If you’re looking into producing a product or service, your first step is usually to conduct market research. No matter how good your product is, it’s not going to sell if it doesn’t meet a need or serve a purpose that is useful to your customers. While you can hire someone to do the research for you, most people can’t afford the thousands of dollars it will cost. Here are five ways to do your own research on an affordable scale.

1. Customer Polling

The easiest way to conduct market research is to poll your current customers. If you publish an ezine or newsletter, include a short survey with it that the reader has the option of returning. If you have web pages, add a survey question or two to the top of some or all of the pages that the reader has the option of filling out.

This is a great way to get useful information on future product releases or improvements for current products from your most likely users. The problem is actually getting them to respond. Surveys should very short, or include some sort of small incentive to respond. This will help increase response to help you get more data.

2. Attend Events

Seminars and other events are a great way to learn the latest market research. Even if the seminars are not specifically about this, the people attending them have done or know the research and many of them are already successful at what they’re doing (and what you want to do). Pick the parts of the seminar that you think will be most beneficial to you, then spend the rest chatting and networking with presenters and other attendees.

3. Focus Groups

Focus groups are a tool researchers have been using for a long time. These are small groups of people brought together to talk about and come up with specific ideas. If you’re working on a topic, you can get together a small group of people who are willing to answer and discuss questions in a group setting. You can do this by actually getting them together, or by getting everyone on a conference call or in an online chat room.

4. Published Data

If you’re looking for a reputable source for market resource, researching published data is the way to go. Take a trip to your local library. While their books are likely outdated, they often have subscriptions to magazines, journals, and journal databases. This way, instead of doing the research yourself, you can simply find the results of someone else’s work. Plus, to make it into these journals, the research must be validated and peer approved.

5. Random Surveys

You can use your local telephone book to conduct surveys in your area. If you are looking into a larger market, use online telephone books to expand your survey. You can pull numbers randomly for general opinions, or narrow down people polled by looking only at small restaurant owners or something else your product would be marketed to. Just realize that this method will take you a lot of time and a lot of calling.

Five Ways to Conduct Market Research
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