Don’t Hike Without a Map: Marketing Research

There are countless stories of weary rescuers who’ve come to the aid  of the guileless hiker who set out for a hike without a map. Inevitably, they’ve set off with the idea that they can follow the markings on the trail, or that they know the way well enough. Many times they are mistaken, and forced to live through harrowing survival stories until their rescuers arrive.

In business, there are no rescuers. If you don’t have a map, you will get lost, and it will be up to you to find the trail. So one way or the other, you will end up doing the market research (your map) that you tried to avoid in the first place.

Why do so many people try and avoid this essential first step in building a business? I can think of a few reasons, not knowing how to go about conducting market research, not wanting to allocate the resources or time to it, and not least of all- being worried about what their research will uncover.

Every entrepreneur has an emotional attachment to their business, this is as natural as a mother loving her child. So when the big bad data wolf comes knocking with information that could throw a curve ball at the well-groomed business concept, an entrepreneur’s instinct will tell them to protect their baby.

We can take a lesson from the natural world here, and note that as kids grow they develop, i.e, change, over time. This is a good thing, they learn independence and individuality.

Before using up resources precious to any small business owner to build what will likely fail, take the time to do the research. Find out who your target market is, and what that market will bear.

So how do we do this?  First, figure out what your PVP is for your assumed target market. Then get to know that market really well. Like, I know your most embarrassing moment, well.

The research should begin by quantifying the market. How many individuals (people or organizations) exist in this market?  What is the amount of money available/ budgeted to spend on your goods or services within this market?

There are resources that can help you find that information, from business directories, to government and economic data websites, and even going to your neighborhood librarian.

Once you’ve been able to quantify your market, you will have a better idea as to how feasible your business concept really is.

Then, using your business concept as a starting ground, start digging for information from that market. User or focus groups, surveys, and reading market research papers are all ways that you can find out more information.

Be sure to step outside your circle. You don’t want your map to only lead in a one mile radius of your home! Get out and speak to as many people as you can that comprise your target market.

With the quantification and qualification of your market, you should be able to refine your business concept and with it, your road map, so that you have a clear direction for your business.




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