Many organizations immediately jump to customers when they think of a survey. You may think: "I already know everything I need to know about my customers, I don't need to survey them." The same organization might think it would be great to survey the market as a whole or non-customers but do not understand the possibilities here.
A market survey is an excellent way to survey a general population or target market where you promote your products or services. Customers buy from you from a variety of reasons, but what about the untapped market of non-customers in your area.
Could the non-customers in your market expedite your growth?
Are they aware of your brand? What do they think about your brand? How likely are they to consider your brand? Where have they seen or heard information about your brand? Why do they choose competitors over your organization?
All of these questions can be answered through a simple market survey. Here are 6 steps to help you get from A to Z.
Interested in conducting a market survey? We'll give you the 6-step process here.
Step 1: Proposal
The first step is finding a third-party market research company to assist you with your survey. Why? It is imperative that you separate yourself as the sponsor of the market research. If survey takers know you are sponsoring the research they may not be fully honest or falsify data to impact your results.
Using a separate and third-party market research company ensures confidentiality and anonymity of the responses. By using an expert, they will not only teach you which questions should be asked and how, but they will also provide a layer of protection to ensure results are reliable and honest.
So, your first step is reaching out for a market research proposal. Here are 7 components of a market research proposal to help you understand what to expect.
Step 2: Kickoff and Workplan
Once you decide on a market research company to assist you, the next step is to set up a kickoff meeting. This 30 to 60 minute kickoff meeting covers all of the main highlights of the survey, the process, the timeline, and the end deliverable. The survey company will send out an agenda prior to the meeting to highlight key objectives and topics of discussion.
This kickoff meeting sets the table for the entire project. Not only does your organization tell the survey company what you need answers to, but the survey company also recommends best practice survey questions.
After the kickoff meeting, a project workplan is designed. The workplan lays out the tasks, responsible parties, and timeline to completion. This workplan helps keep all teams on-task and on-time throughout the project.
Step 3: Survey Design and Programming
Now you are ready to draft a survey. We recommend keeping the survey to 15 to 20 questions. This lasts about 5 minutes. Why? Particularly with a market survey where the sponsor is not identified, it is crucial to keep the questionnaire quick.
Remember, in many cases since the survey is to a random population of people in your target market, they likely do not have strong ties or a relationship on the topic. Therefore, they are looking for a quick and engaging way to share feedback in exchange for value or a reward.
A simple example: Could you get a customer to spend 15 minutes with you on the phone talking about a recent purchase? Although difficult, it can be done. Since the customer has a relationship with your brand they are more likely to share time.
Could you get a random person you dial on the phone to talk with you for 15 minutes? Very unlikely. Almost impossible. Although this is drastic, the same mentality needs to be applied to market surveys. Keep it short. Keep it simple. Offer an incentive.
Once the survey is finalized on a Word document, the market research firm then transfers it into their online survey software and sends a test link. This link is used for in-house testing so you can try the survey out as a real participant using test responses.
Step 4: Testing and Soft-Launch
You may be wondering: How do I acquire non-customer survey responses? This is part of the value of going with a professional market research company. They can: (1) use a panel or email list of target participants in a market or (2) utilize social media to acquire responses through random paid advertisements. Both methodologies are excellent ways to acquire feedback from a targeted population (both B2B and B2C).
The programmed survey link is then used for the test drive or soft launch. A soft launch is the process of acquiring a small percentage of survey responses prior to a full launch. This soft-launch identifies any issues early, tests for question comprehension, and helps an organization understand response rates.
Step 5: Fieldwork
The second to last step is launching the survey. This is a full launch to the panel, email list, or through social media. As the data rolls in, you'll want to audit it and make sure the responses pass your quality control checks.
Depending on the size of your target market, several levels of response options may be offered by the market research company. This may include 100 responses (offering a +/- 10% margin of error with a random sample), 200 responses, or even 400 responses (+/- 5%). The level of 400 responses is considered best practice in the industry.
If you are lucky enough from a reliability and budgeting standpoint, aim for 1,000 responses. This is the ultimate degree of statistical reliability for an organization with a market survey and offers a lot of room for cross-tabulations and breakdowns of the data.
For example, if you want to compare results of men and women and you obtain 100 responses that may include 50 men and 50 women. The reliability of 50 responses is far lower than the 100 responses in total. But if you acquire 400 responses, think about the reliability of breaking the data down by gender by 200 men and 200 women.
Step 6: Analysis and Reporting
The last step the market research company will manage is the analysis and reporting. This deliverable adds tremendous value to your project. A comprehensive report includes an executive summary and themes, recommendations and action items, an infographic, respondent persona, and an appendix of question-by-question results.
The market research company guides your organization through interpretations and context tied to your results. The insights assist you with next steps and action items to ensure you do not sit still on the findings.
The appendix is not meant to undervalue the charts and graphs, but rather provide a ton of detail. In the appendix you'll see breakdowns of genders, ages, and other categorizations for your market survey.
Contact Drive Research
Drive Research is a market research firm located in Upstate New York. Our team works with organizations across the country to assist with all things market research. This includes defining objectives, managing fieldwork, and reporting.
Interested in learning more? Contact us.