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How To Do Market Research For A Startup Uk

I get an awful lot of hits from the UK (and I’m glad to help out over there) but I get a bit concerned when I get questions about how to do market research there, since it’s really not a country in which I have a lot of experience in. Nonetheless, my website is a free for all for questions and answers, so today we’re going to go over market research tools for small business in the UK.

To know how to conduct market research in startups uk, market research techniques for startups or market research of startups, new business opportunities or business data for your new startup strategy; read the complete article to get all the information.

Start by identifying your target market

Imagine that someone walks into your business, or picks up the phone and calls you. It’s your perfect customer: someone who has the problem that you solve and is willing to spend money on your solution. Now imagine the details about this person. Who are they? Can you describe them?

Ideal customers and common traits

This “ideal customer” is your target market. Now, your business might have several target markets, but it will usually serve you best to keep your list of target markets to two or three.

Each of your target markets should share common traits. These might be demographic traits such as age group, gender groups, income levels, or locations. They might be what are called psychographic traits, which are groups of people that like the same things or have similar interests. Or, your target market might be a certain type of employee at another company, such as a CTO or head of marketing.

Most often, target markets are blends of demographic and psychographic groups. For example, you might be developing a new type of shoe targeted at female triathletes. Or you might be opening a hair salon targeting urban, hipster men.

Market segmentation

Creating multiple target markets for your company is doing what’s called “market segmentation.” This sounds complex, but all you’re doing is dividing your target markets up into different groups that you hope to sell to. Each market segment might have different characteristics and might buy your product or service for different reasons.

You might end up coming up with different marketing campaigns for different market segments or even customizing your product or service for each segment.

Talk to your potential customers

Once you have identified your target market, or at least made a good guess at who your target market is, you need to take the most important step in this entire market research process. You need to get up from your desk, get out from behind your computer, and go outside. That’s right, you need to go and actually talk to people in your potential target markets. This is called primary market research.

Yes, you can do online surveys and other research, but that’s no substitute for actually talking to potential customers. You’ll gain more insight into your customers just by seeing their work or home environments, and get a better understanding of how they make buying decisions by actually talking with them than any survey will ever tell you.

Do this one thing, and you’ll be miles ahead of your competition. Why? Because most people skip this step. It’s intimidating to talk to strangers. What if they don’t want to buy what you plan on making?

So, don’t be like most entrepreneurs (including me!) and skip this critical step. It can mean the difference between success and failure. Getting this step done early will help you refine your business model and make a clear impact on your future success.

Find out if your market is big enough

Once you have identified your target market and validated it by talking to them in person, you need to do research to figure out if your target market is big enough to sustain your business. If there aren’t enough potential customers to sustain your business and your competitors, then you need to consider changing your product or service offering.

For example, if your target market only has a few thousand potential customers, you either need to sell to them frequently or sell at a fairly high price to create a sustainable, profitable business.

To figure out if your market is big enough, you need to do some research. Use the attributes you defined in the target market step and then figure out how many people meet your demographic, psychographic, or location criteria. I’ve got some links to resources that will help you figure this out at the end of this article.

If you are targeting an existing market with established competitors, you do what’s called industry research. For example, perhaps you are building a new company in the market for sports drinks or the market for cell phones. In cases like this, understanding how much people buy of the currently existing offerings will give you the best sense of potential market size.

In this case, you want to look for industry reports and read trade publications for your industry. These publications often summarize the market size.

Prepare research questions for your market research participants.

The best way to make sure you get the most out of your conversations is to be prepared. You should always create a discussion guide — whether it’s for a focus group, online survey, or a phone interview — to make sure you cover all of the top-of-mind questions and use your time wisely.

(Note: This is not intended to be a script. The discussions should be natural and conversational, so we encourage you to go out of order or probe into certain areas as you see fit.)

Your discussion guide should be in an outline format, with a time allotment and open-ended questions for each section.

Wait, all open-ended questions?

Yes — this is a golden rule of market research. You never want to “lead the witness” by asking yes and no questions, as that puts you at risk of unintentionally swaying their thoughts by leading with your own hypothesis. Asking open-ended questions also helps you avoid one-word answers (which aren’t very helpful for you).

Example Outline of a 30-Minute Survey 

Here’s a general outline for a 30-minute survey for one B2B buyer. You can use these as talking points for an in-person interview, or as questions posed on a digital form to administer as a survey to your target customers.

