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Market research that will greatly benefit small businesses

One of the things that helps to determine whether or not a small business fails or prospers is whether or not the right kind of marketing is done. Marketing efforts that are aimed at the wrong people or clients can be a waste of time and money and ultimately hinders a business's efforts to attract new customers.

In order to help prevent this and to evaluate current methods, market research can be used to greatly benefit small businesses.

What is market research?
Market research is a series of objective methods used to collect and analyze various information about your target market, potential customers, and your competition, among other things. Market research is beneficial in that it can help a small business to decide best ways to advertise, how to gain an advantage over the competition, and so forth

Market research is an ongoing process. While it costs money to conduct market research, if it is used correctly and effectively, it can actually end up saving the company a great deal of money and helping a small business to make the most profitable decisions. For example, let's say you want to send a survey to your target audience that will cost $500 for printing and postage. Based on the information you receive from that survey, you are able to better serve the needs of your target market. As a result, you gain a number of new customers who increase your revenue by $5000, giving you a profit of $4500 after the cost of the research.

Market research can also help you to identify your success and make changes in your marketing strategies where necessary.

Types of market research
Market research comes in many different forms, but typically they are divided into two groups - ad hoc and continuous.

Ad hoc market research is used primarily to focus on specific marketing problems. It is used in the form of studies from a number of respondents. Ad hoc is very beneficial for small businesses and includes the following:
- Product surveys. These surveys ask about the ease of use, the design, and other information that helps businesses determine the potential success of their products, then works to make any necessary improvements.
- Corporate image surveys. These are a good way to determine whether you need to do any damage control, or how to tailor your image to your target market. For example, if your target market is twenty-somethings and your respondents say your business has an old-fashioned or outdated image, you might then want to consider updating things.
- Customer satisfaction surveys. These surveys are also a good way of helping you see where you need to improve and go beyond the product itself and focus more on the service, support, and helpfulness of employees.

Continuous market research involves surveys that interview the same people repeatedly. They can include:

- Ad tracking. This monitors an advertisement's success.
- Consumer panels. This includes large numbers of people who provide information over their buying time. Examples include Nielson Ratings on television.
- Mystery shopping/testing. An undercover shopper or customer tests the way business is run, then provides feedback.

There are a number of different types of market research, many of which can be very beneficial to a small business. The above are just a few types that will help small businesses better cater their marketing efforts.

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