Women In Business

The importance of research analysis for the success of a business

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If you’re operating under the assumption that market research is unnecessary for the longevity of your business, then clear your schedule for the next five minutes and read this article. Despite the overwhelming evidence that research and the data it produces is vital for success, many businesses are still missing out.

If you’re unsure that the energy and time invested in research is worthwhile, it’s almost certain that those resources are being used in less ideal ways. Instead of proactively equipping yourself, your organization is likely responding in a reactionary manner to holes in your products and service offerings. Why wait to see how you meet the needs of your target audience and then adjust accordingly when you can invest that effort in recognizing their expectations and priorities immediately?

Does market research really matter?

There are two reasons why a business may not see the value in research analysis. The first is they don’t understand it, and the second is they believe it’s an overrated investment. Both of those things can and should be remedied.

What is market research?

Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, defining what exactly research analysis refers to is an important place to begin. Market research is collecting information about what your target audience wants and needs.

Analysis occurs when you identify what problems need to be solved, and then you progress to the phase wherein you’re actually forming a plan to respond to that problem. It’s important to note that a problem can refer to any question that the company has relating to how they can perform better within their industry.

According to the business experts at Arizona State University, “Working closely with creative, advertising, sales and executive leadership, market research analysts are responsible for managing detailed information on an organization’s industry, competitors, consumers and products. They use data analytics to answer questions about consumer behavior and product preferences as well as recommend solutions to increase sales and customer satisfaction.”

The point is that every possible roadblock to success is seen long before it becomes a reality and is dealt with appropriately so that it does not prohibit a company’s ability to be relevant and competitive.

As Dionna McPhatter, an expert in all things research analysis, told Entrepreneur, “Often, new entrepreneurs adopt the ‘if you build it they will come’ mentality, assuming innovation alone is enough to grow a business. I encourage entrepreneurs to see data as a GPS. A GPS helps only when you’re navigating streets you haven’t been on. In the same way, research should actually uncover things you don’t know to help you get where you’re going, faster.”

We’ve all heard the daunting numbers on how many small businesses fail to last beyond 18 months. But one way to aggressively combat that on a practical level is to apply market research analysis. You must always be planning for the future, and as McPhatter illustrates, market research analysis is one of the best ways to get there.

What research analysis looks like

Hopefully if we weren’t before, we’re now on the same page in terms of market research, and you’re ready to take the steps necessary to make it a pillar of your business’ strategy and plan.

The first thing you have to do is decide what information matters to your organization most. It’s unlikely you have the resources to find every answer. However, begin by making discerning choices about what information would most benefit your company so that you get the most bang for your buck.

When you’re ready to research you have two available methods of collecting worthwhile data:

Primary research

Primary research refers to that which is taken directly from customers. Online surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups are examples of primary research. Primary research is the best way to get specific, hyper-relevant information straight from the most important source.

With primary research, you have the ability to explicitly ask the questions you need answered. When using this method, make sure the questions asked of participants get to the root of their needs and preferences. Examples include:

  • How can the industry improve upon existing products?
  • What components matter when making buying decisions?
  • What price range do you feel is appropriate?

Additionally, primary research includes gathering and interpreting the behavior of customers. For example, Madelyn Newman, the Director of Product and Customer Marketing for CallRail notes an analysis tool called call tracking can help you see, “ … which specific ads and keywords are driving phone leads, so you can use this information to optimize sales and marketing messaging.”

All of the areas wherein your customer base interacts with your company, whether it be on social media or over the phone can be analyzed to spot patterns in the behavior of your customers.

Secondary research

Secondary research is information already gathered that your company can analyze to better its grasp of customers and the industry as a whole. While secondary research is less specific by nature, it’s more efficient and economical since the data has already been collected.

This data can be taken from studies and journals, the press, or research organizations. However, it can also be existing information that your company has gathered previously. Secondary research is often valuable for establishing big-picture information about customer demographics and the industry as a whole.

Again, it is important to note that knowing what information you’re looking for is the key to making research use an asset and not a waste of time.

According to the SEO marketing specialists at RivalMind, “If you have a high-traffic website, chances are good you have a metrics program keeping track of all your numbers. That’s a good thing. However, you need to be able to correctly interpret all that data if you’re going to make any sense of it. Especially if you want to convert more visitors. So don’t shell out a huge amount of money for more metrics; instead, make sure you can understand the ones you have.”

This only works when a company recognizes how much is too much. Make sure that you’re researching with an end goal in mind, and that you have a practical plan to put the insights gained to work.

The time is now

In a lot of ways, this is the golden age of market research. For the businesswoman pursuing an edge via research analysis, the digital age is making it easier and easier not just to gather data, but to convert it into a plan that is actually beneficial for an organization. It is becoming less and less of a financial risk and increasingly a surefire way to ensure long-term health.

For example, business experts at Ohio University point out, “The need for big data to be interpreted on a daily basis has resulted in a greater demand for artificial intelligence systems. Prompt business decisions are propelling the growth of this dynamic technology because artificial intelligence has the capability to process, analyze, and disseminate data faster than humans can.”

Market research analysis has existed in one form or another as long as business has existed. The companies that thrive have always known they have to pay attention to their customers, but technology is making the process far easier and far more comprehensive than it has ever been before. Much of the work is done for us now.

Implementing this into the structure of your business plan is a crucial step towards leaving the competition in the dust. If done correctly, it can become the key to seeing things more clearly than the competitors and making decisive choices for your organization that others are not prepared to make. The data is out there; it’s time to analyze it.

About Avery Taylor Phillips

Avery Taylor Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.

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