Research your market

It pays to understand the world your business would like to reach — and doesn’t have to cost a lot to do so.

A clockWhen should a business conduct research? Two excellent situations are when you’re considering launching a new product or service, or when you need to find new customers for an existing product or service.

A laptop showing a magnifying lens on its screen.Where do you find published research? Ask at your local public library. Look on the Web. Visit Web sites for trade associations and government agencies related to your industry.

A woman with a question mark over her head.How can you conduct research on your own? Create a questionnaire for customers, prospects, vendors, and suppliers. Ask: do you like our product or service? What are we doing right? What can we do better?

Go to industry meetings and trade shows. Ask questions. Listen. Find out what your competitors are doing. Get a sense of what’s happening in your industry, and what’s helping others to succeed.

A bundle of 20 dollar billsHow can you make hiring a market research firm more affordable? Find non-competing businesses that are in a business related to yours and propose sharing the expense of a research study.

Note: Learn about your customers, competitors, and market by observing, listening, and asking questions. If you use an outside research firm, customers may be more willing to give honest feedback.

Click the Next button to discover some low-cost but effective marketing tactics.