In business and in life, knowledge is power. And you can only acquire knowledge if you dive deep into the books. In business, research is time-consuming but it pays you back tenfold. It’s quite remarkable how powerful a little bit of competitor, product, marketing and industry research can be. When you combine a lot of different minds together, from the research and design, risk, legal, admin and financial departments, you get a lot of insight into the things that really will help your business to become a blue chip company one day. So how do you do it? There are automated tools, like the Kano Model that can be useful in gaining a thorough understanding of a customer’s needs; helping you differentiate potential product features according to users’ needs. In addition, online resources can help you attract users, and also research isn’t that hard to execute but it does take time to formulate a plan, chase up leads of information and then produce a report on what is going on, and what business can take action. Here are some of the best ways to go about it.
There’s market research and then there’s marketing research. Both are not inherently linked but both do display how the market is feeling. When the market is feeling bullish, you see more aggressive and enthusiastic marketing campaigns. Let’s face it, no one puts together a marketing ad with loud music, smiles and lots of people have fun during a recession. It’s going to be more focussed on investing, saving, being patient and frugal, etc. So how do you choose what kind of marketing style you should follow then?
You can work with a professional company like https://rsmconnect.com/managed-marketing-services/ where you can find marketing research as one of their services. They obviously link it to your customer base or key demographic and then tend to draw from their likes, desires and wants to then make a campaign you really get behind. It will involve things like email marketing, getting to know your customers, giving them questions, seeing what they react to, what they like most about your products and also what they like about your rivals. You never know, they might jump ship and you need to know what could be tempting them.
Do you know what is going on in the industry? You see tech giants like Google, Facebook, Tesla, Samsung and Microsoft constantly trying to one-up their rivals. But you almost never see them land a killer blow and it’s because the other company was somewhat aware of what was going on in terms of how far technology had gone. They know this because they perform industry research, helping them to see what their rivals are doing but also, what kinds of consumer trends are affecting the industry as a whole.
You can do industry research by reading reports from your rivals. Yes that is right, you should be reading their investor reports so you know what kind of areas they are doing product research in, how you could possibly undercut them regarding future tech releases, etc. but also, read reports from think tanks that monitor the industry, spot trends and stay in communication with thousands of businesses. The time of big surprises has almost vanished because everything is so interconnected. Samsung recently came out with a foldable phone, which is perhaps the first big surprise in the tech industry for about 10 years or so. They may not come along often but you don’t want to be the victim of their surprise when they do.
This brings us nicely along to competitor research. Do you think that rival smartphone companies to Samsung had any idea of their new foldable phone? We are willing to bet, they did. Industries are small places, everyone talks, everyone swaps information and rumors fly around. But it’s not enough to rely on hearsay, it’s vital that you invest in proper competitor research. Here are some key strategies.
*Look up the interviews they do. The CEO or important figure of your rival company will give some detailed interviews with journalists around the year. This could be when they go abroad, thinking they’re safe and the media back home won’t pay attention. Or it could be an interview with a financial news outlet, magazine or broadsheet such as the Wall Street Journal.
*Look at their contracts. Many governments and private companies might be employing the products and or services of your rival. Why? What do they provide better or worse than you to have won a contract that you might have been interested in?
*Read their annual report. Pure and simple, reading their annual report will give you insight to a lot of what they are doing in terms of their business model, hiring trends, research initiatives, product or service changes, investments etc.
We now smoothly move onto product research, something that many of us have done for our own business. But how do you do product research that is more effective than just looking internally? One way to do it is to ask customers where they would like to see improvement? Email marketing is a great tool for this, but going to meet them in person in shopping centers, out on the street or at business exhibitions also works.
Once again, looking at your rivals could be a good way to start. What kind of improvements are they making? Of course it is probably subjective because companies have issues with their products which they do not, but, it could still be useful to see. Maybe they are improving their materials, or perhaps they are using a different approach to their designs, it could all be noticeable in their reports. So purchasing their investor reports or speaking with investment firms about what kinds of things your rivals are doing, regarding product design is something that could be useful.
There are a myriad of ways to do great research, whether for your products, marketing, industry or competitors. Research is the bell that is sounded at the start of every new tech race, product design and marketing initiative. Get used to making great research reports and you’ll get used to staying ahead of the competition.