What you can do for Market Research?
Marketing research is limited only by your imagination. Much of it you can do with very little cost except your time and mental effort. Don’t forget that many governments – local, state, and federal – have on line data bases like the census that can be targeted for your specific industry and location. Here are a few examples of techniques small business owner-managers have used to gather information about their customers. What you can do for Market Research – with the interenet and help from local Colleges just about anything you want/need when it comes to marketing research.
License plate analysis
In many states license plates give you information about where a car’s owner lives. You can generally get information from state agencies on how to extract this information from license numbers. By taking down the numbers of cars parked in your location you can estimate your trading area. Knowing where your customers live can help you aim your advertising for good effect. Or, how about tracing your competitors’ customers using the same approach to win them for your business.
Telephone number analysis
Like license numbers, telephone numbers can tell you the areas in which people live. You can get customers’ telephone numbers on sales slips, from checks and credit slips, and the like. As noted before, knowing where your customers live can give you an excellent idea of the way they live and what they are like.
Coded coupons and “tell them Joe sent you” broadcast ads
You can check the relative effectiveness of your advertising media by coding coupons and by including phrases customers must use to get a discount on some sale item in your broadcast ads. This technique may also reveal what areas your customers are drawn from. Where they read or heard about the discount offered in your ads will also give you information about their tastes.
You can learn a great deal about your customers just by looking at them. How they dressed? How old do they appear to be? Are they married? Do they have children with them? This technique is obvious and most owner-managers get their feel for their clientele just this way. But how about running a tally sheet for a week keeping track of what you’re able to tell about your customers from simple outward clues? It might just confirm what you’ve thought obvious all the time, but it might also be instructive.
If you are a business owner, these questions are for you. Have you conducted your own private interview of customers? Have you personally talked to at least 50 to 60 customers to find out what they like or dislike about your business, products and service?
A personalized business survey is a simple thing to prepare and implement. If you do it regularly, you can find when and where things are breaking down in your service.
Use a piece of 8.5 x 11 inch paper with the following types of yes and no questions:
1. Is the service we provide meeting your highest expectations? If not, what areas can we improve?
yes _____ no _____
2. Are we providing the brands and lines you want and expect? If not, please list what is needed.
yes _____ no _____
3. Is our business clean and pleasant to be in at all times? How can we improve it?
yes _____ no _____
4. Do you feel the business is truly a part of the community? yes _____ no _____
5. Is it a friendly place? yes _____ no _____
6. Are the prices competitive? yes _____ no _____
7. Do you feel you are getting good values? yes _____ no _____
You may want to include more specific questions, but the key is to keep the survey short and to the point. Keep it personal by preparing and signing it yourself. Leave room for written comments.
Questionnaires should not be stacked at the cash register for casual distribution. Personally present them to customers along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
What can you learn from this? Plenty. What can customers learn? Well, it shows you care and that is always a sales plus.
Do, Don’t Overdo
The key to effective marketing research is neither technique nor data – it’s useful information. That information must be timely; your customers’ likes and dislikes are shifting constantly. You’ll never know everything about a particular problem anyway. It’s much better to get there on time with a little, than too late with a lot. If you spend too much time gathering too much data going for a sure thing, you may find your marketing research is nothing but garbage.