Most entrepreneurs prioritize market research when they’re first starting their business. They take time to dive into their ideal clients’ likes, wants, and needs. It’s how they can map out their business plan and stand out from the crowd.
Though these findings are incredibly beneficial as you’re starting your entrepreneurial journey, the reality is that the market will continue to change. And, if you don’t keep up, your business will inevitably fall behind.
The solution? Start refreshing your market research. It’s time to hit the drawing board and get in touch with how you can guide your ideal clients and customers to success. If you’re not exactly sure how you can do so, here are four ways to amp up your market research efforts.
Consider your clientele
Sometimes, entrepreneurs start their business feeling confident in who they will target—only to realize they want to change directions later. This is normal! And it’s why it’s vital to ask yourself if who you’re currently working with is a group you’d like to continue working with in the future.
Do you like what you’re doing? Or do you feel as though something may be missing? For example, you may have started targeting a younger audience, but now, you hope to work in a luxury market. Look at your past and current clients and get clear on where you want to take your business and its marketing efforts.
Make a list of the things you love to do and what you’d prefer to leave behind. This is a great time to think—about what you wanted to do when you first started but never brought to life. For example, maybe you’re a website designer who hopes to create digital templates. Regardless of the idea, write it all down here!
Tap into your listening powers
Once you’re clear on who you want to target, it’s time to listen to what they have to say. There are so many places your ideal clients spend time online–Facebook, Reddit, NextDoor, and other community groups are great places to start. Tap into these groups and note what your audience is sharing with one another.
What pain points do they have? How could they use your help? Consider how you can adjust your business to serve them better. Maybe, a few years ago, your customer was looking for a new meal plan. But now, with a rise in working remotely, they’re looking for at-home workout options. It’s all about adjusting your scope to meet their needs.
Take a look at the competition
While the goal here isn’t to replicate what your competitors are doing, it’s still best practice to understand their efforts. By doing so, you’ll be more aware of what’s available to your market. For example, what are brands doing well? Are there any up-and-coming trends to keep an eye on?
Consider conducting a SWOT analysis here regarding those inside your industry.
- Strengths – First, focus on the strengths your business currently has. Think about what you do well, whether it’s customer service or social media marketing.
- Weaknesses – Then, flesh out any shortcomings you might have. For example, maybe you fail to email your list of subscribers consistently, or you haven’t updated your onboarding process in over a year.
- Opportunities – The good news is that even though you have weaknesses, you have even more opportunities. Take time to think about where you can take your business, whether it’s showing up on a new social media platform or creating an entirely new product.
- Threats – All businesses have threats that pose a risk to their success. Determine what your threats are to conclude your analysis. This might be a competitor or something that could impact your overall reputation
Make it a habit
If you’re truly going to refresh your market research, you will need to mark a date on your calendar. A business task like this can easily fall to the bottom of your schedule—so long as you let it. But, if you’re serious about remaining relevant and becoming a pioneer in your industry, you must make this research a top priority.
Consider blocking out a specific week on your calendar every 4-6 months where you and your team can sit down and work through the above steps. No extra calls or meetings—just quality time spent looking at your market and how you can emerge as a leader.
It may sound tedious, but market research is the tool your business can use to stand out against the noise. Your findings will help you build trust amongst your audience and turn followers into loyal clients and customers. So put in the work, and you’re sure to reap the benefits!
Nora Sheils is the co-founder of Rock Paper Coin, the first software platform to bring together wedding planners, couples, and vendors into one system for managing and paying contracts and invoices. She is also the founder and lead wedding planner of award-winning firm Bridal Bliss. In addition to recognition by Portland Business Journal in its 40 Under 40 series, she also earned a spot in The BizBash 500 for 2021.