Conducting market research is essential to create the most effective business and marketing plan. But, where do you start?
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The only way you can truly get to know your customers is to spend some time talking to them and getting their feedback, whether this is via a survey, face to face, over email, on social media, or a telephone call.
You need to find out what they want. What frustrates them. What worries them.
Why do they use/transact with you? What do they want from and/or enjoy about your product or service?
By understanding your customers, your marketing communications will work harder, and ultimately your products and services will more closely match your customers’ needs. The result should be increased success rates. What’s more, understanding your ‘perfect’ customer, the one you really want to find more of, will provide you with a blueprint to do precisely that through your marketing activities.
You are not operating in a vacuum. It is important to understand what is happening in your business environment; is there a gap in the market? Is there anything you can learn from your competitors? Can you identify what is unique about what you offer? Is there something you can do that no one else does? Is there an angle you can take that would make you stand out from the crowd?
Look at the current trends in the economy and how they may impact your business. The same for political / legal issues and social trends – is there anything working for or against you? It’s also good to look at your industry as a whole and establish what developments you need to be aware of, and if there are any you can take advantage of (or need to mitigate against).
There’s a lot to consider for this section, but if you can be as comprehensive as possible, you will soon start to see the opportunities that lie ahead and, just as importantly, what you need to be cautious of.
Once you’ve conducted your external analysis, it’s time to look internally at what strengths and weaknesses are inside your business.
What are your most profitable products or services? Are you reliant on suppliers? Is your customer portfolio well balanced? What is your current financial situation? What about your business equipment? Is the software you use and the workflow systems you have in place adequate? How much more work can you realistically take on, and at what rate? What are the staffing implications of this?
There are many practical things to consider in your research, but there are also some intangible but vital things to overview, such as your company’s culture, ethics, and business values. Are these reflected in your marketing communications?
Who are your main competitors? Pick out between three and five and do your research – look at their website and social media to see what they offer, how they offer it, how they interact with their customers, how easy it is to find them on Google, and so on. Have a look at Company’s House too to see how financially secure they are – this may give you a good indication of their potential growth plans or, indeed, if they may be in any difficulty
Maybe even try some mystery shopping.
Researching your competitors will help you to understand your position within the marketplace and also, perhaps, allow you to see what not to do. That’s not to say other companies make constant marketing or content mistakes (you’d be lucky if they did), but it will show you how to be different.
Now create your marketing strategy
Once you have conducted your research, evaluated it and highlighted what opportunities you have, what realistic goals you can set, what threats may impact you, etc., it is time to feed all of that information into creating your marketing strategy.
If you need help with this, then you’re in safe hands with Fill the Gap Marketing – we love to strategise. We are big believers in undertaking marketing thinking before getting any of the tactical marketing activity underway, AND we do love creating a measurable, tactical plan.
Why not take advantage of our Complimentary Marketing Consultation to discuss your research and how we can help make that into a marketing plan that will help you to grow?
Let’s grow together.