We all remember doing research projects in school. They mostly entailed staring at your screen or notebook until you could muster up the motivation to start writing and organizing ideas. I’m sure a lot of us promised ourselves we wouldn’t put ourselves through that kind of ordeal again, but we weren’t banking on required work-related research.

It would be simple if market research wasn’t needed. But the truth is, a business cannot be successful if it doesn’t adequately reach and cater to its ideal customer. And in order to do this, you must take the time to get to know who those customers (or segments of customers) are. This information will help you develop products or services that will satisfy the needs of the people in your target market. In addition, thorough market research will help you identify new opportunities to further improve and grow your business.

Here are the five fundamental ways to systematically analyze all angles relating to your product, service, and business as a whole.

Market Analysis

The first stage involves determining which market you will be targeting. Take all the available information into consideration, including geographical data and demographic details. Pinpoint the typical behavior of your target market and attempt to understand what their values are. It’s also important to remain aware of any possible market variations that may occur, such as a change in the number of clients due to evolving population trends.

Part of your market analysis involves examining the various customer segments within it. Performing this analysis should be thorough, and you should do everything possible to really zero in on what the market looks like. This includes other solutions out there, how and why these solutions came to be, and the needs they help fill.

Competitor Analysis

We all know the saying, “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.” I’d like to believe that this mantra is what inspired a strong need for the competitor analysis phase or market research. Keeping a close watch on what your competitors are up to is essential for business success. It gives you a solid idea of what you’re up against, and what you need to do to rise above it.

Research what products or services other similar companies in your niche are offering, how long they’ve been in the market, and any other key details. Look at their content marketing strategies, and what keywords they’re ranking for online. This information will help you determine your unique value proposition so you can carve out your own position in the market.

Trends Analysis

Depending on your particular market, your current situation could change rapidly. To weather the storm, you must be prepared to adapt and evolve alongside these changes, whether it’s applying new technologies to your business, changing your marketing message, or shifting around new advancements.

Always keep your finger on the pulse of what’s trending by subscribing to credible newsletters and online publications. See what other influencers in the space are predicting in their trend reports. Also, maintain an active social media strategy so you can tap into any developments that are being shared immediately.

Customer Analysis

The more intimately you know your target audience, the better you’ll be able to serve their needs, satisfy their wants, and solve their pain points. Proper customer analysis can make all the difference in a company that thrives and one that fizzles out.

Ask your prospects for feedback, or find ways to survey your target market on what their needs and issues are before you begin marketing your products or services. More importantly, assess their willingness to pay for that product or service.

Take a look at your customer base and pinpoint your biggest fans. This group can help you determine what you’re doing right, and how to attract more loyal customers just like them. A quick NPS survey to your customer base can help you find out who your promoters and detractors are.

In this stage, it’s important to zero in on motivations, create thorough buyer personas, and examine job titles. You want to know who these individuals report to or who else is involved in their decision-making process. If you can identify any budget-related factors, that will be crucial as well.

SWOT Analysis

With the information about the scope of your market, competition, growth trends, and target customers in your back pocket, it’s time to focus on your SWOT analysis. This requires breaking down your company’s:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Assess the results of this analysis to determine which areas of your product, service, and business strategy are strong and which could use some TLC. Identify which features of your offering are of most interest to your ideal customers. And, finally, investigate any and all opportunities to further develop and improve your business.

Surveys can come in handy for this stage. You can survey your customers and ask them some of these questions, as well as your staff to see what they think about your product and which areas could use some improvements. After all, they’re the ones on the frontlines working with your customers.

By focusing your efforts on these five key stages of research, you’ll gain invaluable insight that will help you determine exactly who to target and how to achieve the best possible results. Take it one step at a time, and don’t take any shortcuts. Thorough research is what helps a company continue to provide value and have longevity.

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by Benchmark Team