Getting to know your clients’ and potential customers’ preferences and buying patterns requires market research. You also need to get to know your target market to drive sales and product innovation.
- Identify opportunities
- Lower risk
- Target marketing
- Manage budget
- Focus business goals
- Improve decision making
In order to get the full benefit of your efforts, you need intentional research design. You’ll want to also steer clear of these seven market research pitfalls.
1. Asking too much
You want to understand your audience. You have so many questions! But you can’t ask them all at once. No one likes to feel as if they’re on the hot seat. Plus, the customer or client’s time is valuable. If you ask them to participate in bloated market research, they may opt out midway through.
The solution? Take the time to home in on your priorities. What do you really want to know now? Craft concise questions that target exactly the information you are looking to learn.
A short, to-the-point survey will get you more responses. That can help with the overall accuracy of your findings.
2. Poorly written questions
You know what you want to know. But that doesn’t mean that the person on the other end of your market research does. Sometimes you can be so close to the topic that you don’t see that your inquiries are vague, too broad, or don’t make sense to the external audience. Even when doing internal research, you can’t assume that everyone shares your same perspective.
To avoid this pitfall, you’ll want to get an objective party to take a fresh look at your research plan. Get an outsider’s view before going live with your online survey or another research tool. That way you can make sure you’re going to get useful results from the effort and budget expenditure.
3. Skewed sample
In today’s global market, your customers can be anywhere. Market research keeps you from relying on guesswork about what people need or want. Still, you can’t simply assume that what you learn from one small demographic is representative of the global customer base.
Segmentation is critical in communicating with customers today. To support that personalization, you’ll also need to segment your market research. There are many types of market segmentation to consider, including geographic, psychographic, and demographic. Make sure you know what representative population you are trying to understand and then make a targeted effort to collect data from that group.
4. Making last-minute changes
You may have many stakeholders offering input in your market research. Everyone has a point of view. Still, avoid making last-minute changes to the questions that you ask.
Yes, you need to be able to adapt and change your research project. But doing so close to the deadline (after already receiving lots of responses) can lead to mistakes. You could tweak a question to suit someone’s comments without noticing how that change undermines the overall coherence of the research questions.
5. Using the wrong tool
Just because your business has always done phone surveys in the past, or focus groups, it doesn’t necessarily mean that option is the best market research tool for all of your needs. Again, it goes back to knowing what your specific goals are (and also your budget).
Identifying your priorities before embarking on a market research project can help you decide on the tool that works best.
6. Biased analysis
Bias is any distortion that skews the research results. If you’re not careful, you can set up your research in a biased way. You can also view your research findings through a specific, slanted lens. This is particularly difficult when it comes to analyzing qualitative data. It’s not as black and white as the data you get from quantitative research.
To combat bias in your market research analysis, it’s a good idea to:
- Take stock of your own assumptions
- Try to challenge and overcome your assumptions and hypotheses
- Check for unsupported or unsubstantiated claims
- Learn more about the biases that can sneak into your work
7. Not doing anything with the results
Market research is only useful if you do something with what you learn. Don’t make the findings so difficult to understand that no one can find value in the results. Also, have a plan for distributing the results to the right stakeholders.
Plan to communicate the key findings, and establish a process for following up to see how the information has been incorporated internally.
Writing a good market research analysis report can go a long way, too. We’ll talk about how to do that in the next article in this series, which will be focused on market research analysis.