5 Competitive Market Research Tips to Help You Stay Ahead of the Competition
Market research is key
Earlier this year I spent 2 days at OpenView Venture Partners Market Segmentation Forum where Luke Hohmann discussed a very specific process towards excellent market segmentation. Since the event I have been working on a detailed market segmentation project which has included a substantial amount of competitive market research.
Many small businesses avoid this type of market research because they don’t know where to start, but I’m here to tell you that you can (and should) do it. If you don’t know where to start, you are in the perfect position to begin. All I can tell you is that you should dive right in because once you do, you’ll be glad you did. To help you get started, I have assembled 5 tips from my work over the past 2 months.
- Have a goal
Before you begin your research, define one or more goals. Your goals will define the path you take with your market research. Beginning competitive market research without a goal will waste your time
- Have a hypothesis
You’ll likely already have some ideas as to the nature of the market you are researching- this is your hypothesis. Your market research should attempt to confirm or nullify this hypothesis. When you nullify your hypothesis, form a new one and continue. I guarantee this will happen at least once during your research.
- Be open-minded
Let your research guide you, not the other way around. Be open-minded and learn about the market. Instead of trying to confirm your hypothesis, you should try to nullify your hypothesis. If all you do is confirm your original hypothesis, you haven’t learned anything new about your market (which may be acceptable in some cases).
- Use measurable data
Your research should be based on measurable data points instead of anecdotal notes and opinions. You must approach competitive market research from an analytical perspective. You want to learn about key competitors, relative market share, product price points, etc. If all you have is opinionated statements, you haven’t gone far enough in your research.
- Document your results
A very important part of conducting market research is to document your findings. I, of course, used a Central Desktop workspace to organize and document my research from the very beginning. I have many wiki pages and online spreadsheets that I have used throughout the process.
A question I kept asking myself when I began this project is, “How do I know when I am done?” and after beginning my research, I have learned that market research is never “done.” You may have a hypothesis that you can’t nullify, but that could all change with a new market competitor next week.
One of the most awesome things about conducting this type of market research is the feeling that all your research has led you to a hypothesis that you can’t nullify. The process has been very rewarding and nothing like I would have ever expected. If you have ever done formal market research or segmentation, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
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