Many business plans are very strong on the production side, but without market research, the plan is based on untested and potentially unrealistic assumptions. History has proven that having the best product or service does not guarantee success. Having a well-researched and implemented market strategy, however, WILL tip the scales in your favor.
What is Market Research Really?
Market Research is a core component of business planning. Once you have defined what you would like to do, you need to determine if there is a market for it, who that market is, and how to reach them. Few products or services appeal to everybody. Each product or service on the market has unique features that appeal to a need or want in certain people (motivating factors).
Your Market Research goal is to identify what type of customers would be most likely to respond to the features in your brand, product or service (market segmentation); what needs or wants your features fulfill for each market segment, what “benefits” resonate (motivating factors); and what is the most effective way to engage with each market segment (market strategy) so they absorb your messaging, are aware the product exists and are motivated to buy it, and you have made the product available in locations/types of settings and product formats that facilitate their ability to buy it.
Successful businesses do not try to appeal to everybody. It is expensive, inefficient, and ineffective. They prioritize their marketing budget and resources on highly focused messages cultivating their top market segments. You need to know what makes you and your product or service special, who that specialness will resonate with, and how to engage that audience.
Market Research helps you develop assumptions for your business plan, test your assumptions, and refine the plan based on what you learn. It lends confidence to your business plan by reducing uncertainty, quantifying and qualifying your market and sales potential, and so gives you the ability to gauge potential success and how to get there.
Getting Started is Easy
If you look at the process as one big whole, Market Research may seem like it’s out of reach. But since it’s so important, I want to help you do it successfully. That’s why I broke it down into steps you can manage in my Market Research Workbook. You can download the workbook here for free. Then, if you need help as you go through the process, feel free to drop me a line. My specialty is providing business planning consulting services to farmers who are exploring new markets and business opportunities. My contact information is available at my web site.