5 Strategies that Will Make You a Market Research Jedi

I spent most of last year working on consulting projects for a variety of companies. Each client came to my team with a different question: one wanted to know how to attract millennials to community banking. One wanted to figure out how they could re-design their news website to attract suburban mothers. And, another wanted to determine the feasibility of entering a foreign market with a new product. While these requests varied greatly, they shared a common starting point—market research. In order to provide valuable recommendations for our clients, we had to ask ourselves a series of questions. What was the company providing? What were the demographics of their current customers and how were they being reached? How was each company perceived by their audience? The list goes on and on. While all these unanswered questions seemed daunting at first, we found a number of online marketing tools to support us. If you want to learn how to do market research, the following marketing tools may become your new best friends:[bctt tweet="5 Strategies that Will Make You a #MarketResearch #Jedi, by @AnnMJavier"]

Use databases to research your industry:

When conducting market analysis, you’ll probably want to start by analyzing the environment you’re in. What does your industry look like? Who are your competitors? Use SWOT analysis or Porter's Five Forces to draw high-level conclusions about the company's challenges and opportunities. This is one of those times you can’t go looking on Wikipedia for answers. My go-to market research database is EBSCOhost’s Business Source Complete, which allows you to dive into detailed industry reports, company profiles, case studies, and more. Similar tools like Avention and IBISWorld provide a plethora of economic, demographic, and government data. By learning more about your industry and evaluating trends, you can get an idea of where you stand and how to move forward.[bctt tweet="Use #databases to analyze your environment and evaluate market trends - @AnnMJavier"]

Conduct market research surveys:

To understand your target market, you have to ask them questions. You’ll want to know what their thinking process is, what their daily lives are like, and why they may be interested in your product/service. An efficient way to do this is by creating and administering online surveys. My favorite free survey platforms are SurveyMonkey and Typeform. While SurveyMonkey can be very thorough, Typeform wins in the user experience category with its sleek design aesthetics. Both platforms provide user-friendly interfaces that allow you to design surveys, collect responses, and analyze results.

Analyze shared content:

Analyzing content will add further insight in your market research process. Buzzsumo points you toward the most shared content relevant to your topic or query, including articles, interviews, infographics, and videos. You can also find the key influencers in the industry and get alerts in real time when new content on your topic is published. Use Buzzsumo to quickly find out what kind of content works well and who the key contributors are in the conversation.[bctt tweet="Dig through #content to find out who your industry's key influencers are - @AnnMJavier" via="no"]

Draw real-time conclusions with mobile applications:

Want real-time feedback on a study? While they aren’t traditional forms of market analysis, mobile apps like DScout and MyInsights allow you to create tasks for users to complete while capturing their thoughts through journal entries and pictures. The process is pretty simple - you make a project, screen participants, and have them finish your tasks within a set duration of time. Most of us are glued to our smartphones, so this is a great tool to use if you want to retrieve data on user experiences as they occur.[bctt tweet="Get user-generated #data in real-time with mobile #research apps - @AnnMJavier"]

Leverage social media:

Market research methods can also include social media. We all always want to know what’s trending, and Twitter’s Advanced Search allows you to do an in-depth search on what is being said about your product or company in the Twitterverse. You can search words, phrases, and of course hashtags, written in almost any language. You can also determine which accounts these are coming from or which accounts are mentioned, and narrow down your search by location and date. This is an awesome source if you want to find out all the latest news and gossip about your product.

From my perspective, the first day of briefs with a new client or project is the most intimidating. But, even when I began a project from scratch, these marketing tools gave me a starting point and allowed me to deliver beneficial proposals. As you gather data and weed through your market analysis, it's easy to lose sight of the original task you were given on day one. In my experience, when I got stuck in my research, it was wise to return to the original question and company positioning statement. By identifying what kind of company they were, what they were providing, and the type of consumers they were going after, I was usually able to recenter my focus.[bctt tweet="If you get lost in your #marketresearch, think back to the company positioning statement - @AnnMJavier" via="no"]

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Photo credit: Louis K. via Flickr cc