‘Market research’. The first time I heard the phrase, I couldn’t see how it had anything to do with writing. It sounded more of a retailers’ tool than something a writer could use.Note: While this article deals more with non-fiction articles, it can be applied to other forms of writing. Look up the phrase online, and you’ll get an enormous list of hits. The briefest definition I found is: ‘Market research is any organized effort to gather information about target markets or customers.’ (Thanks Wikipedia).A much more thorough explanation, which can be adapted to writing, is from ‘Entrepreneur’:Definition: The process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting information about a market, about a product or service to be offered for sale in that market, and about the past, present and potential customers for the product or service; research into the characteristics, spending habits, location and needs of your business’s target market, the industry as a whole, and the particular competitors you face.
However, although thorough, it still doesn’t show the distinctive market research writers need to do.First of all – This is my quick summary of market research for writers:’Study a potential publication to determine its individual characteristics.’The point of doing this research is to help you decide if your ideas and style will be a good fit for those of the publisher. This is a very important point, because it points to the whole reason why you would target this particular market.I’ll now adapt Entrepreneur’s definition to create my own, using bullet points to break it down more clearly.Market research is the process of studying a publication to find out:· What is it about? You can obviously determine its general subject area by looking at the cover – but, without study, you are less unlikely to notice how it may specialize within that subject area.· What makes this publication unique? This may be a particular product or service offered, a combination of subjects (such as gardening and cooking), or a definite slant on issues.
· What readership is this publication directed toward? This includes obvious things like locality, gender and age, and particular interests.· What level of reading ability is this publication aiming at?· How does this publication sell itself? How is it presented, in order to appeal to buyers? Is it gaudy? Does it rely on trite titles? What is the quality of the photographs? How much advertising does it use, and which customers is the advertising mostly directed towards?· Does it appear to be open to freelance writing, or more likely to be written entirely by its own staff?If you know why you need to do market research, your efforts are more likely to be on target and useful.
Market research is an important aspect of every business. It is not a one-time activity. Successful businesses conduct surveys on a regular basis to keep up and surpass its competitors. Irrespective of whether you intend to start a new business or planning to expand the existing one, market research is vital for understanding where your target segment lies and how sales can be increased.Market research covers a wide range of tasks. It can be applied across a variety of challenges faced during marketing such as knowing target customer preferences, brand positioning and sales strategy. Managers in particular make use of this information to successfully introduce new products or services keeping in mind the needs of the target consumers. However, this perception is always subjective. This is because of the fact that what a consumer may consider valuable today may be quite different from what they may value the next year. Rather than just speculating, it is wise to collect data, analyze and make an informed decision. The goal of market research is to provide both facts and direction that is needed for making important marketing decision.
1. Understand your target consumers:Why would your target consumers prefer to use your product over your competitors? What are their needs? What draws them? Is it the service that you provide, the uniqueness of your product or the prestige associated with usage of your product/service? Who influences their purchase decisions?2. Set specific targets:From the data that you have collected, you can set specific realistic targets concerning areas of sales, growth and introduction of new products and services.3. Formulate effective strategies:After conducting a thorough research, you would be able to make an informed decision about how to price your services, how to publicize and promote it, which mode of advertising could prove effectively such as radio, television or newspaper. It will allow you the opportunity to make an informed decision before initiating, building, establishing, diversifying or reducing business activity.4. Examine and find solution to business issues:Once you have narrowed down the problem, research will help you work out the root cause of the problem. For example, if you have noticed a fall in sales figures, you might have discovered that a new competitor has entered the scenario or a substitute has been discovered for your product.
5. Plan your business expansionMarket research will help you identify target consumers and test if they are receptive for a new product or service. For example, if you are looking to establish a new chain of clinics, you would have to survey the adjacent location in order to determine if your target consumer base resides there. If not, how do you plan to reach them?6. Identify new business opportunitiesMarket research helps identify new venues of opportunity. You may find a completely unchallenged market to showcase your services. You can identify changing trends in the market such as change in preferences, increase or decrease in target population concentration, etc.