Market Research on the Cheap

Working people didn’t spend 20% of their annual income on Encyclopedia sets because some door to door salesman tricked them into thinking how nice it would be to own a bunch of books. People paid high prices for those gold bound Encyclopedias because they wanted to feel like good parents who were giving their offspring an advantage.

Emotions and the desires that spring from those emotions are the reason that people buy almost everything. A successful business understands the buying emotions and the desires of its customers, and finds a way to satisfy them.

Master salesman will tell you that it is impossible to create a need for a product or service that will not plainly satisfy what people want. Some business schools still teach that wants and needs can be created with slick marketing. How little those academics know about human nature.

The purpose of market research is to know your customer, to unravel the bundle of human emotions and find out what your potential customers really want.

Here are three ways that you can do market research on the cheap. Just because the research method is online does not mean that it cannot also be applied to an off-line business.

1. Keyword Analysis. Everyday people type queries into Google and the other search engines on an almost infinite variety of topics. There are free keyword research tools offered by Google and Microsoft, among others, that will return hundreds or results of the exact phrases that people used to find out more about any topic.

Your job as a market research analyst is to look behind the words and phrases that people use to search. Do some phrases have a greater sense of urgency than others? Are some searches more specific about the nature of a problem?

It will take a little practice, but after a while you can develop a sense of what people really want from the keyword phrases they use when they search on the Internet.

2. Active Forums. There are online forums or communities on thousands of different topics where strangers get together and talk about a common problem with more frankness and honestly then they probably would in person. Anonymity has its virtue.

You would spend thousands of dollars to do market research with a focus group. You can do nearly the same thing for free with online forums.

3. The Competitions’ Sales Letters. A professionally written sales letter will deliberately target buying emotions. Top copywriters get paid thousands of dollars to write those sales letters. You can take advantage of your competitor’s research and the copywriter’s expertise by studying the well written sales letter to identify and understand those dominant buying emotions.

Market Research Jobs – An Overview

The main focus when working in market research is to help companies understand what types of products people want, determine who will buy them and at what price. Key to the roles is gathering statistical data on competitors and examining prices, sales, and methods of marketing and distribution, and then analyse the data on past sales to predict future sales. For many roles you need to be quite savvy with Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint, whereby the first is used for analysing the data and the second for producing reports and presentations.

In some cases the job involves devising methods and procedures for obtaining the data that is needed by designing surveys to assess consumer preferences. While a majority of surveys are conducted through the Internet and telephone, other methods may include focus group discussions, mail responses, or setting up booths in public places, such as shopping malls, for example.

Often names can be quite confusing with the market research world. In one company a Research Analyst can be bottom of the career path whilst in others this is seen as a quite advanced role. The below list is therefore a generalisation of most common roles within market research (excluding data processing and field roles). Based on firsthand experience, a rule of thumb can be is that progressing from one role to the next takes between 1.5 to 3 years, depending on the company, training & education and drive of a person.

Junior Research Executive / Trainee / Analyst

Most common for graduates & student placements. The role is mainly focussed on reporting, data control and administration. Most likely in this role you will have support from a manager and depending on the team a director and / or more experienced executives. If you work for an agency it is most likely that you will start visiting clients after several months in the job, under guidance of the manager or director. Some areas of tasks are Design/Methodology, Data Management, Data Analysis and Report Writing.

(Senior) Research Executive

Many day to day tasks are similar to the junior or trainee role. The difference is that you will have ownership of reporting / project and become more self reliant. You will be giving the responsibility of projects from start to finish including taking briefs, questionnaire design, reporting and delivering of insight.

When working for an agency it is possible that you will be starting giving parts of presentations or get the responsibility of training / workshops for the client. Other areas that will develop during this time is supporting the manager in sales targets and writing proposals. In some cases you might get the responsibility for generating revenue or extending client contracts.

As you now have experience working in market research, you will be expected to “think outside the box” and use your established experience to break through the boundaries.

Research / Insight Manager

Although this is quite similar to account manager role, the focus of an insight / research manager is on the actual analysis and management of data / projects.

Vital job requirements include direct experience in the area of work (quantitative / qualitative / continuous data etc), an ability to generate insights and the management of multiple, multi-disciplinary projects at once with a strong sense of time management.

