Basically, marketing is reaching out to your customers. Without customers, you have no business. Market research is what you need to make intelligent business decisions. If you’re just thinking about a business, market research can be the most important thing you do for yourself and the success of your business. And then there are the entrepreneurs already in business that are eager to rush out and spend thousands of dollars on advertising without really knowing what their typical customer profile may be. But what is the BEST way to reach these people? Should they advertise in the newspaper, or on the radio, or both, or neither? What you really need is a strategy that will help you connect to your customers. But just who are your customers?
You probably have a good idea of who your main customers might be, but you may not know how many of those kinds of people are out there, which is your market size. That is where market research comes in. Is your market large enough to start a business?
To find out how many potential customers we have, we can start with demographics. We can get numbers for age groups, income, males and females. Will they be younger folks, married with kids, moms, or grandparents?
In addition to demographics, we can take a different angle and talk about psychographics. Psychographics is digging deeper into the personal lifestyles of customers. What kind of newspapers or magazines do they read? What kind of radio stations or TV do they listen to? What movies do they watch? What kinds of entertainment do they enjoy? Where do they go on vacation? As you begin to gather this information, you can get a picture of what your main customers look like. Then you can think about how to market to them.
Determine customer needs before trying to connect to them through expensive marketing strategies like radio or print ads. Start with surveys or the tried and true method of asking them. Once customer needs are identified, the business owner should focus on differentiating his/her product from similar products. Products and services must be able to give customers an obvious benefit. In other words, “what’s in it for me?”
Businesses should appeal to customers. A business should be unique, not only in the products and services provided, but also in the way the marketing strategy is approached. This may require changing the way the owner thinks about the business. Ask this question, “How can products be made so unique people will want to buy them?” The answer will come through market research and planning.