Fiscally responsible marketing: Best practices for market research

Professional market research is very expensive. Corporations may have budgets in the six figures to spend on market research, but that’s not an option for you. However, you do have access to alternative tools that will help you research your market and hone your idea. If you use market research from the outset of your journey and keep using it as you refine your idea and develop your business plan, you will have a better sense of who will buy your product and what features they’re looking for.

There are many ways to approach doing your own market research and a variety of online services that can help you gather the data for relatively small fees. However, it is important to do some preliminary work before you start spending money or grappling with cumbersome datasets. Here are some best practices to ensure that the route you take will bring you success.

Be clear on your business objectives for research.
Fully understand what decisions or changes you want to be able to make to your business as a result of the research at the project briefing stage, this will help ensure the insights delivered are relevant and actionable.

Discuss your budget.
Research methodologies have varying associated costs. Clearly defining your budget from the outset will ensure your researchers can make your money work as hard as possible. Online research can often be more cost effective and faster.

Select your target market, audience and profile. 
Be very clear about audiences or segments you want to carry out research with – and for what purpose. This will help researchers identify the correct sample mix, size and methodology.

Be mindful of survey length. 
Think about how many questions you would be happy to answer in a survey yourself. Long questionnaires can lead to increased drop-out rates and poor data quality.

Beware of nationality barriers.
Mixing people with different nationalities in qualitative focus groups may not be advisable since they all have their own native languages, attitudes, lifestyles and perceptions.

Be respectful of cultural norms. 
For example: It may not be appropriate to mix male and female respondents in some areas of the Mid-East region like Saudi Arabia. There may be some topics that are off limits.  It is important to ensure respondents feel comfortable at all times.

Build in time to your research project. 
Carrying out quality research takes time. In some cases recruiting respondents needs to be done weeks in advance to ensure people have enough notice to take part at the right time. In other cases, recruitment can only be done several days in advance.

Dictate your desired deliverables.
A significant amount of a research timeline is allocated to analyzing and reporting. It is therefore important to agree the format (PowerPoint, Word, Excel) and level of detail you expect your research to be delivered in from the outset of the project