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Free Book: How to Conduct a Low Cost Market Research

How to Conduct a Low Cost Market Research

A Step by Step Guide to Marketing Research Strategies

How to Conduct a Low Cost Market ResearchThis guide will walk you step by step through all the essential phases of conducting a low cost market research in your business

To be successful a business must know its market. Marketing research is simply an orderly, objective way of learning about people - the people who buy from you or might buy from you.

This Guide provides an overview of what market research is and how it's done. It introduces inexpensive techniques that you can apply to gather facts about your customers and the people you'd like to have for customers.


Table of Contents

1. What is Marketing Research?
2. Why Do It?
3. How Do You Go About It?
4. Defining the Problem
5. Assessing Available Information
6. Gathering Additional Information
7. Going Outside for Marketing Research Data
8. What You Can Do
9. Customer Survey
10. Do, Don't Overdo

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Sample Content

To be successful a business must know its market. Marketing research is simply an orderly, objective way of learning about people - the people who buy from you or might buy from you.
This Guide provides an overview of what market research is and how it's done. It introduces inexpensive techniques that business owner-managers can apply to gather facts about their customers and the people they'd like to have for customers.

Basically, the purpose of marketing research is to find out what catches customers' attention by observing their actions and drawing conclusions from what you see. To put it more formally, in the words of the American Marketing Association, marketing research is "the systematic gathering, recording, and analyzing of data about problems relating to the marketing of goods and services."
Marketing research is an organized way of finding objective answers to questions every business must answer to succeed. Every business owner-manager must ask:
Who are my customers and potential customers?
What kind of people are they?
Where do they live?
Can and will they buy?
Am I offering the kinds of goods or services they want - at the best place, at the best time, and in the right amounts?
Are my prices consistent with what buyers view as the products' values?
Are my promotional programs working?
What do customers think of my business?
How does my business compare with my competitors?
Marketing research is not a perfect science; it deals with people and their constantly changing likes and dislikes which can be affected by hundreds of influences, many of which simply can't be identified. Marketing research does, however, try to learn about markets scientifically. That simply, is to gather facts in an orderly, objective way; to find out how things are, not how you think they are or would like them to be; what people want to buy, not just what you want to sell them.


Why Do It?
It's tough - impossible - to sell people what they don't want. (Remember the Nehru jacket?) That's pretty obvious. Just as obvious is the fact that nothing could be simpler than selling people what they do want. Big business has to do market research to find that out. The same reason holds for small business.

business owners often have a "feel" for their customers - their markets - that comes from years of experience. Experience can be a two-edged sword, though, since it comprises a tremendous mass of facts acquired at random over a number of years. Information about markets gained from long experience may no longer be timely enough to base selling decisions on. In addition, some "facts" may be vague, misleading impressions or folk tales of the "everybody knows that..." variety.
Marketing research focuses and organized marketing information. It ensures that such information is timely. It provides what you need to:
Reduce business risks,
Spot problems and potential problems in your current market,
Identify and profit from sales opportunities,
Get basic facts about your market to help you make better decisions and set up plans of action.

How Do You Go About It?
You probably do some market research every day in the course of your routine management activities without being aware of it. You check returned items to see if there's some pattern. You ask one of your old customers, who has stopped coming to your shop, why he hasn't been in lately when you run into him on the street. You look at a competitor's ad to see what that store is charging for the same products you're selling.
Marketing research simply makes this process more orderly. It provides a framework that lets you objectively judge the meaning of the information you gather about your market. The following flow chart shows the steps in the marketing research process:
Define problem (limit and state clearly)
Assess available information
Assess additional information, if required:
review internal records and files
Interview employees
Consult secondary sources of information
Interview customers and suppliers
Collect (or have collected) primary data
Organize and interpret data
Make decision
Watch the results of the decision


Defining the Problem
This, the first step of the research process, is so obvious that it is often overlooked. Yet, it is the most important step of the process.
You must be able to see beyond the symptoms of a problem to get at the cause. Seeing the problem as a "sales decline" is not defining a cause; it's listing a symptom.
In defining your problem list every possible influence that may have caused it. Has there been a change in the areas your customers have traditionally come from? Have their tastes changed? Put all the possible caused down. Then set aside any that you don't think can be measured, since you won't be able to take any action on them.
You must establish an idea of the problem with causes that can be objectively measured and tested. Put your idea of the causes in writing. Look at it frequently while you're gathering your facts to keep on track, but don't let it get in the way of facts, either. (Incidentally, while this Guide speaks of "problems," the same techniques can be used to investigate potential opportunities too.)

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