Everything You Need to Know About Market Research: Step by Step Guide

Market Research - Jimmy Newson Consulting

Written by: Jimmy Newson

Jimmy Newson is the founder and CEO of Moving Forward Small Business, a membership-based digital publishing company on a mission to save a million small businesses from failure by 2050. He presents workshops and training regularly with Start Small Think Big, NY Public Library, SCORE, Digital Marketing World Forum, DC Start-Up Week, and international SaaS companies.


July 22, 2020

You have a great idea for a product. You’ve been fine-tuning it for months, and it’s time for launch. But, wait, you’re missing one of the most important steps.

You shouldn’t launch any product before you conduct market research. Without knowing anything about the marketing you’re about to jump into is dangerous. Your product is likely to fail if you don’t conduct the research necessary to be successful within your chosen market.

To learn more about what market research is, why market research is important, and how to conduct market research, keep reading. We have everything you want to know and more.

What Is Market Research?

Market research is also known as marketing research. These terms refer to the method that many business owners use to gather information about their company’s target market.

By learning about their target market, these business owners can learn more about what their target market’s wants and needs are. From this, they can improve their products, make changes to their marketing, and build a better user experience. 

It’s best for business professionals to conduct market research before spending a large number of resources on launching products or advertising services. However, continuing to investigate the market while your product is out there is great for keeping up with what’s expected of you. It’s never a bad idea to look into market conditions.

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Why Is Market Research Important?

Market research allows the researcher to truly get to know his or her target audience as well as his or her target customers. As a business professional, you may have a vague idea of who your audience is and what they want. However, you have to know more than surface-level details to take full advantage of the market and your audience.

As your product grows (or doesn’t), you’ll learn more and more about the market that you’re trying to enter. With this knowledge, you can edit the existing product or try to re-launch with another product.

There are many reasons why taking small details about your market into account is so important. 

Customers Want You to Care

One of the biggest elements of conducting market research is making sure that you’re understanding what your customers want and need. You come to know what they want and expect by conducting research so that you can better gear your products and advertising towards them.

If you don’t care about your customers and their experience with your company, your product is not likely to do well at all. You have to make your customers a top priority.

Overall, customers are more receptive to companies that take better care of them and recognize what they want. Conducting market research is the key to keeping those customers happy. In turn, it keeps your business busy and well-respected.

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Analytics Aren’t Enough

You may think that you’re dominating the market by looking at your analytics. However, this isn’t true.

There’s a popular illusion that looking at analytics is enough to make a business great. Instead, you should recognize that analytics help you understand how people are responding to your products, while market research explains why they’re responding this way.

Market research requires a deep dive into why your customers respond and behave the way that they do. If you can come to predict these behaviors, you’ll be better off than any other business out there.

Look at more than just your analytics. You want to know why you’re getting more views on one page than another. Use market research.

Assumptions Don’t Work

Many businessmen and businesswomen try to assume things about their target audience and market. They will use trends and rules to try to make sense of positive and negative findings when working with that market.

Instead, they should be focusing on proven research.

Trends and assumptions aren’t always true. They don’t work if you want lasting results and a deep understanding of your market. Don’t rely on them.

By focusing on the customers and how they’re acting at this moment, you’re going to be more successful. Don’t follow the practices that you’ve always put into play, because they won’t work forever.

Don’t Rely Solely on Your Team

Business professionals should rely on their team to get a product created, promoted, launched, and maintained. However, that professional should never become comfortable solely rely on their team.

No matter how good you and your team are, nothing beats having a customer’s opinion. You may be shocked to see what customers think of your product or how they’re using it. You nor your team can mimic the customer experience.

Market research can give your team insight into what customers are thinking and how they would approach the product. Without it, you’re left to assume that the customer would respond in the way that some of your team members would. This response is highly unlikely.

What Is Lean Market Research?

If you’re interested in conducting market research, lean market research may become your best tool. Lean market research is a quicker, easier way to conduct market research. 

Lean market research is also great for those business professionals who want to focus on a method that will give their business continuous points of improvement based on the research that they conduct.

Lean market research is efficient. Because lean market research is faster, you’re being more efficient. You’ll come to understand your target audience faster.

Lean market research is cost-effective. Anyone can conduct lean market research without having to spend thousands of dollars on professional marketing services.

Lean market research makes your business competitive. If you conduct market research regularly, you will be ahead of your competition. As long as you keep the focus on your customers and what they want, your business is bound to perform better.

What Are Examples of Market Research Methods?

