Market Research Shows the Way
It’s almost the new year. Many new resolutions will be made. Many firms will be renewing or starting strategic planning for the upcoming year. Did you know that many firms miss the mark on their targets because they continue with their current target markets and clients, simply because it’s what they have done it in the past? Don’t fall into that trap. Take the time to conduct market research and get headed in the right direction. Before you start down the wrong path, conduct market research that can help you determine whether your target markets will provide an equitable return.
MARKET RESEARCH TOOLS
Using the web is an excellent source for market research. It is also a good idea to talk to people in the local area, whether in person or via phone call. We’ve found that people usually like to share their knowledge and can be very helpful when they know you are conducting research, not making a sales call. Here are five of our top secondary research sources for local market research:
- Chamber of Commerce
- Business journals and newspapers
- Local Planning Department
- Local Economic Development Department
- Local real estate companies
However, the most important market research tool is often overlooked. It’s so simple, yet often seems like a daunting task. Talk to your existing clients and/or potential clients. Don’t forget consultants, contractors, vendors in the industry, either by geographic location or market sector. No one knows the market better than those IN the market.
MARKET RESEARCH TOPICS
While you have your clients and/or potential clients on the phone, gather as much information as possible. Topics you may want to consider include:
- Location: Will the location you are considering pursuing clients/projects continue to support the service or market you provide? Can you provide staff to service the location and still be profitable?
- Competition: How much competition exists for the service or market you are considering? Is the competition meeting the needs of the clients/project?
- Potential Clients: Who are the potential clients you will be pursuing? Are they open to hiring new consultants?
- Potential Projects: What types of projects will you be pursuing? Are there enough projects to support the service or market? Are the projects profitable?
- Available Staffing: Will you be able to find employees with the skills you need to complete the work?
- Available Subs / Vendors: Are there subcontractors and vendors that will be able to support you?
HOW DO I GATHER THE INFORMATION?
Gathering this information is simpler than you may realize. MARKETLINK asks fact-finding questions to help us gain the knowledge we need to make the best strategic decisions for our clients. Start with these top nine information-gathering questions to start an engaging conversation.
- Are you familiar with [insert your firm’s name here]? If so, what is your impression of our firm?
- What firm(s) are currently assisting you with your [insert discipline here] needs?
- What are the strengths and areas of improvement of [insert discipline here] firms in general? What other services would you find useful for [insert discipline here] firms to provide you?
- What impact is the current economy having on development within your region?
- How do you see your industry changing in the next 3-5 years?
- What will be important to you in hiring a [insert discipline here] given those changes?
- How do you think these changes will impact opportunities to work with [insert discipline here]?
- What are your procedures for hiring a [insert discipline here]? Who makes that decision?
- What projects do you anticipate in the next year?
IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY: NOW WHAT?
Once you’ve completed your market research, these seven steps will help you use what you’ve learned to move forward:
- Analyze your research to understand its implications
- Hold a strategy session and address all market research items in your strategic direction
- Define your firm’s goals and objectives for those goals based upon this information
- Gain leadership commitment and buy-in for the efforts it will take to implement the strategic direction
- Determine your direct and indirect marketing needs
- Establish marketing support staff and systems
- Conduct internal marketing to get everyone on board
Market research is the most powerful tool you can have in directing and guiding your firm’s overall marketing goals and objectives. Without knowing where the market, location, industry and competition are heading you cannot make educated decisions to plan your most efficient and effective strategy to meet your goals. Start the new year off right: Be armed with market research to guide your direction.