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Market Research: What Do Your Customers Want?

market research graphA few months ago, I developed a market research survey and shared it with a few organizations to see if I thought of an idea that would fill a market need. I had this grand idea to expand my business offerings in a way that would combine the talents of me and one of my neighbors, an event planner. I did not get many responses to that survey but the answers I received confirmed the need in a way that was greater than I expected. People would be willing to pay more for the service than I initially assumed and would put more time into it as well.

This type of market research simply justifies any ideas you may want to take to market. It is good to do to see if there are people in your target demographic who will pay for it, how much they will pay for it, and what they will expect out of it.

Although I decided to take on other pursuits, I want to share some lessons from this and previous experiences in market research:

  • Take some time and make a plan for the research process. Decide what the goal is for the research including how the information will be used to benefit the mission of your company and each type of its stakeholders (i.e. shareholders/owners, customers, partners, employees).
  • Choose multiple survey methods to capture some good randomness in the audience. This includes using surveys online AND in-person.
  • Use in-person methods like interviews and focus groups to dig deeper in your findings from the surveys your initial group answered. It could be as simple as catching up with a colleague (that fits the target demographic) and throwing the business concept into the conversation to see what he or she thinks. Or, it could be in the format of a webinar and conference call with interactive polling..
  • Include a large pool of people in your surveying to ensure a statistically valid result. Average response rate seems to be 10 – 30%. The blog marketing [m.o.] has a good, brief post on sampling size. has a good summary on how to conduct market research with several links for resources.

Share innovative ideas for conducting market research and what it did for your company in the comments below.

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