There are many different kinds of market research methods that you can choose to conduct. Depending on what resources you have available to you, you may decide that certain methods are better than others.

If you want a great vision of what your target market and target audience are looking for, you should try to combine several different methods of market research.

Keep reading to get some inspiration for your market research methods. There are a variety of market research techniques that you can try.

Conduct a Survey

Surveys are the most popular way of collecting data about a business’ target market. You can decide to make a survey with open-ended or closed-ended questions.

Many businesses routinely send out surveys about what their audience’s experience has been with their company so far and what they’re wanting to see in the future.

When you’re conducting your business’ surveys, you should ask targeted questions that will give you the answers you want and need. Asking about prices won’t tell you anything about quality.

Surveys are relatively inexpensive to conduct. They’re also easy for your customers to complete, so they are more likely to do them.

Collecting data from surveys is also easy, even if the answers are open-ended.

Overall, surveys are well-liked and often-used. If you’re just starting out with market research, you may want to begin with surveys.

Schedule an Interview

Interviews are great tools for getting details about what customers want. Usually, these interviews are one-on-one with different customers that are willing to give more detail than something like a survey could provide.

These interviews can be conducted in-person or over video chat. Either way, it’s easier to ask questions of customers when they’re talking with you rather than having them answer pre-saved questions.

Talking individually with the customer can also help you and your team empathize with that customer and others like him or her. Seeing and speaking to someone who is in your target audience can help make pleasing that audience a more important goal. Getting to know your audience is a great idea if you’re looking for some motivation.

Gather a Focus Group

If you’re just starting out with market research, you may want to skip this section. You do not want to start out your research by gathering a focus group.

Focus groups tend to be expensive and can cause errors in your research easily. However, they are a great way to understand how some members of your audience influence other members of your audience.

You should keep in mind that a loud and/or forceful member could cause some people in the focus group to hold opinions that they would not otherwise have. The moderator could also swing participants in one direction as well. This depends on how they form their questions.

The biggest advantage of focus groups is that they will allow you to see multiple opinions and thought processes at the same time. It can also give you insight into how what others are saying can influence some people in your audience.

Set Up an Observation

During observations, you or a team member take notes while a consumer is interacting with and using one of your business’ products. You may be able to see if that consumer runs into any issues or finds a new use for the product.

Observations don’t allow you to understand the customer’s thought process, but they do allow you to see how the customer interacts with your product without outside influence.

This method of market research is less expensive than focus groups, so it is possible for smaller businesses to do. It’s a great way of seeing what customers are doing in a natural setting.

The Complete Competitive Research For Your Business Workshop - Jimmy Newson Consulting

Sign up to this webinar and see how easy it is to do competitive research today.

How Can I Conduct Market Research?

If you’re looking for an in-depth view on how to conduct market research, stay tuned. We’ll give you the three steps you should keep in mind when you’re conducting market research.

These three steps are the best way to get to know your target audience. 

As you’re researching your target market, you should think about who they are. Understanding what your audience wants and expects from your company is also important.

1. Build Your Customer Persona

A customer persona is a hypothetical character that represents the bulk of your target audience. Your team can build a customer persona by looking at their typical audience.

Look at how old your audience is and what gender they identify with. Start analyzing what their day-to-day life may be like. Get as specific as you can.

If you’re just starting out, you can start by looking at your competitor’s audience.

2. Note Your Observations

An observational study will help you see how your audience may use your product.

As you’re coming to learn how your audience is using your product, you should take notes. These observations will make a difference in how you promote and present future products. The more you can deduce, the better you’ll become at releases and launches.

You can conduct formal interviews or make observations from online discussions. Just make sure that you’re gathering general information.

3. Analyze the Data

Analyzing the data that you collect is the most important part of market research. If you don’t analyze what you have observed, there is no point in conducting research in the first place.

As you’re analyzing the data, you should see if there are trends. These trends will be the key to choosing how you present and promote products in the future.

Take the necessary actions to make your audience happier than ever. Keep in mind that trends may change over time though. You should always be looking for the next update to your product presentation.

What Do I Do Next?

It’s time to take advantage of all that market research offers. Keep our tips and steps in mind whether you’re just starting out or are a pro. It’s important to have a solid foundation.

If you’re looking to build the best foundation for your business, become more knowledgable with my webinars. I have created all of these webinars with the sole intent of informing you and others like you on how to make their business the best it can be.

You should also check out my free resources. There are several different subjects to choose from.

The Complete Competitive Research For Your Business Workshop - Jimmy Newson Consulting

Sign up to this webinar and see how easy it is to do competitive research today.

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