Smaller companies, especially start-ups, often face challenges because they lack financial security or specialist resources such as research leads. To make matters worse, when it comes to cutting costs, it’s the marketing and research budgets that are frequently the first to be reduced. Fortunately, however, the range of cost-effective tools now available should mean a lack of money and experience is no longer an excuse for even the smallest company to not conduct market research.
Across this industry, DIY (i.e. do it yourself) research tools are accessible, widespread, and sometimes even free! From designing a survey for your customers to programs for data report visualizations, there are automated programs online for you to use. However, as with any DIY project, there is still a number of things you need to think about when conducting your own market research.
With the right DIY tools, you don’t need to hire a research company or wait several months for results. Online research platforms mean the various tools and resources are at your fingertips—all you require is a bit of patience, time, and effort to create your own research. Thankfully, there are loads of different examples to help you to get started.
Further, many organisations who work in the DIY research space are now moving into a SaaS (i.e. software as a service) type of model. This means they can offer their services and tools at cost-effective prices and speed.
Some things are ready for you already
Many survey tools now provide ready-made templates for different industries and scenarios, as well as automated reporting; they can also offer preselected panels for which you can pay online. All these companies have also invested a lot of money into the user experience, so it is simple and easy to conduct your own research in one place.
It can be cheaper (sometimes)
Did you notice the “sometimes” in brackets above? This qualifier is because you do have to take your time with DIY research, and you also have to think about what you really want to understand from your target audience. Without this patience or nuance, you could end up rushing the process and ultimately needing to spend more money to fix the issues you caused.
When organizations or individuals know what they would like to understand, DIY market research can actually provide plenty of opportunities to be creative at a low price. The question is: Do you truly know what you’re looking for?
Being a step in front of your competitors
Not conducting proper market research is one of the main reasons why so many start-ups fail in their first five years. This is because they haven’t bothered to truly understand the audience to whom they wish to sell. Of course, the fact that not everyone conducts market research can be an advantage for you. To be honest, even thinking about conducting market research puts you a step forward of your competitors who don’t.
The information and insights you can gain from conducting your own market research will help you more even more steps ahead of your competition, if you frame your approach correctly. It’s the difference between a company that conducts market research to understand consumer thoughts and opinions… and a company that just goes off on a hunch or a rough idea.
More and more vendor partnerships are now being brokered in the DIY space, and the possibilities continue to be exciting as services and tools evolve.
For small companies (or even larger ones with limited budgets), it is important to remember that just because many tools are now automated, you need not rush through the process to find your answer. In fact, it actually means you need to take the same amount of time as you would have done if there was no automation—the speed will come in to play when you are collecting the data and then finding out the results that matter to you.
However, despite all the possibilities associated with DIY research, it should still ultimately be viewed as a complement to traditional full-service research. DIY is a great starting point and offers all the advantages mentioned above, but make sure you do not lose sight of your ultimate goal in exchange for using DIY methods.
About JakeJake Pryszlak, commonly known as the Research Geek, is a 3-time award-winning market researcher, blogger and speaker. He’s a current Forbes columnist who is active across a plethora of social media channels. His aim is to share his market research knowledge with others in the industry. You can find his blog and social media channels here.