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Market research

One area several businesses lack in is their market research. Market research is important because it provides relevant data to the marketing team to determine several different problems they may encounter. It then forces the marketing team to figure out what to do about those problems. If you are a new company, market research is extremely important for your company to get going.

What is market research?
First things first, what exactly is market research? Market research is simply using surveys to identify what your target market is and if you are using the right products for them. Market research will help you create an identity for your company and separate your company from your competitors. Some companies use historical data while others prefer observational (survey) data. There are 2 main types of data you will collect and analyze. First there is primary data; this is compiled by you or an outside company. Then there is secondary data, this is when the data is already organized and all you need to do is analyze it.

Conducting Primary Research
When you are conducting primary research, you must define what answers you need. For example, if you have a specific problem that you need an answer to, primary research will help you not only define the problem but find a solution for it. Normally you will call in a small group of people and have them help you define the problems. This small group needs to be broad as you want to get a good feel for different audiences.

Some examples of primary research include phone surveys and direct mail pieces. Almost everyone has gotten a direct mail piece, even if it comes via email. Normally people do not like to take time to sit there and fill out the surveys, so it is important to make the surveys short and quick. The individuals you target need to be interested in the survey in order for it to work. Try to keep the total time under 5 minutes; this means the direct mail piece should be less than 2 pages. If you use direct mail, always be sure to include a postage-paid and self-addressed envelope. Make sure you target the right audience because the response rate is normally under 5 percent.

You can always use telephone surveys to gain the information you need. The bad thing about phone surveys is that people generally consider them a telemarketing ploy and will hang-up on you. Make sure you identify yourself when you are calling, and then confirm their identity. Make the entire interview brief and avoid long pauses because this tends to cause the listener to lose interest.

Deciding which type of research to use
As you try to figure out which route you want to go, you need to remember what your total marketing budget is. Can you afford to pay for direct mail pieces and then pay for the paid envelopes to come back? How much time can you dedicate to phone interviews? Time is always a factor when determining which route to go so be sure that you know exactly how much money you can spend before you make your decision.

Secondary Research
Once all the research has been collected and organized, it is time to start evaluating it. You need to make a list of your most-pressing issues at the beginning and start from there. All the data you collect will not only help you define your biggest issues, but it will help you start on the path to fixing them. If you aren't satisfied with the results, conduct more interviews. Try incorporating personal interviews in conjunction with the direct mail and telephone interviews because this will broaden your spectrum and give you clearer answers.

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