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10 ways to make market research fun

Market research is an essential starting point and ongoing process for every business, but there are many misconceptions about what it actually is.

Market research is not a dirty word. It’s not annoyingly standing on street corners with a clipboard – it’s about asking questions, challenging your assumptions and opening up communication channels between your business and your market.

It’s a reason to get out more and be inspired, it’s an excuse for a party, a reason to eat cake. And it’s a great way to expand your network.

Starting a business is risky. There is so much to plan and consider and so many ways that it could go wrong, especially if you go in blind.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of having an idea and then wondering how to market it without knowing your market first.

Without research how can you develop your ideas? How do you know what to charge for your product or service? And without knowing the true value of your product or service, how can you know if your business idea is even feasible?

If you’re unclear on who your customers and competitors really are, not who you assume they are, it’s impossible to do any meaningful marketing. You will be ‘spraying and praying’, relying on luck and doing nothing to make your own luck.

Providing a product or service is about solving someone’s problems. The best way to find out what people need, desire, want and aspire to is to ask them. That’s what market research is. It’s about talking to people. The more ways you can find to do this the better.

And because it’s your business, you get to choose and you make your own rules. So why make it tedious or boring? Market research can be fun.

10 market research ideas to get you started

  1. Put on a focus group in a local cafe. Think beforehand about what you want to find out from people and who the likely customers might be, then extend an open invitation and reward your participants with cake – who doesn’t like free cake in exchange for answering some questions in an informal and relaxed environment?
  2. Arrange a meet up at a local bar and network over a glass of wine.
  3. Take a short course in something you’ve always been interested in, even if it’s not relevant to your business, and mix with like-minded people, e.g. a pottery class, life drawing, etc.
  4. Volunteer for a charity you’re really passionate about and pick up new skills and contacts as well as getting a reputation for being lovely – who doesn’t want to help out a lovely person?
  5. Put on a fundraising event for a charity you care about – your business could be effectively ‘sponsoring it’? Use the event and the positive press to showcase your ideas and get feedback.
  6. Have a launch event or mark an occasion with a party, eg. a one year event. Invite everyone who’s ever engaged with your business as a thank you. Wine and dine them and they’ll be happy to answer a few questions or help you out in the future.
  7. Host a competition or quiz. You could make it a regular event? It’s great for connecting people.
  8. Gather some friends and go to a festival or fair. Talk to any relevant stall-holders and get involved with activities.
  9. Join a club. Have you got a hobby? E.g. photography, Salsa dancing, running, etc. Joining a club is a great way to meet people and share ideas and expertise.
  10. Go with a friend on a day trip to another city. Make it a fun day out but while you’re there make some observations, take notes, pick up leaflets and local magazines. Are there any opportunities to grow and collaborate? Is someone doing something elsewhere that could work locally?

We work for ourselves because we want to do something we’re passionate about.

Market research is part of your business, and it’s an ongoing process that you need to build into your working week to stand a chance of keeping up with an ever-changing market.

And why not make it fun?

What would you enjoy doing to make connections and meet people?

It’s your business, you are in control. Go and do what you love!

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