Guest Post: Customers asked, but did you listen?

By Stefanie Amini, Marketing Director, WalkMe

Market research is able to give businesses a prospective picture over the products and services which they can release in order to gain profits. Many companies have already done these kinds of studies, but after they’ve spent large amounts of money on them, they found out that the feedback gained as a result of these studies was too hard to implement. So, how can we avoid this type of error?

ListeningWe often think of marketing research studies even before we put our business on the market. We consider that they need to be very elaborate and precise, indicating that they should therefore cost a large amount of money. The good news is that we can probe the market with little cost, but we have to ensure that the research is done correctly and that the feedback is easy to implement.

There are entrepreneurs who are facing the fact that they cannot afford market research before they launch their business. However, you cannot afford not to do a substantial market research exercise. Even if you start a business or launch a new product, you have to see if there is a demand for that product or service. If you already know the product you are looking for, you might be interested in opinions from the client in question.

If there is no guarantee on the success of the product or service that will be released, then it’s strongly recommended that you contact the individuals and companies who could become clients. Discussions can be useful to provide perspective, and you may obtain further market intelligence. Furthermore, this dialogue will open the possibility that these potential clients could use your product or service in the future.

Launching a product in a given market should show that you have strong knowledge of the industry you’re activating in, including extreme awareness of your competitors in that segment. Therefore, contacting associations, visiting the Chamber of Commerce and other concerned institutions, or participating in trade fairs should become a habit. Using these opportunities to network with the greater community will help you develop business leads as well as enhance your own understanding of your market.

There is useful information in the possession of different institutions, information which can be obtained quite easily. For example, if you want to open a restaurant and you’re considering renting or buying a space found on a street corner, you can check the traffic of the target area during a certain period of time, etc.

Once you have gathered information about the market, you must also analyse the competition. The biggest mistake an entrepreneur can make is to discount both competitor business categories: the direct competitors, and the indirect or perceived competitors. For instance, a future fitness trainer must take into account both markets: the other personal trainers, and also the other fitness clubs available.

How to analyse your competition? Again, there is no need for fabulous sums of money to spy over competitors. A look at the competition’s advertising, brochures, prices, or special offers promises to deliver enough evidence for a strong analysis. There is also the “mystery shopping” research, where you hire a company to buy and test the products from your competition and tell you their opinion about them.

Another very effective way to look for clues is by having a look over the published articles and press releases of your competitors, especially since many of them can be found on the internet. Through such means, you’ll get to see how they manage to exceed their rivals and how they promote themselves to their potential online customers.

Any entrepreneur must bring a novelty or value addition to the products or services they are launching and to try being a little different than the others. Standing out from the market and competitors is imperative to launching a strong business. If you can offer something useful that someone else can’t, that will put you at a strong advantage and enable potential growth.

When doing marketing research, it’s also crucial to avoid some common errors. Here are the most important 4 of them:

– Using only secondary research. If you choose to rely solely on other people’ published work, chances are that you will not get the full picture. Of course, this is still a great point to start from, but keep in mind that the information you obtain from secondary research can be outdated. Thus, you are likely to miss some important and relevant factors for your business.

– Using only web resources. By merely using search engines for information gathering purposes, you’ll only see the data which is available for everyone. Moreover, this data might not always be entirely accurate. In order to gain a deeper knowledge of your competition, you might take advantage of resources from trusted business resources such as industry-related publications and press coverage.

– Surveying only those who you know. Sometimes, business owners choose to interview only their close colleagues or family members in order to reduce costs. However, this method does not guarantee accurate information. For the most up-to-date data, you have to get in touch with the real customers out in the real world.

Not using web tools to analyse customer behaviour. Perhaps you don’t want to do research if your product already is being used. But maybe you would like to know where the problems are occurring. Using guidance software such as WalkMe will help you through the tasks required to analyse customer behaviour and performs them in real time. The analytics that WalkMe offers can help you understand the customer and help improve the service you provide.

By using these tips, you can start to understand the needs of your customers. This advice is designed specifically to help you gain insight in an easy and inexpensive way, thus getting you one step ahead of your competitors.

Stefanie Amini is the Marketing Director and Specialist in Customer Success at WalkMe, the world’s first interactive online guidance system. She is the chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe

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