Market research educates and guides small businesses towards the right strategy. Most start-up companies conduct some form of market research whether it is formal or informal. This could be as something as simple as reviewing competitor sites, reading openly sourced industry content available online, or creating a short rating or comment box on a website. Market research is defined as gathering information about industries, consumers, or marketing.
We hope this post helps you get through the maze of market research, to get you the answers you need to help grow your business.
Although custom market research is often suggested for a new small business, we understand budgets can be tight during the start up grind. Fortunately, plenty of free resources exist online which help educate you on your customers and your industry. Having a background in both the area of a start-up and market research field, we thought we'd share some of these invaluable resources start-up small businesses can use to conduct market research.
Free Online Survey Platforms
Here is a list of websites which offer basic survey design for free. Many limit their capabilities with a free account (e.g., 100 completes or less, no skip patterns, no real-time data) but you can use any of these tools to get started with a basic customer satisfaction survey. Be careful on wording as you won't want to bias your results. Set aside the time to review and analyze the results coming in as well.
Free Geographical Market Data
As a small business, one question you might have is what do our market demographics look like? Several resources exist here which will provide high level data on some key demographic categories you are seeking. A little known favorite of mine is Melissa Data which can help you run a quick report for pulling all ZIP Codes within a county. This comes in handy for target marketing.
- Census Data from census.gov with American Fact Finder
- Melissa Data
- State Websites for Labor Statistics
Free Consumer Behavior and Business Data
These resources will help you dig a little deeper into your niche market or audiences for B2B or B2C. Think with Google gives you an option to sign-up for a newsletter which delivers new data right to your inbox. Google is always revealing new market statistics and consumer behavior studies. BizStats and Hoover's offer firmographics data on businesses including your potential competitors.
Free Resources to Learn More About Market Research 101
Conducting a new market research project can be a daunting task for a start-up small business. In addition to being unsure on the process, research also takes significant time. With this in mind, here are some websites and blogs in the field which offer some market research 101 advice.
- Entrepreneur.com Market Research 101
- Drive Research Blog
- The 5 Basics of Market Research via AllBusiness
Thank you for reading this List of Free Market Research Resources blog post. If you found this list helpful regardless of whether you are a start-up, small businesses, or corporation, please share it with your network. Questions about this information? Email us at [email protected].