Market Research has been highly respected, but has been typically out of reach for small businesses. Our team has been hard at work to make market research meaningful and affordable for small businesses - and we've seen just how impactful it can be.
Here are 5 different reasons that your business might be in need of a live market research study - whether you match just 1 or all 5, it may be worth consideration if you haven't yet learned more about your potential customers.
#1 - Your Business is Just Beginning
We've seen clients end up on our doorstep because they've built $10k+ websites and they just aren't getting the traction they needed for their new business. They'll then invest thousands into ads using a large agency to run them and get zero sales.
By the time they get to us, they've been burned and they're upset that their new business isn't moving as quickly as they'd hoped. And for small businesses, it's even more disheartening.
What most new businesses don't do that they should, if they're new, is ask the very clients that they want to sell to how to sell to them. You might think it's not that easy - but it really is. The way that we've built our unique live Market Research studies is to approach potential buyers and ask them a series of insightful questions that help guide us to build the brand.
If you have a new small business, asking potential clients the following questions (and more) will ensure that you build your website, your brand voice, and sometimes even the service itself exactly to what the customer wants: What do you hate most about buying from companies in this industry? What do you wish you saw on websites in this industry? What do you value most about companies that you buy from in this industry? What attracted you to the last company you purchased from in this industry?
When you get the answers to those questions and more, you'd better bet the website and brand that you build will use every bit of that information to tailor it exactly to what your potential buyer wants - and you'll sell more in the process.
#2 - You're Guessing Your Personas
I did a pro-bono market research study for a tech company lately because I just knew that their assumptions were incorrect and I knew that they were wasting money on ads and targeting social all wrong. But, I wanted to prove it - and I did.
One area that many businesses get stuck in when it comes to marketing is building out their personas and their target markets without actually asking themselves if that's truly the persona that's interested in their products to begin with.
For example, this company assumed that one of their main personas knew the difference between data scientists and a full stack web developer. So, their ads to teachers said something like, "From Teacher to Full Stack Web Developer" and asked them to click on the ad that took them to a landing page where it jumps straight into the curriculum. Slaps face on desk.
In my live market research interviews, I asked the teachers in the group if they knew the difference - I thought to myself, if they don't know the difference to begin with, how would they even convert on the ad if they didn't know what it was that this ad was telling them to go school for in the first place?
What I found was not only that they didn't know the difference, but that they also felt that they weren't represented and "see themselves" on the website. The interviewees were black females and there wasn't a single black female on that website - only what they felt were standard "nerdy" looking individuals. Thus, even if they did finally understand the difference between a data scientist and a full stack developer, they wouldn't have even felt that was the right place for them. Would they have been interested? Yes. Did this company's personas match the group correctly? Not one bit.
There are definitely cases where a team can guess your personas pretty accurately and get an idea of what your target market looks like - but wouldn't you want to know for sure now rather than find out year later that you've left revenue on the table?
#3 - You're Not Getting Sales
This can be due to a number of issues across your entire set of marketing assets (website, ads, e-mail campaigns, etc.) - but there can also be an underlying reason that you're not making the amount of sales that you'd like to.
Another client of mine had a firm idea of what their service was supposed to be and who they wanted to target (they also suffered from #2 above). I created a PowerPoint presentation that served as an explanatory "pitch" of what the service was and interviewed about 10 individuals and ran through it with them, slide by slide.
What I found was that the interviewees were confused about the offering and taken off-guard by the words that were used. They didn't like the way it was framed and they really didn't understand what the service was. I had a feeling this would be the case and it was an eye-opening study for my client who was floored by the amount of insights we gained from that first set of interviews.
After the first and second sets of live market research interviews, the third set with all of the updates that we worked on resulted in the best 7 words: "This really hits the mark for me!"
We wemt from "I don't undersatnd what this is" to "My team could really use this, where do I sign up?" in a series of just a few weeks and now we've been using these same live interviews to update their service and continually make it better to be sure it's a good fit for their clients now and in the future.
#4 - Your Market Has Shifted
My best example here is our very own company, The Social Robin. After COVID, we lost a ton of clients and it was devastating. I'm not the type of person to give up and I knew that the old marketing model just would not work anymore - no one was going to be able to do big projects the way they used to.
The market shifted for marketing services and I interviewed several individuals who had previously outsourced marketing to ask them relevant questions (like you saw in #1 above) and also a few questions around pricing and working with external marketing teams.
That research study completely changed my approach to projects and informed the decisions that I would make throughout COVID to help restructure our business so that we could help small businesses with marketing in ways that they actually enjoyed instead of dreaded.
We've changed the way we communicate with clients (making our team readily accessible), changed our billing model (no contracts), and made our entire process as transparent as possible. The result? Happier clients and a much easier process for our team to work on the new projects that come rolling in.
#5 - You Need a Marketing Guide
The questions that are asked in a live Market Research interview study like the ones that I do for our clients are custom-tailored for each study.
That means that if you are completely lost when you're starting your business or even if it's been around for a little while, you can use Market Research as a tool to guide you through your marketing process to help develop all of the assets that you'll need to be successful.
The studies with interviewees can go for up to an hour - where I can go as detailed as showing a client's website or even their brochures live during the call to get real and valuable insights about what potential buyers see needs to be changed or what they love about what they see.
The entire purpose of the study when used as a guide is to take the interviewees through a series of questions and reviewing a client's assets to get a firm understanding of where to take the brand and what to build for it. It's one of the best ways to get a clear path forward without having to guess what your customers really want - just let them tell you themselves.
Live Market Research Studies are highly valuable and although it's out of the price range for many, our team has been able to get these studies to a price that's much more affordable for small businesses.
If you really want to start your business off on the right foot and you have some budget to do so, a live Market Research Study is your best bet.
You don't need to do it, but you can save thousands of dollars by building the right things first rather than having to fix it after shelling out thousands on marketing efforts that don't work.