Your Business With James Caan 2017 - 48

Are you brave
enough?
Market research isn't just for big business. SMEs have a
lot to gain from researching their customers, so long as
they don't mind facing any negative feedback

M

arket research isn't just for
the big players. It can have a
transformative effect, helping
SMEs to develop new products and
services, improve customer retention
and increase profit. But you have to be
brave enough to hear the bad feedback
as well as the good. Knowing what to
fix is often the key to transforming the
fortunes of a small business.

At its heart, market research works out who
your customers are, how to attract more of
them and how to make them happier. Happy
customers buy more: the probability of selling to
your current customers is about 60-70%, while
selling to a new one is 20%.
You will have undoubtedly been the recipient
of surveys yourself, but where do you start
when you've never conducted market research
before? The best research is often the simplest.
Alex Johnston, director at Jigsaw Research, and
Phil Morrison, MD of Whycatcher, who have
more than 25 years' experience of SME research,
recommend starting with a simple checklist:
 Who to talk to Make a list of customers,
prospects, detractors
 How to collect feedback Will you conduct
the survey via email, website, postcard?
 What to ask Think about different
viewpoints and demographics
 What to do about it How will you make
changes with the results

Where to start
It's key to speak to those people who actually
put their hands in their pockets to pay for your
products and services. So talk to the parent, not
their children. And make sure you choose active
customers who have used your services most
recently to get a real time snapshot of how the
market views your business.
The way you research customers depends on
your customer base. Do you have a database
of 2,000 prospects or know 50 customers

personally? Online quantitative surveys are
better for larger numbers, where you want to
gather general trends and opinions, whereas for
a smaller base you should consider qualitative
research, such as a focus group.
When Edinburgh-based photo website
Blipfoto ran into trouble, it turned to research.
"Blipfoto had a loyal following but had run out
of money," explains its commercial director,

With the advent
of online surveys,
collecting feedback
has massively
reduced in price
and complexity



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http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Careers/jcspring2018
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Careers/JobsandCareersAutumn2017
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Careers/YourBusinessWithJamesCaan2017
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Careers/Careers/Careers_with_Hayley_Taylor_2011
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