Globally, companies and corporations spend millions of dollars per year just to conduct Business Research. Business Research is needed for many purposes – from identifying a target market to speculating growth opportunities and constantly being on the lookout for one-upping competitors.
Without research, a business struggles to position its brand in the market. It doesn’t understand how its competitors price their offerings and market their products/services. A business without research is the same as shooting blank arrows in a dark room. No matter how many creatives or offers you come up with, you’ll never be able to figure out who to target.
As Neil Armstrong once said:
Research is creating new knowledgeNeil Armstrong
At PlayTru Media, we’re all about sharing growth hacks in Marketing & Business to get students and creative entrepreneurs go from 0 to 7-figures one day. We want to make education as simple and as accessible as possible. This is why when talking about Business Research, we’re not going to get technical and add a bunch of jargon here. This article will be practical and action-oriented so you can apply it in real-time situations, instantly.
Business Research for Businesses – Understand Your Audience
Whichever industry your business is in – from consumer goods to electronics, health and wellness to fintech – understanding your audience is the single-biggest outcome that once achieved, continues to pay dividends eternally.
Most businesses get caught up in the traffic trying to fine-tune their offering according to what they think best. But they never seem to ask the question – “What does my customer think is best”? Think of it this way:
- Do you exist to serve a business purpose?
- Do you exist to provide solutions to a defined market?
You want to understand your audience down to their very core. This includes:
- Their age, gender, and demographic (where they come from)
- What kind of solutions they have already tried
- Their single biggest problem and possible outcomes
- Their average salary, expenses, and lifestyle
- Their hobbies, interests, and passion
You want to become their best friend, their trusted confidante. How do you do that? By understanding their emotions and how solving their problems can relieve them of negative emotions.
Here are some ways to understand your audience:
- Conduct a survey asking your audience what their pain points are, what solutions they have tried, and what they feel is lacking in the current market – to get a head-start, implement this on your existing customer base, if you have already
- Connect with Research Groups like Gallup & McKinsey and analyze what data they have on your target audience
- Conduct a social media outreach reaching to potential customers
- Cold call or cold email prospects
Business Research for Businesses – Analyze Your Competitors
Okay! So, now you’re well on your way to understanding your audience. Now, it’s time to understand who else is doing what you want to do.
Essentially, you want to be looking for any gaps and opportunities being left by your competitors. For an in-depth analysis, group your competitors in terms of:
- Aspirational: These are competitors at the top of their game (you want to reach these heights)
- Direct Competitors: These are businesses that have the same product as you and are in the same industry
- Indirect Competitors: These are businesses that are in a different industry but have more or less the same offering as you
To add a bit more organization, create a Google Sheet creating different tabs for each of these competitors. Then, add 3-5 competitors into each tab and specify their business type, industry, contact information, offerings, MVP, etc.
You want to understand how these businesses are currently positioning themselves and organizing all of that information in an Excel spreadsheet or a Google Sheets file is the best way to do so.
Finally, when analyzing your competitors, here are the things that you want to prioritize when track and gain insights on
- Their target market, size of business, and reach
- Their marketing strategy, personnel, and deliverables
- Their offering, pricing, and messaging framework
- Their position in the market and the social sentiment around it
All of these factors will help you finalize your own offering of your product. A company’s strategy depends not only on its audience but also the nature of business it’s in and the resources it has in place. You don’t want to be employing the strategies of a 10 year-old business even if they are in the same industry as your business.
Business Research for Businesses – Position Your Brand
This is where the first two phases of your business research plan come into play. Taking all of the elements from the insights that you gain through competitor analysis and personal research, you are now going to create a unique position for your business in the market.
Surprisingly, this is also the phase where a lot of businesses get it wrong. Implementation is perhaps the most important aspect in any thing when it comes to life. But what if you don’t have an objective perspective in place? What if instead of :
- Taking notes of what your competitor did, you criticize their approach even though that approach brought them results.
- Taking your audience’s pain points into account, you decided to go with a gung-ho approach of beating your product’s own proverbial drum
Being objective and open-minded are crucial traits that every business leader should have.
Here are some ways to start positioning your business the right way:
- Do what your competitors did but do it better – Maybe your competitor offered their product with a discount that is perhaps costing them more than the return they are getting. It’s your opportunity to pounce at
- Be more approachable – As a business, it’s easy to ignore what customers say. Instead of reaching out to them, let them approach you an give you feedback
- Focus on Customer Service – This ties in well with step 2. When you focus on improving and maintaining customer service standards, your customers will be the one who will help you track progress
- Build a brand – Instead of focusing only on sales, add a human perspective to your brand and make it something that your customers can actually relate to. Your competitors probably aren’t building a brand and if you do, you’ve got your business in it for the long-term
As with every aspect of your business, research is something that will yield results slowly. However, it will give you an even ground to play with the competition that has probably existed for years. The core purpose of business research is to make your offering stand out.
Furthermore, you will only be able to stand out when you actually start to realize what’s already been done. Business Research and especially its implementation is a tedious process and there will be a lot of blocked emails, ended calls, and ignored texts before you start scraping the surface to success. Patience will be your best friend here.
To get the most out of Business Research, employ it to each and every facet of your business. Have weekly check-ins with your various department heads (& employees) about the direction they see the business taking and most benefiting from. Conduct regular surveys from your customers and have them scrutinize parts of your business. Your internal stakeholders can be the best source of feedback as they are interacting first hand with the market you’re in.
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