Our top 5 FREE market research ideas!

When you can't find what you are looking for from a third-party source (other peoples websites, library, public bodies etc) it may be time to conduct your own research. It is important that you do some of your own research around your business as this is data that is specific and relevant to you. It is also a great habit to get into! Here are our top 5 FREE market research ideas. Enjoy!

1. Talking to people

Old skool! This could be interviews, focus groups, calls to customers etc. Simply asking people what they think is a good place to start. Prepare your questions in advance so you know what you want to ask them but be open to asking more questions if there is an opportunity to learn more. Open questions work really well if you want to dig a bit deeper (Why? Where? how? etc).

2. Surveys

We've all been on the receiving end of one of these, so be mindful of how dull they are, and now unmotivated people can be to complete them. Make sure they are short and sweet and focus on only the key answers you need (A rule of thumb is no more than 10 questions). Can you incentivise people to complete the survey? Maybe the option to win a prize or get a discount code. But make sure that people answering are your target customer, not just people looking for a freebie.

How will you get your survey in front of people? Face-to-face, email, social media etc? Again, think about who you are trying to ask the question to and what medium would best suit them. Finally, think carefully about who you get to complete your survey. I am sure your mum will tell you everything you want to hear, but is she your target customer? Getting honest answers from the people that will pay for your products or services are the people you need to target. Look at online survey software like SurveyMonkey for creating easy online surveys.

3. Analytics

If you have a website set up already and have some sales in the bag, maybe take a look at the analytic software that hides behind websites and social media platforms to see who is interacting (and hopefully) buying from you. This data is free to access and tells you who is visiting your digital pages, when, from which search engines, what keywords they are using and a whole host of other useful information. Definitely worth investing time in a bit of online training for this as it will certainly help you to build understanding of your customer over the long term. Some platforms offer free training, so look out for that!

4. Sampling

Get out and test your products/services on your target audience. Consider where these people are and how you can get in front of them to trial. The founders of Innocent smoothies famously set up a stall at a festival giving away samples, and offering people two bins to put their sample pot in. The question asked was 'should we give up our day job to make smoothies?'. One bin said 'Yes’, and the other bin said 'No'. You can guess which one was overflowing by the end of the day! The only thing that would have made the research better is if people had the opportunity to buy the smoothies there and then. It is easy for people to say nice things about you but putting their money where their mouth is would be a much more valuable insight. Turns out they did OK for themselves anyway. How could sampling your products and/or services work for you?

5. Observation

Simply watching what is happening and noting down patterns and trends. This could be seeing how many people visit a particular café, shop or venue, or even noticing the types of people that visit or the times of day they come. Maybe it is about the types of cars that drive into a certain car park and the times of day it is busiest? Obviously, this has to be relevant to your business, but what information would be most useful to you to be able to make decisions about your pricing, products and marketing? Where can you best find this information through simply observing?


Want more help with starting or growing your business? Did you know we offer affordable 1:1 coaching and have packages of support that you can complete in your own time. Think of us as a knowledgable friend who asks the right questions and isn't afraid to give you that kick up the bum when you need it!

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