So, you’ve got a great new idea that you want to sell as a service? Awesome! However, before you throw yourself into marketing the product and trying to drum up business, you need to make sure there’s actually demand for the service. And this is why market research is so important.
Market research will help you discover if you have a unique proposition, whether your customers will be willing to buy it and whether you are different enough from the competition. Small business owners often think that market research is only something for big corporations. However, there are plenty of simple ways you can do market research which can give you some quick answers.
Types of market research
There are two principal types of market research:
• Primary: this is where you get the data directly from the source yourself. Think surveys, focus groups, interviews
• Secondary: this is where you access data produced by others. Think official statistics, information found in libraries, data from small business associations
Let’s look at each of these in turn.
1. Primary Research
Primary research is one of the best ways small businesses can find out what their customers want. At this stage in your service’s life, you really want to narrow down your questions to find out:
• Does your target customer already pay for a similar service, or have they ever done so before?
• Would they pay for a service like yours?
• Do they understand the value of your service/do they need it?
You then need to find people to answer these questions. There are tons of free or cheap online survey tools like Survey Monkey, where you can design your survey and then promote it via email, on social media or via online ads.
2. Secondary Research
For most small businesses, you will be able to access large amounts of the information online. By trying out a few search terms on Google or Bing, you will rapidly come across a lot of reports and statistics. Be aware, of course, that many of the companies providing such ‘research’ likely have their own agenda to sell their readers a product or service. So, take these with a pinch of salt.
For more dependable market research, sites like Market Research can offer huge amounts of (paid) information on almost any market, anywhere in the world. There will also be a lot of free research made available by state, local and national governments in most countries (see here for the USA), although finding out the kind of specific information you want will take some digging.
Finally, it’s worth joining an association for your sector. Most associations charge low entry rates and they can provide you with a lot of resources about your customers and your competitors, among other things.
Learn more about launching your online service here.