Know thyself and know thy market.

Low cost, effective methods for market research.

By Joanne Mansell.

By now we are pretty used to the idea of knowing “thyself” – not only what your product is, but why people would want to buy it.  Stay tuned next month for an article on marketing using the product lifecycle.

  Let’s start with some basic theory the steps in marketing research.

 The Marketing Research Process (steps)  

 Market research is about finding out what your market wants.  The steps are:

Ø       DEFINING the problem and research objectives – what do you need to know?

Ø       DEVELOPING the research plan for collecting information

Ø       IMPLEMENTING the research plan – collecting and analyzing the data

Ø       INTERPRETING and reporting the findings.

 Once you know what your market wants you can then tailor the message.  Stuart has some great Guerilla tips on marketing. 

Sources of Market Research – what are primary and secondary data sources?

SECONDARY data already exists, having been collected for another purpose.  This is a good starting point for research and may help define problems, research objectives and further questions.  Furthermore, as a small business without much capital to spend on research, you may learn what you need from expensive research conducted by your competitors. If a car is pitched to your market – say 30 year olds with no kids, what are they targeting as an angle?  Is this a concept you can piggy-back on?

The most commonly thought of and best known readily available source of secondary data is the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which can be used to obtain information on demographics.  Remember the census we all did a few months ago?  The ABS CD is the collation of these results.  Many local libraries provide access to this information for free.

It is important to be aware that not all sources are useful or applicable.  Other sources can include the newspaper, radio and tv, Internet, yellow pages, trade associations and journals, archives, competitors advertising and list brokers.

Industry benchmarking is a helpful source of information on your competitors, collected by industry bodies.  You can then check your business against the norm, allowing for best fit and seasonal variation.

PRIMARY data is collected specifically for the purpose at hand.  Care must be taken to ensure it is accurate, current and unbiased.  Primary research is often done by market research companies and can be expensive to commission.

In summary, primary data is directly surveying potential customers to find out what products to sell/develop and how to price them.  It also provides the basis for a marketing strategy in terms of where and how to advertise to reach your target market, as well as how to market your products. Finally, primary data gives an insight into customer perceptions - especially of value – without an understanding of which it is difficult to correctly package and price any product.

 Low cost methods of market research (and marketing)  – finding out what your market is and wants…

 ·         Who is in your database – what demographics can you calculate from your current customers such as age or location (postcodes are a good clue for this)?

·         Formal demographics can be obtained from census information – check your local library for free access to the CD from the ABS.

·         What are your fast and slow selling products?  Does this give you clues on what to promote?

·         Could you create a loyalty group or club?  Preferably one where your patients, customers and clients don’t need yet another card!

·         What can you learn from the geography of your shop/office – is it near the beach, schools or on a main traffic route?  Is passing traffic in cars or pedestrian?  If you work from home, where do you advertise – can you leverage from these locations somehow?

·         Can you run information nights (to collect leads) or surveys in store to find out what people want, or what would entice them to buy?

·         Have a look at your local newspaper – if you ask about advertising they will provide you with demographics of their readership.

·         Observe your customers and their buying habits.  You can observe their reactions and buying habits in your competitors’ shops as well! 

·         Notice how competitors advertise to your target market, and the segments of the market they ignore – what they miss could form your niche market.

·         Notice how other products advertise to your target market. This marketing is often the result of expensive primary research – what themes are being used to appeal to your target market?

·         Observe current marketing for segments which are not being marketed to – this is looking for the “space” between markets and promotions.

·         Listen in to groups of your target market (at dinner parties, movies, trade shows).  What do they talk about? What do they want and what are their values?  How can you use this information?

·         What else does your target market buy that can fit with your products? Seek to develop synergies between your products and those of other businesses. A great example of this was a Rebel Sport shop offering a one-month gym membership at a local gym if you spend over $50.  This has qualified leads 3 ways – it targets sporting people or people interested in sport, it reaches people in the local area and reaches people more likely to have disposable income.

 With some common sense you can get great market research with little financial outlay.

  For more information on these concepts, or to book a business or life coaching session with the author, Joanne Mansell please phone 0416 181 654.  The first half hour consultation is complimentary.  For more articles (including business planning basics) see

 Joanne Mansell, Kaizen Coaching – “Mind, Body, Life Fitness”





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