Market Research on a Budget

Keeping your business on track has a range of challenges. Some of these challenges include knowing who your customers are and how many potential customers you have. Figuring out how to reach your customers and who you compete with, are probably the first things you need to work out. But how do you get it all done, without investing all your capital in research?


Market research ranges from questionnaires to focus groups, structured interviews to competitive intelligence plus a whole lot more. Small businesses want to avoid costly and complicated research models that won’t have much impact on the day-to-day profitability of the business. When you already have your hands full with the core business that you choose to focus on, the last thing you want is to waste your resources. Yet at the same time, you don’t want to be leaving money on the table because you haven’t met your customer’s expectations.

Why do Market Research?

  • Market research helps you define your value proposition and brand.
  • It helps you create compelling and relevant marketing materials.
  • You can define your audience and your customers which will help you focus your marketing.
  • New products or services can be identified from the information supplied by your customers.
  • You can improve your positioning in the market.
  • You can monitor trends and pain points for your customers.

How to do Market Research on a Budget

  • Before you begin, be clear about what you want to test and research. Focus your questions and data gathering on what is most important for you to know and what will be useful and helpful.
  • Primary research: Start with the data you already have about your customers and target audience. This could include your sales history, your CRM or other resources you have inside your own business. It is therefore important that you always capture all information from your clients such as complaints, frequently asked questions and suggestions.
  • Secondary research: You can get some useful global or national statistics easily from government statistics services or other online sources. Note that these are best used in conjunction with primary research.
  • Customer feedback - there is a range of options to capture customer feedback such as your CRM, social media, surveys and comments on your website.
  • Use technology to help you do your research - there are a myriad of tools, some of them even free, to help you gather your information. Some of these include:
    1. Text analytics
    2. Google tools
    3. Social media insights
    4. Mailing programs insights
    5. Third-party sites such as Quora and Reddit
    6. Automated competitor monitoring with Google Alerts for keywords and competitor brand names
    7. Research programs and websites that provide tools for you to plug in your information and get the answers you require

When to do Market Research

  • Before you start - new start-ups should definitely make informed decisions based on facts to provide clarity on the viability and profitability of a business.
  • Follow-up - once the business has launched you should conduct market research to tell you how to develop and improve your business. This could inform your pricing structure, sales promotions, delivery and presentation decisions.
  • New product introductions - each time a new product is introduced, it should be preceded by market research into customer behaviour, wants and needs. This will allow you to do cost projections and better understand what products are likely to succeed.
  • Continual research - a lot of businesses keep track of statistics on a monthly or quarterly basis to inform decision-making. This can be done through the technology tools we’ve mentioned and does not need to be expensive or time-consuming.

Knowledge through conducted market research is very important, but need not be expensive or time-consuming. Using the information you already have at your disposal and a clever combination of the tools at your disposal, you can easily get all the information you need. While it is tempting to skip the research and get on with the work, it might be costly in the long run. It never pays to be going full speed in the wrong direction. Market research is your map and compass to start you in the correct direction. Don’t put it off, now that you know how, it is easier than you think!

Still unsure about where to start? Contact DMM to help you plan and execute your market research.

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