Why a Well Designed Market Research Plan Will Help You Make Better Business Decisions
One of the hardest things about running a business is making decisions and although it can feel very onerous being the one that has to make difficult choices, when you get it right – the results for your business are quite often staggering. It’s almost impossible to get every single decision right in life (let alone in business) but there are ways of maximizing the ratio of good decisions to bad – and the single biggest factor that has been proven time and again to aid good decision making in business is market research.
Market research, (not to be confused with Marketing Research), is a critical component of any business strategy and is often something that ‘new businesses’ will undertake. All too often businesses will fail to recognize the significance that continued market research can play in their success.
Whether your businesses is undertaking a new product launch, doing a primary research study, planning an advertising campaign, looking at rebranding, evaluating its customer service, looking to assess the impact of its sales channels or any other of a number of business processes, the importance of effective market research must not be understated.
The problem that many businesses have with market research is that they see it as being difficult to administer, track and evaluate. Many businesses will also see it as an unnecessary expense. Before we explore a solution to all of these legitimate concerns felt by business owners, it is important to understand why these misconceptions exist and perhaps more importantly look at how to prevent them.
Market Research Mistakes and Misconceptions
- Making assumptions
- Relying solely on qualitative research
- Not asking the right questions
- Not taking on board the results
- Using free data from unreliable resources (Internet)
- Not surveying your (potential) customer base
The Benefits of Online Market Research
The chances are that as you are here you will already have a fair understanding of the benefits of market research for your business. As we have alluded to already, good market research can be the most powerful weapon in your business arsenal and it’s worth reminding ourselves of why online market research is so powerful:
- Honest replies
- Reach a wider but more specific community
Methods of collecting information for your own business
As part of your market research plan you will need to gain a better understanding of your own business – from your customers perspective and also from your employees perspective.
So far we have mainly focused on the external methods of collecting information such as focus groups, surveys (which can include online, telephone, face-to-face, direct mail,) and observations. There are a number of internal methods that you can employ too – but it is important to realize that these should be used to supplement your own primary research and not used to fill in the blanks of a poorly planned survey.
Speak to your employees
Whilst this data will be more qualitative, further insight can be gained by speaking to your employees – whether they are frontline sales staff or customer service agents – they will be able to provide anecdotal information that could be used to provide extra value to a more quantitative study.
Another way of using anecdotal research like this is to identify areas of your business that may need further exploration. Through these conversations there may be issues opened up that management are unaware of that could be directly impacting on customers – a phased approach to the market research may then be required with each phase going a little deeper if required.
Use secondary data sources to inform your market research plan
Although this was raised as a market research mistake earlier, the use of secondary (and often free) data sources does have a place in market research planning. Pre-published data might enlighten you to trends (past and present) and demographics. The use of census data or other published data can help to identify areas that you might want to explore more fully in your market research plan.
Remember though, this is to be used as more of a planning tool and is not advised to be used to replace primary research.
What is Panel Management?
Having touched on this already you may be wondering what panel management is. A panel management tool is a type of software that allows you to build a panel, recruit panelists, target and administer market research surveys. It can often be used to segment and offer incentives to audiences and can also make the manual job of administering and analyzing such surveys much quicker, easier and making the whole process more cost effective.
Good panel management software should offer a seamless connection between your research panel and collection insightful data making the whole market research process much more simple. It can be a very effective tool and should form part of your marketing plan.
Q One is our panel management, data collection and survey design all-in-one market research software technology. The Q One Platform is a comprehensive, cloud-based, multi-channel and multi-lingual, yet simple to use market research technology solution. From the proposal to the final invoicing stage the system does everything you need to run market research projects and can be operated by a minimum amount of human resource. Project information, collected data and panel participation are tracked in real-time. The Q One Platform is built by researchers for researchers. This is our business advantage.
Our cloud based, fully customizable system allows you to create the most complex market research projects that can be set up in the blink of an eye. The Q One platform works on a multitude of channels including online, SMS, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and fax.
The Q One platform gives you all the benefits of a well-designed market research plan and allows you to set up and implement this quickly and cost effectively. Engineered and designed by a team of market research professionals, Q One is the all-in-one solution for your market research needs.
The real benefit of Q One is seen in the title of this article. Q One allows you to implement your well thought out market research plan. This in turn will provide you with real insight in to your business and will ultimately allow you to produce results that are actionable. Actionable results give you power as a business owner, this power will usually lead to better decision making which usually leads to greater success.
Results that are actionable and based on real customer insight and that have real validity supported through good qualitative and quantitative research will almost always provide an upturn in sales and revenue in the long term.
If you’d like to see the Q One platform for yourself then why not book your free demo here to see it working live.