You’ve no doubt heard how important “market research” is. But how do you go about gathering that data when you can’t afford to pay for it?
Marketing “gurus” will tell you you’re doomed for failure without a gazillion-page market analysis. But in the real world, us small business owners don’t have an extra few thousand dollars laying around, so let’s talk about some low-cost ways you can gather similar, useful information.
Instagram Stories is great for this! You can ask questions, ask for feedback, provide multiple choice questions/options for people to respond to, and so much more. Who better to ask than your already-engaged followers?
Talk about your idea to everyone you come in contact with who has the potential to fulfill the category of your “target client/customer”. Gauge their reaction and ask follow up questions to dig a little deeper. Pay attention to what excites them and what makes them hesitate (or makes their eyes glaze over!). You want to get a true sense of what aspects of your idea really capture people’s attention or imagination.
Wherever your target clients are hanging out… go there! This might be online groups, pages, message boards or forums. Join the conversation and seek feedback on your idea. Just keep in mind you’ll receive much more genuine feedback if you’re an active member of these groups returning the favour for other members. If you just swoop in asking for help having never engaged before, you’re less likely to get the type of valuable information you need.
Create a list of businesses offering a service or product similar to your idea and then take a deep dive on them. I’m not just talking about perusing their website or the photos they share… go further. Read the comment threads on their Instagram or Facebook posts. Watch how frequently they update their website. Look at reviews they receive on multiple different platforms. You get the idea here.
This depends on whether you’re looking to grow an existing business or are starting from scratch with something new. If you’re growing or expanding an existing business, your former and existing clientele are the perfect people to reach out to and seek input. Schedule some one-on-one phone calls and create a basic survey in SurveyMonkey or Google Forms and send it out via email. The idea here is you want both quantitative AND qualitative data. Surveys are often great for quantitative data, but for that more in-depth feedback, a personal call or face-to-face meeting is going to be your golden ticket.
Everything I’ve just listed here is ABSOLUTELY FREE and doesn’t require any expertise outside of your knowledge of the business you seek to create and grow. Combine your instinct with this data, and you’ve got a grass-roots market analysis that will have you well on the way to bringing your big idea to life!
Never underestimate a small business owner! Where there’s a will, there’s a way.