Background Information (5 Minutes)

Ask the buyer to give you a little background information (their title, how long they’ve been with the company, and so on). Then, ask a fun/easy question to warm things up (first concert attended, favorite restaurant in town, last vacation, etc.).

Remember, you want to get to know your buyers in pretty specific ways. You might be able to capture basic information such as age, location, and job title from your contact list, there are some personal and professional challenges you can really only learn by asking.

Here are some other key background questions to ask your target audience:

  • Describe how your team is structured.
  • Tell me about your personal job responsibilities.
  • What are the team’s goals and how do you measure them?
  • What has been your biggest challenge in the past year?

Now, make a transition to acknowledge the specific purchase or interaction they made that led to you including them in the study. The next three stages of the buyer’s journey will focus specifically on that purchase.

Awareness (5 Minutes)

Here, you want to understand how they first realized they had a problem that needed to be solved without getting into whether or not they knew about your brand yet.

  • Think back to when you first realized you needed a [name the product/service category, but not yours specifically]. What challenges were you facing at the time?
  • How did you know that something in this category could help you?
  • How familiar were you with different options on the market?

Consideration (10 Minutes)

Now you want to get very specific about how and where the buyer researched potential solutions. Plan to interject to ask for more details.

  • What was the first thing you did to research potential solutions? How helpful was this source?
  • Where did you go to find more information?

If they don’t come up organically, ask about search engines, websites visited, people consulted, and so on. Probe, as appropriate, with some of the following questions:

  • How did you find that source?
  • How did you use vendor websites?
  • What words specifically did you search on Google?
  • How helpful was it? How could it be better?
  • Who provided the most (and least) helpful information? What did that look like?
  • Tell me about your experiences with the sales people from each vendor.
Decision (10 Minutes)
  • Which of the sources you described above was the most influential in driving your decision?
  • What, if any, criteria did you establish to compare the alternatives?
  • What vendors made it to the short list and what were the pros/cons of each?
  • Who else was involved in the final decision? What role did each of these people play?
  • What factors ultimately influenced your final purchasing decision?
Closing

Here, you want to wrap up and understand what could have been better for the buyer.

  • Ask them what their ideal buying process would look like. How would it differ from what they experienced?
  • Allow time for further questions on their end.
  • Don’t forget to thank them for their time and confirm their address to send a thank-you note or incentive.

List your primary competitors.

List your primary competitors — keep in mind listing the competition isn’t always as simple as Company X versus Company Y.

Sometimes, a division of a company might compete with your main product or service, even though that company’s brand might put more effort in another area.

For example. Apple is known for its laptops and mobile devices but Apple Music competes with Spotify over its music streaming service.

From a content standpoint, you might compete with a blog, YouTube channel, or similar publication for inbound website visitors — even though their products don’t overlap with yours at all.

And a toothpaste company might compete with magazines like Health.com or Prevention on certain blog topics related to health and hygiene even though the magazines don’t actually sell oral care products.

Identifying Industry Competitors

To identify competitors whose products or services overlap with yours, determine which industry or industries you’re pursuing. Start high-level, using terms like education, construction, media & entertainment, food service, healthcare, retail, financial services, telecommunications, and agriculture.

The list goes on, but find an industry term that you identify with, and use it to create a list of companies that also belong to this industry. You can build your list the following ways:

  • Review your industry quadrant on G2 Crowd: In certain industries, this is your best first step in secondary market research. G2 Crowd aggregates user ratings and social data to create “quadrants,” where you can see companies plotted as contenders, leaders, niche, and high performers in their respective industries. G2 Crowd specializes in digital content, IT services, HR, ecommerce, and related business services.
  • Download a market report: Companies like Forrester and Gartner offer both free and gated market forecasts every year on the vendors who are leading their industry. On Forrester’s website, for example, you can select “Latest Research” from the navigation bar and browse Forrester’s latest material using a variety of criteria to narrow your search. These reports are good assets to save on your computer.
  • Search using social media: Believe it or not, social networks make great company directories if you use the search bar correctly. On LinkedIn, for example, select the search bar and enter the name of the industry you’re pursuing. Then, under “More,” select “Companies” to narrow your results to just the businesses that include this or a similar industry term on their LinkedIn profile.

Identifying Content Competitors

Search engines are your best friends in this area of secondary market research. To find the online publications with which you compete, take the overarching industry term you identified in the section above, and come up with a handful of more specific industry terms your company identifies with.

