You have spent a great deal of time and effort on creating your brand. Part of the creation process is identifying your target audience and building customer loyalty. But how much market research did you perform during the process? Have you continued to research and communicate with your target audience?

What is market research?

Market research is comprised of tools and methods that allow you to understand the pulse of your customers. It tells you what they are looking for, what they are interested in, what motivates them, and how they perceive your brand.

Here are two research tools that any business owner can perform to understand better their customers, their opinions about the business, and insight into your competitors.

Focus Groups

In today’s business environment, focus groups can easily be performed in a virtual environment for market research. It is best to have a moderator not employed or affiliated with the business to ask the participants questions. Focus groups encourage free and open discussion, allowing you to get a deeper understanding of why they feel the way they do. Gather a handful of your loyal customers and be prepared with questions. Record the virtual focus group responses to understand the nuances best and hear and see their reactions to your questions. Here is a sampling of basic focus group questions:

  • What is your favorite thing about our business?
  • What is something our business needs to improve upon?
  • Do you frequent our competitors? Why?
  • What do you like better about the competitor?
  • What key differences do you notice between our business and our competitors?
  • Do you have suggestions for how we can improve?

Be sure to thank your customers for attending the focus group. It does take more time, especially if the group met in person. If the meeting is in person, you should provide beverages and snacks. In our virtual world, follow up with a gift card or a discount on your goods or services.

Surveys

Surveys provide valuable insight when properly utilized for market research. Hire a professional to help write the questions so as not to lead the respondent in any way. There is an art to writing survey questions and the order in which they appear. Surveys are similar to focus groups but are performed at the customer’s convenience. Because surveys are done privately as opposed to a focus group, the customer is not influenced by the others in the room, nor are they intimidated by making an honest assessment, positive or negative.

A good survey should take no more than five minutes to complete. We are often asked about offering an incentive to complete the survey:

  • Incentives may drive an increase in responses
  • The customer may feel influenced to be kinder because you offered a reward.
  • The responses may not accurately reflect their opinion if they run through quickly to get it done and get the reward.

Focus groups are more qualitative and deliver greater quality, or depth, of information. The moderator can delve deeper into their answers and the why of their opinions.

Surveys are more quantitative because of the possibility of a significant number of responses. It allows you to speak with more customers but not in an in-depth way.

Ok, you have the data, now what do you do with it?

Best case scenario? There are no surprises. Your response to the information obtained will be to make suggested improvements, but you are doing pretty well for the most part. You have customers who are loyal and actively engaged; their perception of the brand matches yours.

When your market research shows surprises or makes you aware of something you were not, you need to evaluate what you are doing. Are there things out of your control? If so, that does not always matter because it is still the perception of your customers. Maximize the positives and address the negatives when possible. Most importantly, let your customers know what you are doing. Tell them why you did the focus group or survey. Share the things you are going to do to be better. We heard you, and here is what we are doing to improve. People appreciate the fact that you listened and took action. It enhances the customer experience and drives greater customer loyalty. You listened to them. You care about them.

What is the hardest part of the market research process? Listen and never argue. Their perception is what it is, and it is their truth. Tell them you will make it better…. then do it!

Do you want to know what your customers think?

Most business owners are unsure about tackling this on their own. They want to know what their customers think but need help.

In some cases, the owners have performed a survey or obtained research from various resources and are unsure how to interpret the data. We can figure this out for you and suggest improvements to your

Embrace it! Your brand may change and improve for you and your customers. The change came directly from your customers. It doesn’t get better than that! So, give us 30 minutes of your time, and let’s see what your customers are saying.

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