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Industry News

Four ways to research your potential customers

Interviewing your potential customer base could help your company get started.

Interviewing your potential customer base could help your company get started.

Market research is one of the most important things you can do when starting your own company. It's imperative that you know who you're selling to before launching your organization so you can focus your messaging exclusively on those who will buy your products and services. To do that you'll need to know how to research your target market. 

A recent Entrepreneur article listed four ways for organizations to research their target audience. They are:

Focus groups: Focus groups are an ideal way to obtain qualitative data from your target audience. Starting a discussion regarding what your target market is looking for in terms of products and services can help you refocus your messaging and can drive future development initiatives. Moderating a focus group can take a lot of work, but can produce truly valuable results.

Phone interviews: This is a cheaper and less strenuous alternative. You may find some resistance from those who don't want to divulge information over the phone, particularly when they are caught off guard with an unexpected phone call. However, those who are willing to share with you over the phone can be a valuable asset.

Email interviews: You may find slightly less resistance than you would with phone interviews because recipients can answer questions at their leisure, but you will lose the ability to engage in an interpersonal conversation. Again, this effort doesn't cost a whole lot and can yield strong results, even if you have to wade through some unusable responses.

Direct mail interviews: This may seem like an antiquated option, but physical mail is often opened more than email. Most responses you receive will likely prove to be useful.

Regardless of what option you select, it's important to do what you can to receive the best possible responses, as that will maximize the value of your research efforts.

"A market research firm can help you if you feel that primary research is too complicated to do on your own. These firms will charge a few thousand dollars or more, but depending on the complexity of the information you need, you may feel the money's well-spent. Your local chamber of commerce can recommend firms or individuals who can conduct market research for smaller businesses on a budget," the article says. "If you need assistance but don't want to spend that kind of cash, you can go to your SBA district office for guidance; counselors can help you figure out what types of questions you need to ask your target market. As with secondary research, the Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Centers, colleges and universities are good sources of help with primary research."

Research is an important part of starting your own company, but you must make sure first that you are in position to get the organization off the ground. Learning how to incorporate your business will allow you to set your organization up for success. An incorporated business can also add a sense of professionalism to your interview efforts, which could increase the chances of receiving valid responses from your target market.