A catering business, for example, might generally be a “food service” company, but also consider itself a vendor in “event catering,” “cake catering,” “baked goods,” and more.

Once you have this list, do the following:

  • Google it: Don’t underestimate the value in seeing which websites come up when you run a search on Google for the industry terms that describe your company. You might find a mix of product developers, blogs, magazines, and more.
  • Compare your search results against your buyer persona: Remember the buyer persona you created during the primary research stage, earlier in this article? Use it to examine how likely a publication you found through Google could steal website traffic from you. If the content the website publishes seems like the stuff your buyer persona would want to see, it’s a potential competitor, and should be added to your list of competitors.

After a series of similar Google searches for the industry terms you identify with, look for repetition in the website domains that have come up.

Examine the first two or three results pages for each search you conducted. These websites are clearly respected for the content they create in your industry, and should be watched carefully as you build your own library of videos, reports, web pages, and blog posts.

Summarize your findings.

Feeling overwhelmed by the notes you took? We suggest looking for common themes that will help you tell a story and create a list of action items.

To make the process easier, try using your favorite presentation software to make a report, as it will make it easy to add in quotes, diagrams, or call clips.

Feel free to add your own flair, but the following outline should help you craft a clear summary:

  • Background: Your goals and why you conducted this study.
  • Participants: Who you talked to. A table works well so you can break groups down by persona and customer/prospect.
  • Executive Summary: What were the most interesting things you learned? What do you plan to do about it?
  • Awareness: Describe the common triggers that lead someone to enter into an evaluation. (Quotes can be very powerful.)
  • Consideration: Provide the main themes you uncovered, as well as the detailed sources buyers use when conducting their evaluation.
  • Decision: Paint the picture of how a decision is really made by including the people at the center of influence and any product features or information that can make or break a deal.
  • Action Plan: Your analysis probably uncovered a few campaigns you can run to get your brand in front of buyers earlier and/or more effectively. Provide your list of priorities, a timeline, and the impact it will have on your business.

Learn about tools for doing market analysis online

Do you want to learn how to do market research online and what it looks like in practice? Here are some useful tools that can be applied to effectively conduct your analysis:

This is a simple tool to collect, measure, analyze, and provide data on behavioral patterns, websites, and mobile user engagement statistics. It offers lots of insights about your competition for free plus more detailed information in return for paying a subscription fee.  

This powerful tool offers marketers lots of valuable data, such as related search terms, keyword suggestions, keyword trend data, and more.

These are amazing tools that provide plenty of traffic estimation data and comprehensive insights. They are user-friendly, have great graphic representation, and yield details about the competition.

This is a powerful analytical tool that will help connect your product directly to your customers. Its main purpose is to allow advertisers to efficiently target their advertisements. The tool can also help you study the target audience. Information can be obtained from two sources — Facebook data and third-party services.

Statista is a German portal for statistics, which provides a range of statistics and facts about the global market research industry and is available in several languages.

  • Google search tips

To effectively use Google, apply quotes when looking for an exact word or phrase. To research a specific website, use a keyword and put the domain name after the colon. Google Trends is another great way to find out what’s trending in Google searches at the moment. Google images can help you find reports on market research and other helpful graphics.

  • Surveys and polls in social media

Social, consumer, or market trends can be studied through social media platforms. Social media are useful tools for marketing insights and getting an immediate response from clients. To ask consumers about potential improvements to your product, launching just one poll can be enough.

There are a bunch of different methods, tools, and tricks, which you can employ to get business insights. It all depends on the purposes for conducting market research, time, and the financial resources you have available.

Ask the rights questions

We’ve tested lots of approaches and have come up with a solid set of the questions you need to ask for market analysis. The received answers will be fundamental to creating a business plan and making further decisions:

  • How big is my potential market/markets?
  • Can this market potentially grow?
  • What is the nature of the products/services similar to mine?
  • My main competitors?
  • What is the market share of each of my competitors?
  • Is there a niche that I can fill?
  • What is my unique competitive advantage? What will make me number one in the market?

Conclusion

Whether you work in a small business or for a new startup company, the importance of market research cannot be overstated. Although many critics suggest that making assumptions can be helpful when it comes to implementing ideas, there is no place for assumptions in the world of businesses. No one wants to spend time and money on an idea that has little or no chance of success.

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