3 ways to do market research for your start-up

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When it comes to marketing, getting to know your target audience is one of the most important things you can do. Every business has its own subtleties and quirks, from the people you’ll sim to attract, through to your competitors and the social media you should be using. Here, we’ve got 3 handy ways to do market research for your start-up!

1. Know your audience 

In any start up, the potential customers who will be consuming your product or service are the most important people to focus on. There are various ways you can get to know your audience better. These include: 

Surveys – The best way to find out what your audience wants is to simply ask them! And thanks to platforms like survey monkey, it’s now easier than ever to get a comprehensive view of the market you’re launching your start-up in.

If you want to go down an old-fashioned route, you could also try paper surveys, although these may be harder to distribute. And if you do make an online survey, don’t just make it and leave it – spread it around every social media platform you can. In fact, use online voting software as this could be an excellent opportunity to get your social media pages going – another vital aspect of business. 

Before you get started with a survey, it’s best to plan out the questions beforehand – really think carefully about what you need to know. What are you looking to gain from this market research? Make sure the questions in your survey are comprehensive and relevant. 

Focus groups – Like surveys, but in person.

Although they’ll probably be more hassle to organise, focus groups give you a chance to speak to your target market directly and will most likely need to a more flexible conversation, with more freedom to bring up a wide variety of subjects. However, due to this, you may need to put more effort into making sure the discussion stays on topic! 

It might also be a good idea to record and transcribe your discussions as opposed to taking notes in the moment. Although it may take longer, it’s best if you can look over the entire conversation, so you can really analyse everything said. Either invest in a high-quality Dictaphone or record it in the notes of your phone – either can work. 

Target audience models – when developing your start up, it’s good to have an idea of who your target market will be. Creating a model of your ideal client, on paper or even on something like Powerpoint, will give a more comprehensive idea of the market you’re launching yourself into. This can also help with the previous two, as you’ll know who to ask to come to your focus groups and complete your surveys. 

2. Research your competitors

The people you’ll be working alongside and/or against are also incredibly important to your start up! To understand how to be successful, it’s a really good idea to look at what others in your industry are doing right, as this will give you a better handle on the market as a whole. And in the digital age, its easier than ever to know who’s who and what’s what. 

First of all, do your research and look up who your key competitors will be. Analyse their online presence on a surface level – what about them makes people respond? Which of their social media posts, products and/or services do people seem to like the most? Once you have more of a clear idea of what’s worked for others, you’ll be able to see what could work for you.

On a similar note, checking your competitors backlinks is a more in-depth way of knowing how they’re doing. If you’re not up on SEO (aka search engine optimisation), yet, backlinks are the amount of links to a site that exist online and in terms of markers of success they’re pretty significant. Online tools like Moz Backlink checker will allow you to enter any URL you want and see that sites backlinks – meaning you’ll be able to see what parts of the site you’re looking at are the most successful. 

3. Look into your own social media

This one works especially well if you’re already active on social media but can also be applied if you’re just getting started in that field. Much like our previous advice for looking into the pages of your competitors, if you’re up on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or anything else, look into the posts that get the most attention.

If you don’t already have social media, the sites you use will largely depend on your audience – for example, the older generations tend to prefer sites like Facebook, younger people are more likely to use Instagram and Twitter appeals to all generations. 

You could even take this a step further and use the “poll” feature that exists on various sites to ask your audience anything you want to know. But be careful – the most important thing about a business social media is to connect with your audience on a personal level and to make your start up or business feel more “human”. Asking constant marketing questions could very easily put that in jeopardy. 

One final way you can use social media to aid your market research, which links in with our previous point of looking into your competitors, is to look at the people who follow them and like their posts and then take a quick glance at their profiles (if they’re public of course). We’re not advocating that you spy on your target market but just taking a brief look at what else they’ve liked could give you more of an insight into where to direct your marketing. 

In conclusion, there are a multitude of ways you can get to know your audience, your competitors and your overall market better. These include looking into your competitors in greater depth, gaining a more comprehensive view of your target audience through surveys, audience models and focus groups and even taking a look at your social media if its been active for a while.

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