Informal Market Research

Market research doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. You can find out lots, just by striking up conversations with or calling the appropriate people.

If you really want market intelligence, first do some planning:

  1. What do you want to know?  Do you want to know what your customer thinks, do you want to know what the market conditions are or do you want to know what your competition is up to, etc?
  2. Who is available to talk with?  Can you call a supplier that also supplies your competition, can you talk with your customer who also uses your competition or can you ask some other entity like a bank or some random business person about how she/he perceives the general business conditions.
  3. What questions will get the answers you need?  What lead-in questions will you use to get the person talking?  What follow-up questions can you ask?  I often just ask people; How’s business?  It’s amazing how much information that person divulges.

You should invest the effort to form a relationship with the person you are asking questions of.  They could become a long term source of valuable information for the future.  You shouldn’t be too aggressive with the questions, just let the person talk and ask occasional questions.  Don’t forget to reciprocate and give the person some valuable information back.

It’s important to continually monitor your business, market, customer and competition by talking with the right people and listening closely to what they say.


About emkohl
Project Management and Business Improvement Consulting

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