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3 simple market research activities for a small business

Market research is an essential activity to help a small businesses understand their target audience, competition, and industry trends. And it’s a moving target as tastes change, customer expectations evolve, and markets shift.

Get your ducks in a row with these 3 simple yet effective market research activities for small businesses.

3 simple market research activities

1. Customer surveys

Your existing customers are a mine of information, and they already like you. So find out exactly what they think of you.

Conducting customer surveys is a really cost-effective way to gather valuable insights directly from your known target audience. Create a simple questionnaire that covers essential aspects such as customer preferences, satisfaction levels, and expectations.

You can collect survey information through one of the many online survey tools available, embed a survey on your website, or use your social channels. Poll your customers online or distribute printed surveys in-store, depending on your business type.

To maximise survey participation, keep the questions concise and relevant. No one wants to fill in a 50 page questionnaire, but 3-5 easy questions are more likely to get you a response.

If you want more detailed information, incentivising participation with a discount or small giveaway can encourage customers to share their opinions.

Ask about their favourite products or services, reasons for choosing your business, and areas where you can improve. You might be surprised and inspired by what they say.

Finally, analyse your survey responses to identify patterns and trends and take action. Customer survey data can guide product/service enhancements, marketing strategies, and customer retention efforts.

2. Competitor Analysis

Understanding your competitors is vital for positioning your small business effectively in the market.

The first step is to identify key competitors in your industry or local area. Visit their websites, social media pages, and physical locations if they have one.

Take some time to analyse their products or services, pricing strategies, and customer reviews. Creating a simple spreadsheet will help you compare key elements such as product features, pricing, and customer feedback. From there, you can identify gaps in the market or areas where your business can differentiate itself.

It’s not just about what your competitors are doing better than you (they’re probably not anyway). You should also take note of any weaknesses. What can you learn from your competitors’ mistakes that your business can use to gain a competitive advantage?

This analysis will inform your business strategy, helping you highlight your unique selling point and set competitive prices. It also enables you to learn from your competitors’ successes and mistakes.

3. Social Media Listening

Use the power of social media to gain real-time insights into customer sentiments, industry trends, and competitors.

You’ll get a good sense of what’s going on with your customers by simply interacting on your own social media channels. But it’s also worth setting up social media monitoring tools to systematically track mentions of your business, industry-related keywords, and competitors.

Platforms like Hootsuite, Mention, or Google Alerts (our freebie favourite!) can help automate this process. Monitor comments, reviews, and discussions on social media platforms to understand customer opinions and identify emerging trends.

Pay attention to what people are saying about your competitors, as this can reveal areas for improvement or innovation.

It sounds obvious, but don’t forget to engage with your audience on social media by responding to comments and addressing concerns. This simple act builds a positive brand image and also provides an opportunity to gather direct feedback. By staying active on social media and monitoring conversations, your small business can adapt quickly to changing market dynamics and consumer preferences.

Get help with market research for your business

These three market research activities – customer surveys, competitor analysis, and social media listening – will provide your small businesses with valuable insights to make informed decisions, refine your strategies, and stay competitive in your market.

But market research does take a good chunk of time and, like many business owners, you have a lot of conflicting priorities. So why not get some help?

If you’re pushed for time and want some assistance, we can help kick-start your market research and marketing strategy. Why wait, book in for a free, no-obligation discovery call today.