Market research allows you to tailor your products and services to be exactly what people want and will buy. Without it, you are only guessing at your customers’ desires, and landing on a sellable product is mere luck. The Internet is the perfect place to do market research, providing plenty of information about your customers, which you can then implement into your business plan.

Any business that starts selling without doing at least the basics in market research is not likely to succeed. Why doom your business from the start when online market research is simple enough to do in a weekend?

Defining your target market takes more than a few good guesses. You need to know exactly who these people are, what they want and how much money they have to spend. The more you learn about your target audience, the more successful your business will be. Using the Internet to gather information is a very effective method of market research and one that has become the norm these days, all but eliminating the need for street side surveys and door-to-door questioning.

Market Research Companies

For the fastest data, you will want to look to a professional market research company. These are run by professionals who already have quite a bit of data on hand for top industries, but can also provide surveys and studies to dig further into your target market if need be.

There are a few things to keep in mind when looking for a research company:

  • Cost
  • Reputation
  • Specialties
  • Customer Service
  • Location (for local businesses)

You can find market research firms online, of course.They range from tiny companies with just a couple of employees, to huge multi-national corporations. This can affect cost, of course, so you’ll want to get a quote for the type of information you need. The more in-depth the information you need, the more you will pay. The company will be also able to give you an interpretation of the data, which can be immensely helpful.

A good company that offers quality customer service and has a good reputation should give you your money’s worth. Check for reviews and testimonials before hiring any business. They will be able to give you an interpretation of the data, which can be immensely helpful.

DIY Market Research

Not everyone wants to outsource their market research. If you prefer to conduct your own surveys and investigations, there are a number of online tools that make this relatively simple to do. You just need to know where to look.

Market research lets you know just what type of demand there is for your product or service and how to tweak your business to best serve your target audience. To get that information, you can use one of a few tools that the Internet has to offer.

First, you’ll need a survey. These are relatively easy to build with the following tools.

Wufoo: This service lets you build forms quickly and easily. When someone fills out the form, the service collects all the information that is entered so you can take a look at it later. You’ll see at a glance if there are any trends in your target market.

Mechanical Turk: Amazon’s Mechanical Turk can be useful for surveys or for gathering information. You can set up a task and pay a minimal amount to have it done . . . whether you need people to find and input information on your target market, examine the competition, etc.

Google Forms: With Google Forms, it’s fairly simple to set up a survey that will tally up the information gathered. You can see at a glance which answers people chose and even leave a section for them to input their own opinions, which can be helpful when determine how well your product is doing.

Once you have your survey completed, you will need people to take it. Let the world know about your survey on:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Your website or blog
  • Via your email contact list

The more people that participate, the more data you will have on hand. Then you will need to analyze it. Look at the overall trends . . . graphing the main factors can be helpful in distinguishing these trends. Since you are doing everything yourself, you will have to do the data analysis yourself and decide which areas are most important to consider.

Now that you understand your target audience a little better, you will be able to develop products that fill a hole in the market, improve existing products and adjust pricing to reflect what customers want to pay. Rather than just guess at why you aren’t selling, find out for sure. Or, if you are still in the startup stages of your business, be sure to get all the information on what your potential customers want before you launch. While it’s still not guaranteed success, you will be set for success if you listen to the target market.