Associate Director / Consultant

This role involves providing direction and assist with the development of the team, designing and managing projects with a high level of autonomy and responsibility.

Key aspects of the role are taking projects from kick off to completion, managing a small team to coach them to help them achieve their potential, account management of several clients, and contributing to business development.

Business Analyst Roles

Business Analyst Roles:

There are many types of roles that are required of a modern Analyst. It depends greatly on the type of industry you are in, but some fundamental aspects remain. Let’s break the term Business Analyst down for a second. The term Business implies the goal of making money. But there are many types of organizations that are in business not just to make money. Take non-profit organizations or community groups for example. And Analyst means a person who analyzes something. So some people may argue that a better term for a Business Analyst is a “Organization Analyst”. The most key roles for a Analyst include:

  • Superior attention to detail
  • Great interpersonal skills
  • Excellent communication both written and verbal
  • Understanding of the company’s business practices and familiarity with the industry.

You should notice that these skills are not just confined to one type of industry. The main goal of any organization analyst is to define the solution that helps the organization reach its goal; it is that simple. Now days more and more people feel that the Business Analyst is involved in just I.T. solutions. This is not the case. There are many different types of business analysts and they can have varying degrees of responsibility.

Here are just a few of the titles that encompass the role of modern Analyst’s.

  • Business
  • Systems
  • Data
  • Business Systems Analyst
  • I.T. Business Analyst
  • Product Development Analyst

This is just a small list of the types of roles that business analysts can occupy. If you are looking to become a business analyst in the I.T. field then you may be required to know software development or understand the structure of how networks are built. A business can be a very integral part of an organizations success or failure. It is not the type of job that you can assume has entry level positions. These types of people are usually experts or have high competency in their field.

There are however courses and certifications that you can receive to help you with credentials. I have done lots of research and have found very few formal business analyst training programs. It is hard to set up programs for roles that experts in a particular field will employ. Although there are some online courses and universities that do offer such course work. The roles of BA’s are always changing and will continue to do so. As long as business is going on organizations will need people who know how to analyze what they are doing and help them achieve their main goals. These people are usually very well compensated for what they know and many can earn over 100k/year. There is no standard work week for a business analyst as many work way over 40 hours. These people sometimes have the fair of the organization in their hands and it can be very pressure driven.

Even though it can be a very high stress job most BA’s get satisfaction in knowing that what they are doing really makes a difference. It can be a stressful profession, but also a very rewarding one. Imagine if you knew that your work was helping an organization succeed in the market.

Marketing Research for NPD

Need meets Demand and Product meets the Needs – Products and concepts of innovative nature are difficult to be researched, owing to their intangibility. An experienced Researcher can help with this by bridging the gap between the new product development opportunities and the unmet needs of the buyer or the potential users by educating the Target audience and planting the seed for it.

Marketing research may be regarded as an experiment that can be unsuccessful if not conducted under the right and suitable conditions. Bottom-up approach of Needs Assessment and Concept Screening is more successful that the top-down approach of trying to fit and create acceptance of a new product or concept into the current market.

Concept Development to Product Launch – Market Research can be a part of the Product development at various stages from Egg implantation into the mother’s womb to the final Delivery of the baby.

Time is Money – Timely market research with high budgets can sometime prove much productive than a long-term but well-budgeted qualitative market research, because of an early launch and the first mover advantage.

Customer is the King – Retaining the existing market share and the users is very important and critical to an organisations health and wellbeing. Research helps in listening to consumer demands, invest in product development, innovation and improvement; and thus, make the customer feel important by being heard; which in turn rewards you with customer loyalty and an increased customer base.

Penetrating New MarketsQualitative Market Research helps find new markets for some old products or helps develop strategies for brand re-positioning or, rejuvenates the product life cycle by helping study the underlying needs of consumers.

Elimination of Ideas with no potential Returns – Research can help reduce the risks of potential hefty investments in future at a very nascent stage, by identifying the market and bouncing it off the identified target audience and focus groups. Thus, it can be a very strong reason to choose the right Market research organisation today… to avoid wrong turns and unseen accidents.

A Research Analyst is at the core of market research and has to use self-analysis, expertise and judgement; in addition to other qualitative research tools available for planning a successful launch of a New Product. These analysts act as moderators of an idea, rather than be a part of it at every step. They help testify, verify and put your beliefs on the right track.