Market Research Tips for Entrepreneurs
Sometimes entrepreneurship can feel a lot like playing a guessing game. How much should you charge for your goods or services? What’s the best place to open a new storefront? Do people even want what I’m selling? Many startups fail to make it past launch because they don’t take the time to answer these basic questions. Conducting some market research can help any entrepreneur test their assumptions about the marketplace and maybe even uncover opportunities and directions for ventures old and new.
When it’s time for your next big business decision, check out these cheap (or even free!) tools to access consumer data or conduct your own new market research.
Tools to Access Existing Data
The Internet is nothing if not a large collection of data. Fortunately, some of the biggest research organizations in the world have made their findings available online for anyone to access at will.
- American Fact Finder: The United States Census Bureau has created a powerful online tool that lets you search through survey data to find information about whatever population is of interest to you. The complete data is only updated every ten years, but supplemental surveys and estimates can give some more recent data about consumers in your local area.
- MyBestSegments: This tool from Claritas offers a simple interface that allows users to analyze segments of American consumers by a number of demographics, including age, income, household composition, and location. MyBestSegments uses Nielsen data and is ideal for businesses trying to learn more about their best customers, where they live, what they like, and how they can be reached.
- Google Trends: Of all the tools on this list, Google Trends is perhaps the most accessible. Using this simple tool, you can visualize search engine traffic surrounding key terms and concepts. If you want to learn when people search the most for what you sell, you can enter related terms and instantly access information like interest in that topic over time or by region, or related topics and queries. This can be especially helpful when planning a digital marketing strategy.
Tools to Conduct Your Own Research
Of course, you may have access to your audience already and might just be interested in learning more about what they think. In that case, there are several tools available that make conducting surveys and original market research easy for you and for your customers.
- SurveyMonkey: SurveyMonkey has become the gold standard for businesses looking to learn anything about their audience. With a basic plan available for free and paid plans available for people who need extra control, SurveyMonkey offers lots of flexibility in setting up surveys. It also integrates with other commonly used software, including MailChimp and Eventbrite, and has mobile apps so you can collect data via email or even in person.
- Survata: While Survata does not offer a free option like SurveyMonkey, it does give you the option to determine a target audience for your surveys. That means you can target your own existing customers, or tell Survata about your ideal customer, and their experts will find respondents for you. They also offer support in reviewing your questions, so you can conduct your surveys with confidence. Plans start at $1 per respondent.
That’s our best list of easy market research tools. What’s yours? Leave a comment with your favorite market research tools, as well as any best practices you’ve picked up along the way.