Every market research project starts with defining a problem or an opportunity that is the focus of the market research project.
If you're working on a marketing problem or have a marketing opportunity you want to pursue, there are three things to sort out before you get started: your marketing objective, your marketing budget and your marketing timeline.
With a marketing problem or opportunity defined, the next step is to set objectives for your market research operations.
Your objective might be to explore the nature of a problem so you may further define it.
Or perhaps it is to determine how many people will buy your product packaged in a certain way and offered at a certain price.
Your objective might even be to test possible cause and effect relationships. For example, if you lower your price by 10 percent, what increased sales volume should you expect? What impact will this strategy have on your profit?
How much money are you willing to invest in your market research? How much can you afford?
Your market research budget is a portion of your overall marketing budget. A method popular with small business owners to establish a marketing budget is to allocate a small percentage of gross sales for the most recent year.
This usually amounts to about two percent for an existing business. However, if you are planning on launching a new product or business, you may want to increase your budget figure, to as much as 10 percent of your expected gross sales.
Other methods used by small businesses include analyzing and estimating the competition's budget, and calculating your cost of marketing per sale.
To complete the foundational work that sets you up for a successful market research project, prepare a detailed, realistic time frame to complete all steps of the market research process.
If your business operates in cycles, establish target dates that will allow the best accessibility to your market.
For example, a holiday greeting card business may want to conduct research before or around the holiday season buying period, when their customers are most likely to be thinking about their purchases.