How to do market research without spending a fortune

If you're a small business owner or are thinking of setting up a new business, you need to be thinking about market research. Market research helps you define your target audience, understand the needs of your customers and inform a marketing strategy. However, conventional market research can be very expensive and cost-prohibitive for a new or small business. 

Below we have some inexpensive ways to perform basic market research. Although not the most scientific methods, they should help you define your typical customers and decipher their buying habits. 

1. Create a customer profile

Who is your typical customer? Think about what they look like in terms of gender, age, location, spending power and likes and dislikes. For example, if you're a nail salon in Clonakilty, your typcial customer might be female, mid-teens to mid-40s with disposable income and an interest in grooming and beauty. Use this customer profile to inform your marketing strategy - whenever you're unsure about your next move, ask yourself whether your typical customer would respond to that type of engagement. 

2. Ask for feedback

Ask your existing customers for feedback on your current service. Why not host a customer appreciation event and ask your customers to fill out a short survey? You'd be surprised how much useful feedback people will leave you if you ask them at a key point in the sales process.

3. Use social

As an extension of the last point, use your social media audience to glean information. Invite customers to do an online survey and perhaps offer an incentive, like a prize or a discount off future purchases. Don't be afraid to ask these online customers about themselves - information like age and gender will be useful when building your customer profile.

4. Look to your competitors

A good strategy could be to look at what your competitors are doing and piggy back off their research. What clientele are they targeting and why? Use this intel to inform your own strategy. 

5. Try a school

Colleges and universities are often looking for small businesses to get involved in business class projects. By volunteering yourself, you will not only have market research done on your behalf, but students may also build you a marketing strategy. 

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