How to Conduct Free Market Research for Your Business

‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’
– Steve Jobs on market research

In my former life as a market researcher, I’ll be the first to admit: I don’t believe that small companies should adopt the same approach to market research as big companies. After all, who cares about regression models, brand trackers, psychographic profiling or if your target market listens to Backstreet boys every Wednesday when it doesn’t demonstrate a clear link to sales?

But, what if I were to share a free idea that you could implement in your business right away that not only helps you to understand more about your customers, but it can also immediately increase sales?

Before I launch right into my article, let me state that this method works only with surveys.

Firstly, let’s decide on what is the objective of your market research.

(in my article titled “Market research ideas for small businesses, I talked about how you can gather information for free or at a low cost.)

1. Finding out more about your customer- be it their demography, psychography, media consumption habits, segments within the market etc.

2. Purchasing decisions: who is the decision maker? Is it the wife, purchasing manager or the informal leader?

3. Customer satisfaction: there’s still some controversy if customer satisfaction should be the core focus of any business, but as an SME owner can you leave it to chance and not know how satisfied your customers are? After all, research has shown that if switching costs are low, customer satisfaction has a direct impact on repeat purchases and word-of-mouth

4. Brand Equity: how do customers view your brand vis-à-vis your competitors?

And the list goes on.

After you’ve decided on your objective, decide on where you intend to put the survey, and how you intend to incentivise respondents to fill in the survey. The common industry practice of incentivising respondents is by offering a lucky draw with a free “The New iPad” (iPad 3) as a prize. That way, you are able to attract a large quantity of responses at a low cost per customer.

At the end of the survey, put in a question that requests for their permission to have their personal particulars as part of your email database. Asking for their permission is essential as Singapore has strict anti-spam laws and it helps to protect the reputation of your company, as well as the legal liabilities of your company.

Over here at The Profits Academy, we help small companies to unlock the power of currently unrealised assets that every small business are not aware of, and building a customer database is one of them. This is powerful as research has shown that customers who have once purchased from you are more likely to re-purchase from you, especially if they are satisfied with what you have to offer.

You could even take things one step further by introducing a referral scheme, where customers who successfully refer others to you increase their chances of winning the prize. I have personally witnessed friends volunteering their entire email list in order to win the new iPad.

Imagine the potentials of this tip and what it has to offer for your business. Let’s say that you are an F&B owner, and you have only two periods to maximise sales: lunch and dinner.

You could then possibly create promotions of a drink, main meal and possibly a dessert and blast it out at 11am- the time when people are starting to get hungry.

Most F&B owners reading this article will think: I am already currently introducing set promotions in my menu. How does this benefit me?

For starters (pun intended), sending out an email before lunch will enhance top-of-the mind recall. Imagine hordes of office workers gathered in many small, informal lunch groups discussing on where to go for lunch. Someone mentions your name, and the whole group heads over to your outlet for a delicious wanton mee set! Also, for outlets that are filled to the brim during lunch, it helps people to decide before arriving what they want to order, thus maximising the number of customers you can serve by decreasing the time a customer lingers in your outlet.

Or why not create new demand and come up with a tea promotion set for a mid-day snack as some people do get hungry then. Don’t forget to paste a mouthwatering picture of your products to help stir up those cravings!