Market research is a broader look at business environments and can be used to help define your target market. In one example from the previous chapter we looked at a baker who determined that her target market was wedding cakes. Market research for this baker would then involve determining things like how many weddings take place every year within a certain distance from her bakery and how many other bakers are operating in her geographic location. That information will help her determine the potential size and members of her target market.
Marketing research however will help her further understand the consumers within the target market. This function within companies is sometimes called "consumer insights" Marketing research is crucial to business success because in many cases you (the marketer) are not your consumer. It is important to understand what the potential customers of your product or service need and want so that you can best meet those desires. In the case of blogging or certain types of small businesses, however, you will attract readers or customers precisely because you are like your consumers. If you are blogging about the ups and downs of parenting small children you are likely going to appeal to readers who are also parents of small children. If you design a gorgeous fitted dress that flatters women with curves and uses affordable fabrics and unique nature-inspired embellishments because you can't find what you want to wear in stores, chances are that the potential customers for your line of dresses are women who are very much like you. However, you can still learn a great deal about how to better serve your consumers by doing some research which can be inexpensive or free.
Types of ResearchQuantitative Research
Quantitative research collects measurable data. Surveys are a prime example of a research tool often used for collecting quantitative data. Use of questions that give a limited set of options for answering generally result in sets of numbers that can be then further analyzed and used to reach specific conclusions or to make findings that can be extrapolated out to larger populations.
Qualitative research results in data that requires interpretation and non-mathematical analysis. As compared to quantitative research which seeks to validate hypotheses, qualitative research can be used to explore ideas through techniques such as asking open-ended questions and observing behavior. Focus Groups are a common method of qualitative marketing research. Ethnography (derived from cultural anthropology) is a growing qualitative method used in marketing research.
Focus Group image by WhyOhGee from Flickr used under Creative Commons license.
SourcesPrimary research is simply research you do or sponsor
yourself and secondary research which already exists and uses data
collected by other researchers not specifically for your business.
conduct some primary research for your blog or business or find a
source of secondary research and gather some data.
If you are seeking advertisers, sponsors, promotions or giveaways for your blog it will be helpful for you to know a bit about who your readers are. This information can also help you create better blog posts based on what your readers are most interested in.
For your blog you can use a built in stats program or install one like Google Analytics to gather data like which blog topics garner the most viewers, where do your readers arrive from, how long do visitors stay at your blog. You can also conduct a reader survey using tools like Survey Monkey or Zoomerang to ask a few simple questions such as what subjects they most enjoy on your blog, how they found you, what time of day they usually read you or basic demographic information like age, gender, age ranges of any children, and so on.
To find secondary research you can check the Census Bureau for U.S. information or try About.com: Small Business: Canada for resources. Or hit your local library or SBA office to find data about your industry or topic.