Market research is vital to the survival of a business. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to break the bank and likely you are already conducting it without knowing you are. Here are some easy market research methods that won’t break the bank though for many of them I do recommend bringing in a marketer or coach to run them for you. If you do it yourself beware of Confirmation Bias (you really need to look this up) as it can be very costly and make your hard work useless or even damaging to your business. Here are 6 ways to conduct some easy market research.
See what your customers are already saying. This is an easy way to see what is being said in the open market about your product or service. Use reputable sites to get a feel for the mood around your brand but go with an open mind, reviews can be harsh.
ASK CUSTOMERS FOR FEEDBACK
Just ask. Find some loyal customers and some new customers and ask them directly what you are doing well and what you can work on. Use that feedback to ask better questions next time as well.
FORM YOUR OWN FOCUS GROUP
Focus groups can give you great insight especially into new possible product launches or new services you want to offer. Be careful they don’t turn into echo chambers as that can be costly and of no use to you.
SURVEY YOUR CONTACTS
Talk to people you know but not necessarily do business with. They can be a great outside eye for your business. Networking groups and alumni groups are perfect for getting a second opinion.
There are sites where you can get random strangers to weigh in on your product or service. If you don’t want to spend the money on guaranteed responses you can always go it alone using social media or just stand on a busy corner working the crowd with surveys.
Many platforms allow polls and you can boost many posts to reach outside your typical audience. You can also just do keyword searches to see what people are complaining about related to the industry you work in. It’s a treasure trove of data to be found.
Returns policies can make or break an online business. So what do you need to do to make sure your return policy doesn’t sink you before you get started? Here is a quick guide to help you craft the perfect policy for your business.
The numbers look grim if you are an online retailer. Around 30% of the products retailers ship out will come back as returns. The downside is that 65% of those returns were the retailers’ fault resulting in money they didn’t have to spend and decreasing the bottom line. A good return policy is crucial in the ultra-competitive online world so examine yours carefully. There are other things you can be doing to prevent returns and save yourself headaches and money. Let’s look at the statistics and what they mean to you.
23% of returns are because the wrong item was shipped out. This is an amateur league mistake that even the pros seem to be making. It’s simple, have a redundant system of double check to make sure the right item is shipped every time. A few more minutes to make sure the item is the right one or hours of headaches dealing with an irate customer and refunds or more shipping charges. The choice is clear, get it right every time.
22% of returns are because the product looks different. Not 100% fixable but mostly avoidable. Make sure your product is shot in multiple angles and in different light settings. A video will also help with hands or other objects to give a sense of scale.
20% of returns are due to damage. Sure you can have insurance on the product and send the customer a new one, but is that excellent customer service? Not all damage can be avoided but taking extra precautions and making sure the product arrives intact will pay for itself in happy customers. “The box was damaged but the item was fine” = WIN!
92% of customers will buy again if the returns are easy. So you messed up and sent the wrong thing, but the right one was shipped quick and the customer is happy. You will still likely get more business from them in the future. Customers understand mix-ups, your or theirs, and will forgive retailers who make it right without a ton of hassle.
There you have it, some stats to help guide your policies and give you something to think about.
One way to boost your sales is to provide free samples to potential customers. We have all see the people in the store handing out free tastes of various products but the sampling game can go much further than that. If you are in the food industry it is the perfect way to get customers to try your product and typically sees a 23-30% conversion rate, well worth the expense. Tastings can turn a “satisfied customer” into a “highly satisfied customer.” The difference here, according to a wine tasting study is “she (or he) is likely to spend an additional $10 buying an extra bottle of wine (with a probability of 93 percent), and to re-purchase wine in the future (92 percent probability).”
It’s not just for food. A yoga mat company sent out small examples of its economic and environmentally friendly Yoga Mats and in response to a mail-out of 500 samples, the company received a whopping 300 phone calls.
Here are some tips to help you get your sample game going.
1. Produce small samples of your products. – If you are in the restaurant business, they could be bite-size portions of a new product. Retail shops can purchase sample-size products from distributors to hand out to potential customers.
2. Attach a coupon, business card, or flier to your samples to further advertise your business. -This will provide an incentive for consumers to come back and purchase a full-size version of your product. This also increases the longevity of your marketing effort. When they see your card or flyer they will remember the goodwill created by giving them the sample.
3. Hire employees with good customer service skills to stand by the entrance of the business to pass out the samples. – Be sure they are friendly and can answer questions about the product. Having someone who doesn’t know the product as they give out samples can be disastrous so don’t skimp on the training.
4. Make note of what consumers say about your products or business as you’re handing out samples. – This is an opportunity to find out if you need to make any adjustments in price, appearance, taste, or effectiveness. Converting customers plus market research, it’s a win-win.