Whatever your business it will only succeed if customers like your product or service and are prepared to give you money in exchange. People rarely buy things just for the sake of owning them; they buy things to enable them to do the things they want to do to fulfil their needs.
That is why it is important to undertake thorough market research and to assess the results of that market research carefully. Do not get overly carried away with your enthusiasm - see things as they are, not as you would like to see them. Before launching a new product or service you need to be able to:
- define your position in the market place
- define your product or service
- identify your potential customers, their needs and
- determine the price your customers will be prepared to pay
- identify the level of quality and service your customers require
- describe your competitors, what they offer and their strengths and weaknesses
- describe how best to communicate your message to your prospective customers
- decide where your advertising campaign should be conducted
- and, estimate your potential market share
The more detailed your market research the sounder, more reliable the rest of your business planning will be. Market research identifies customer potential. Take time to do it properly and repeat it until you get results that are reliable. Remember, by finding out what customers want and then providing them with it at a profit, your chances of success are vastly increased.
Many Shell LiveWIRE members 'test the water' of their new business ideas by posting links to short online surveys or polls on our Discussion Forum - a great way to gather information and feedback quickly and easily.
For more detailed help and advice, Shell LiveWIRE has produced a handy free guide called ‘Market Research for the First Time’ which is available to download from the My Business Kit section of this website. (Please note: you will need to login or register for a free account before you can download this guide).
Each business, however small, should take time to identify its marketplace, its customer types and what benefits these customers are looking for. However, you’d be surprised how few businesses feel that they have the time or resources to really research this thoroughly.
Whether starting a business for the first time, or aiming to grow a business, all companies need to understand what makes them stand out and appeal - but viewed through customers’ eyes! This can help you develop your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), a statement of how your product or service differs uniquely from competitive offers.
Some words of advice on market research by Shell LiveWIRE member Laurence Allen of Smart Setting (www.smartsetting.com), a tableware hire company based in Wiltshire.
Alun Davies of deeg Consultancy provides his top tips for carrying out market research. Alun won a Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award for February of 2011.
Jude Pullen, designer of The Pressure Alert and winner of a Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award in June 2009, reveals his top 5 tips for aspiring entrepreneurs.