How micro-businesses can create and use market research surveys
Surveys can be a quick and easy way for a micro-business to obtain information on what customers think of it. You could, for example, find out whether customers would prefer your micro-business product in orange or yellow but without the time and expense of producing both and waiting for subsequent sales.
Types of surveys
Online, mail or telephone are the main ones likely to be used by a micro-business, unless you commission a market research agency for what is known as field or primary research, which is the market research you are most likely to be familiar with. It’s what happens when you are stopped in the street by someone with a clipboard, although you are equally likely to see an online survey on websites that you visit.
The main benefit of surveys is that they allow you to find out the views of a large number of individuals quickly. The more individuals who respond and complete the survey, the more you can rely on the results.
For telephone and mail surveys you need to factor in the time and costs of contacting the people on your list, but an online survey can be set up the same day as you decide to do it.
Pop-up boxes can be used to invite visitors to your web site or Facebook page to take part in the survey. Alternatively, you could email your customer database with a link asking them to compete the survey, or include it as part of a regular newsletter. (Read Bulk Email Despatch Systems if you want to know more about emailing large groups of customers)
The disadvantage of online surveys is that only those using the internet will take part. However, many businesses don’t actually use the internet often, such as builders, plumbers, electricians etc. Car garages and workshops are also unlikely to be spending long periods on a computer.
Making surveys a success
The secret to a successful survey lies in question design. Each respondent needs to be asked exactly the same clear, unambiguous questions or the results will be inaccurate and misleading. Also, try to avoid questions which are leading or ambiguous. For example, questions which contain ‘and’ normally need to be broken down into two separate questions. Asking people to rank or score different statements is useful for providing a comparison or to assess the depth of feeling about something.
A great way to assess whether customers think you are getting better or worse is to repeat the questions after a period of time, e.g. a month, quarterly or annually. If you use exactly the same questions, you can track how each element is changing.
Your own country or state us likely to have laws covering market research. In the UK for example, it is illegal to attempt to sell or generate leads under the guise of market research – it’s called sugging. The MRS has more details on how to stay legal (and provides best practises) for research conducted in the UK, with ESOMAR providing the details on a European and worldwide basis.
There are other types of research which may also be useful for you. For example, in-depth research is a great way to find out why people feel a certain way and is covered in In-depth Research.