“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.” ~ Thomas Berger
As human beings, we tend to see things, well, as we see things. But, what your potential customers, existing customers and employees think of your company will open your eyes.
That eye-opening knowledge can make you proud, or can make you cringe. No matter the feelings this insight evokes, it’s what you do with the information that makes all the difference between moving forward, marching in place, or even losing ground.
Make Research a Component of Your Marketing Plan
Every company can benefit from market research. Quantitative and qualitative research should be a regular part of your marketing plan, and making sure your budget has money for research is essential.
Why is market research important? Simply put, you’re not a mind reader. You can’t tell what people think until you ask. Remember one thing; ask no matter how painful you fear the answers will be.
Until you inquire, you don’t know how you can respond to your employees’ and customers’ needs, how to improve their experience with your company and how to develop your products and services going forward. As important, until you ask, you won’t know what you’re doing right so that you can keep doing it!
There are many ways companies conduct market research. Most often, it is a combination of surveys and face-to-face feedback that allows for a complete view of what people are thinking.
Surveys and Focus Groups
Surveys conducted in person, over the phone and online are all options to gather quantitative data. The information you hope to extrapolate from a survey will dictate which tool is best. Investing in a professional to create your questions will ensure objective results.
There are a number of free online survey tools available (Survey Monkey, Google Forms, Zoho Survey, Typeform, Survey Planet) and they are easy to use. The key to getting good results from surveys, however, is making sure they are designed to give you valuable data and feedback.
Qualitative research – focus groups – gives you the opportunity to dig deeper than responses to a survey. You have the opportunity to ask more than the question and to understand why respondents answer the way they do and what they mean by their answers. This research offers the most insight into the thoughts of your customers. This research is more costly than surveying, but some argue it gives the best data. Again, a professional leading this research is essential to getting the best information.
Bottom line, guessing at what people are thinking is not a good business strategy. If you want your business to succeed, be open to the feedback your customers, your employees and your potential customers have to offer and then act on that feedback.