to Assist Your Market Research Plan
One of our favorite places to look for market research data is Google Trends. There you can find more about what the world thinks about a particular topic and measure the interest in a product or category. It shows how frequently the topic has appeared in the news, and provides geographical trending. Google Trends also allows you to enter multiple market research terms to compare how they rank in these metrics. Google Trends shows what they call a Search Volume Index graph instead of providing raw numbers. This graph compares the number of searches for your terms to the total number of searches done on Google over time. The information that Google Trends provides is timely and accurate for general business use, although the developers fairly admit to some statistical error that will make it inadequate for Ivory Tower dissertations. We can forgive Google for that, because most of us are working towards our next profit and are not using the data to earn our Ph.D. in Economics. Even better, the information is updated daily so you can be confident that your results are true. Using Google Trends you can move forward with business decisions knowing that you have done your due diligence on your market and industry.
Businesses can also find secondary market research information in the directories, publications, and databases that are available for public use. Often these resources are also free or available at reference libraries. Associations are great because they sponsor market research and provide it free of cost to their membership and/or the public. Publications also provide data specific to their topic of specialization. Data directories can have raw information for analysis, and often have reports about their information available. We have provided the resources below to our particularly savvy readers who are interested in diving further into their market research plan.
- Yahoo Directory Listing – Yahoo provides a great listing of Trade Associations, and includes links to their websites where available.
- The Encyclopedia of Associations – This is published by the Gale Group and is one of the most established directories of associations available.
- Ulrich’s Periodical Directory – This directory is the most definitive listing of all publications globally.
Create your market research plan today to and gain your competitive edge.