Market research is one of the most important parts of any startup strategy. Conducting a proper market research gives you a better understanding of how you should proceed with your product or service. By definition, it is researching features that are unique to a specific niche, followed by a deep analysis of those features. It’s all collecting about valuable data that helps you understand who your customers are, determine your pricing strategy, and know how to outrun competitors.

Whether you already have experience in market research or have never done it before, this article will guide you through the process from start to finish.

Types of market research

There are two main types of marketing research – primary and secondary. The objective of a primary research is to collect feedback directly from your potential customers. It can’t be done by analyzing existing data and is usually performed by conducting interviews, surveys, and questionnaires.

Secondary research is analyzing existing data that is specific to your industry. The sources might include various reports or studies and will help you identify your competitors, define target segments, and set benchmarks.

Key stages in market research

  1. Define your customer persona
  2. Target a group of people for research
  3. Prepare interview questions
  4. Identify your primary competitors
  5. Make conclusions

The first three stages fall under a category of primary research, while the last two are related to secondary research. Now let’s take a closer look at these steps.

1. Define your customer persona

Knowing your demographics is only one part of creating your customer persona. Age, gender, profession, location, income are some of the key characteristics. However, in order to get more specific insights, you must learn their main goals, challenges, and pain points.

Note, that it’s okay to have more than one customer persona – there’s no set number that will work for all businesses. If your company targets more than one industry, you should definitely consider creating multiple customer personas.

2. Recruit research participants

After identifying your buyer personas, you’ll need to collect feedback from your potential customers. This could be done through a phone call, in-person interviews or online surveys. Find up to 10 people per customer persona to interview. These could be people who recently interacted with your business and have gone through your entire sales cycle.

As mentioned above, the easiest group of participants to recruit are customers that made a purchase recently. You can get this information from your CRM if you’re using one or work with your sales team. If you are using CRM, you could also look for visitors who showed interest in your product/service but didn’t make a purchase.

You can also recruit participants on social media by leveraging your own network. Spread the word among your coworkers, friends, and Linkedin connections.

3. Conduct interviews

The conversations you’ll have with your research participants are the key to a successful market research, and it’s important to come prepared. Create a guide for every discussion to make sure you cover everything and don’t waste any time. Please, note, the conversation should be natural and not scripted.

Here are some examples of the information you want to get or questions you might ask:

  • Background information (What’s your job title, responsibilities, goals, challenges, etc.?)
  • Pain points (How did you find out you had a problem to solve? What options have you already considered?)
  • Specific information about solutions they have already considered (Where did you look for potential solutions? What specific words did you use for Google search? How helpful was the found information?)
  • What could influence their decision-making process (What criteria did you use to compare the solutions? Who was responsible for making the decision? What other factors have influenced your decision?)
  • Wrap up (How would the ideal buying process look like? Ask if they have any questions on their end.)

4. Identify your primary competitors

First, determine what industries you’re pursuing. Then try narrowing that down to a specific product/service you’re offering and look for companies that belong to that niche. Some companies make public market reports, so you can search for recent studies online. Also, you can use social media such as Linkedin.

Once you have completed the list, analyze what your competitors are doing and how their services/products are similar or different from yours. Examine their websites, content, social media, blog posts.

5. Make conclusions

Now that you have gathered the key data, it’s time to summarize what you have found. The number of notes you’ve made may seem overwhelming, but once you organize them, it’s much easier to make conclusions.

When creating a report, feel free to use diagrams, pictures, quotes, anything that can visualize your findings. Your report should include information about the goals of this study, participants, interview/survey summary, an action plan.