Forbes Coaches Council

Market Research Studies: Three Tips For Doing Them Right

Market research is a valuable tool in the arsenal of any businessperson. It’s an excellent way to learn more about your industry, discover things you hadn’t considered about your own business, dive into current trends and get an idea of what the future might hold.

Your company might be interested in conducting market research studies for any number of reasons. You might want to be considered a thought leader or influencer in your field. A comprehensive market research study on your industry can help position you as one.

You might hope to find some interesting insights that can lead to media buzz and attention for your company. You might be curious about your industry and hope a market research study gives you and your team a sense of where the field is heading, so you can be on the lookout for possible threats or opportunities.

It might be a combination of all those reasons.

There is almost no bad reason to do a market research study, but you can certainly do one poorly. As someone who has extensive experience in compiling market research studies, I have some suggestions to help people do things the right way and ensure the get the most from their market research.

Make sure you team up with the right market research company.

There are plenty of market research companies around the world. Some estimates say that it’s a $76 billion market. These companies often specialize in a certain field, such as health care, entertainment, finance or technology. As you can imagine, it can cost thousands of dollars to hire a company to do market research, depending on what you’re asking.

You might want consumers surveyed. You might be interested in focus groups. You might be looking for analysts to crunch a lot of data.

The point is that hiring a market research company is like hiring a contractor, an attorney or anybody else. You want to do your due diligence and vet the company, especially if it isn’t well-known. You also want to ask a lot of questions to make sure you’re on the same page.

You also probably don’t want to do this in-house. There’s nothing wrong with doing your own market research. However, if you go to a third party, you’re going to likely get a different perspective than what you would get from your own team. There’s also a greater chance that the perspective you receive is an unbiased one, which is healthy.

Know which direction you want to go in.

You don’t want preconceived notions of what your market research company is going to learn. At the very least, you should be open to the idea that your assumptions are wrong.

That said, you don’t want to go in the opposite direction and be too vague about what you hope to achieve. At that point, you’d essentially be telling a market research company that you’re interested in anything and everything about the state of your industry.

You want to point a direction for the market research company to investigate. If, for instance, you wanted to know more about the restaurant industry and where it was heading, you might tell the company to focus on millennials — or on baby boomers, if you’re more interested in older diners. You might suggest that your market research company tell you what the restaurant industry will look like in 20 years — or maybe you just want to know about the next five years.

The point is, there is a ton of information out there, even if you think there isn’t, and having a clear direction that you can point market researchers toward will help you and the company you’re working with be laser-focused on where to put everybody’s research efforts.

Have an end goal in mind.

As noted, there are a lot of good reasons to conduct market research studies, but you need to know what you’re going to do with your information once you have it. Do you plan to write up a report or a white paper? If so, who do you plan to write it? Maybe you’d like to use your research as proprietary information for your business and your clients. If you do plan on using the data internally, how do you plan on using it?

Of course, you can’t plan every step. There’s a chance that your research will present an unexpected curveball, and you’ll need to change your strategy. The more prepared you are to analyze data and put it to good use, the faster and more effectively you can do it.

You will also want to be careful that you don’t treat your research as gospel. If you come up with anything that seems groundbreaking and revolutionary, depending on how thorough the company was that you used, you might want to do additional research to confirm your findings.

Once you feel that you have the information you need, you want to be ready to use it as efficiently as you can. You don’t want your market analysis and reporting to sit on a shelf for days or weeks, getting old and stale while you try to figure out what to do with your findings. After all, the world moves fast. You should already know that without having to do any research.