If you plan to start a business, a market survey should be one of your first orders of business. Actually, it should be done well before you open the doors of a business because it should help you know whether or not you should open the business that youre considering. When your marketing survey is done, it should tell you if you have enough potential customers to have a chance at having a successful business. After all, you want to know if your product or service is going to sell like hotcakes, a Yugo or somewhere in between. So you need to test (your product or service) business waters before you jump in. Doing a market survey before you start a business could put you on the road to prosperity or it could save you a lot of time, money, and grief.
The Big Boys Marketing Survey
The easiest way to do a marketing survey is to have it done for you. You could pay a company to do a survey for you. You can buy a bare minimum survey or you can get one with all of the bells and whistles. Marketing companies have the infrastructure, personnel, and experience to put together a reliable market survey. This may be the easiest way to get a survey done but it can get expensive. Having the big boys put together a professionally done market survey may be the way to go if you can afford it. But if you cant afford it, you should do it yourself. There are plenty of free resources to help you put a market survey together.
The Look-See Marketing Survey
One of the most successful marketing surveys has been when an entrepreneur saw a need and set out to meet the need. For example, Henry ford saw the need for motorized vehicles and made it happen. He wasnt the first to see the need but he became one of the most successful automobile manufacturers of all time. More recently, Mark Zuckerberg saw how the Internet could be used to connect friends so that they could socialize online and today millions of people interact online on what we know as Facebook. If youre doing a market survey on a budget, you could use the look-see marketing survey technique as a part of an overall survey. To personalize this, say you want to open a scooter store and make money. Do you see a big need for scooters in the area. If so, you should definitely continue developing a market survey. If not, that’s a red flag that says this might not be the best time and/or place to open a scooter store. While useful, the look-see method is the exception and not the rule for marketing surveys.
Social Media Survey
You have to take advantage of the potential of social media for market surveys. Facebook offers business pages that can help you establish your brand on the Internet. Facebook Business Pages come with apps and other tools to help your business succeed. A Facebook business page will cost you so be prepared to pay for that. You can leverage the power of social media sites like Facebook, and Twitter to help you survey people all over the world if your business idea calls for that. In addition, Twitter is a great way to establish a business presence online by posting messages to members of your account on Twitter and interacting with them online. The point is that social media can help you do a targeted marketing survey that works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
An email campaign is another low cost marketing technique that you can use. You can send surveys to all of your email contacts. If you combine this with an opportunity to win prizes you could get replies from many of your contacts. The prize could be dinner for two at a local restaurant or movie tickets to a local theater. You may have another idea for a prize but the goal is to get as many surveys returned as possible.
The Old Fashion Way – a Clipboard and Face-to-Face
Pounding the pavement with a clipboard and surveys in-hand is a good way to test the market for your idea. Meeting people on the street and asking them to answer a few questions could get you some completed surveys. You could also ask people to take a self-addressed, postage paid, survey, fill it out, and drop it in the mail. Dont forget to ask for email addresses for your email campaign.
Free Help and Mentoring
There are free business resources available to help you do a market survey if you know where to look. For example, the Clemson Regional Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) website states that the SCDC, offers personal guidance and assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs. These services are offered in the Upstate counties of South Carolina. The site further states the Centers services as follows:
Through personal and confidential consultation, SBDC representatives provide one-on-one management and technical assistance to small business owners who wish to start, grow or maintain their businesses. The SBDC offers marketing analysis, business plan preparation, financial feasibility studies and other valuable resources to the entrepreneur at little to no cost.
This kind of mentoring can be invaluable to entrepreneurs and small business owners. There may be similar resources that you can take advantage of where you live. Regardless of where you live, there are plenty of free resources on the SBDC website.
A marketing survey is an invaluable tool but its only data and there are a lot of other factors that will determine how successful your business will be. The data in a marketing survey has to be interpreted objectively or things could turn out badly. So use one or more of the techniques above to put together your market survey to assess your potential for success or failure. Getting mentoring from someone thats been there and done that could help you with this process. Why recreate the wheel? This is why you should do a market survey before you start a business.