Asides from funding, startups fail because there is no reliable market for the product or service they offer. This can easily be solved by proper market research. Having a good idea for a business is one thing, but proper market research is what will let you know how the general public sees your idea. Market research lets you know the kind of demand there is for your idea, the size of the market, who will buy your product and how you stand as regards the competition. Several entrepreneurs skip market research for different reasons. Some don’t want to get any review that is not a glowing recommendation. These business owners are convinced that the product or service they have developed is perfect the way it is. Others skip research because they are afraid of the cost. This is not exclusive to startups, because even some growth companies cut research first after developing a new idea. The good news is that gauging customer sentiment doesn’t need to be expensive. There’s a lot of market research you can do on a budget and without any kind of professional training. Here are some low-budget ways to do some market research on your next project and give your product, idea, or designs much better chance of being successful.
- Use social media: Crowdsourcing with social media platforms is one of the easiest ways to do market research. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin are the the normal culprits upon which you can easily find groups and trends relating to your niche and pick the brains of their members. While the results won’t be the most concise ones you get, with the right audience, you can get some important answers. You can start conversations and ask for volunteer contributions to help with your new product or service or website – whatever it is. Have a minimum requirement that contributors will need before they can join. Offer small rewards in appreciation of their input.
- Attend industry events: Trade shows, exhibitions, conferences and business events provide you with multiple opportunities to talk with your target audience. Do some research before the event and find out who will be attending and try to get some facetime with people whose input you think will be of help. Who knows, you could get some customers even before your product launch.
- Rediscover what’s already known: The internet can be used by entrepreneurs to conduct market research wherever they are, without leaving their offices or homes. You can learn so much by looking for studies concerning your product and industry that have already been conducted. This method will save you from wasting resources to find out what has already been discovered and ask questions that have already been asked. Start with the major consumer online services, which offer access to business databases. You can find everything from headline and business news to industry trends and company-specific business information, such as a firm’s address, telephone number, field of business and the name of the CEO. This information is critical for identifying prospects, developing mailing lists and planning sales calls. Knowthis.com and marketresearch.com are just a couple of sites with free resources you can take advantage of.
- Interview prospects: Face to face conversations are a valuable means of conducting market research and what’s more? – they’re free! Though the sample space might be small, it will give you a general idea of the direction in which to take your product.
- Visit Universities: Your local colleges and universities are fertile ground for information regarding your product. Business students, eager to get some real-world experience under their belts are always willing to do some research and information gathering for a small fee. You can also source talent from your local schools. Most students and professors do a little consulting as a side hustle and you can get marketing, sales, planning and financial information from them for a far lower price than you would otherwise get.