As Socialbrite.org suggests, data is transforming conversations. “These days everyone is releasing it, visualizing it, aggregating it, and mashing it up. And for good reason. Data is so much more than a stack of numbers or a server filled with client outputs. It can justify the work that your organization is doing, help others understand why it is critical, and offer exciting new ways to motivate others to help solve the problems your organization is working on.”
Here are 10 practical steps to help you plan, conduct and utilize market research data in your business:
1. Determine Your Purpose
What do you hope to gain from your research? Do you want to improve an existing product or service? Are you preparing for a new product launch? Start with your main objective and then predict what you think the data will reveal. This helps you determine next steps to take, and provides a comparison of how you view your offering and how other perceive it in the marketplace.
2. Establish the Type of Market Research You Want to Use
There are two main types of market research. Primary research is taken directly from the source, such as current or potential customers. Primary research, when done right, can be very reliable.
Secondary research is data collected from existing research conducted by others. People usually gather secondary research data from government agencies, trade associations, local chambers of commerce, and other credible sources.
3. Confirm Your Target Audience
Make sure you have a target market in mind. Your target market is the group of people that are most likely to buy your product or service. For example, if you want to develop an eco-friendly baby sling, your target market would consist of mothers of young children, and you would probably want to choose a research method that doesn’t require a lot of time due to their busy schedules, such as a short online survey.
4. Conduct Primary Market Research
There are several different ways that you can conduct your own research. Online or mail surveys, face-to-face or telephone interviews and questionnaires are all effective ways to collect data from your target audience. You can use tools like Qualaroo, SurveyMonkey, and QuestionPro.
Questions may include factors customers consider when purchasing your product or service, appropriate prices, likes or dislikes about current products or services on the market, and areas of improvement. If you do not have the time to conduct it yourself, you can outsource your study to a market research firm.
5. Conduct Secondary Market Research
The bulk of your market research will usually come from secondary research. U.S. Census data, trade associations, professional journals, and community organizations offer data that may be relevant to your study such as: market trends, regional trends and information on your competitors.
Secondary research is easier to conduct because the data you’re collecting has already been analyzed and published. However, all of your data should not come from secondary research. A balanced mix of both secondary and primary research will ensure the credibility of your findings.
6. Determine the Reliability and Validity of Your Data
After you gather your data, weed out data that isn’t reliable. High quality data will be valid (i.e. you can trust the integrity of your data), reliable (i.e. the claims you assert about the accuracy of your data is correct) and be subject to triangulation — cross-examined through the lens of multiple independent sources of data to establish the truth and accuracy of your claim.