Market research is a challenge for many small businesses. The data that you may need to conquer your corner of the world may not exist in a tidy database, yet marketing strategy should be well informed with real information.
One of the best methods of market research available to the small business in my opinion is the customer or prospect survey. Picking up the phone and calling your best customers from time to time to dig in and really understand what you do well, what you do that is unique, what you could do that no one else does is essential for creating a marketing strategy and message that has impact.
Further using free and low cost tools like Survey Monkey, Survey Gizmo or the survey feature from an email service like iContact is a great way to assess product viability, product features, product names, service names or any other aspect of your business. People like to be asked for their opinion and committing to gathering consistent feedback and research is a great way to move your business in the right direction and monitor the health of your customer relationships.
I spent a few minutes chatting with Barry Jennings, Market Research Guru for Dell. Dell has invested tremendous in recent years getting out and talking one on one with customers and doing very small businesslike research.