Market Research on the Cheap

Working people didn’t spend 20% of their annual income on Encyclopedia sets because some door to door salesman tricked them into thinking how nice it would be to own a bunch of books. People paid high prices for those gold bound Encyclopedias because they wanted to feel like good parents who were giving their offspring an advantage.

Emotions and the desires that spring from those emotions are the reason that people buy almost everything. A successful business understands the buying emotions and the desires of its customers, and finds a way to satisfy them.

Master salesman will tell you that it is impossible to create a need for a product or service that will not plainly satisfy what people want. Some business schools still teach that wants and needs can be created with slick marketing. How little those academics know about human nature.

The purpose of market research is to know your customer, to unravel the bundle of human emotions and find out what your potential customers really want.

Here are three ways that you can do market research on the cheap. Just because the research method is online does not mean that it cannot also be applied to an off-line business.

1. Keyword Analysis. Everyday people type queries into Google and the other search engines on an almost infinite variety of topics. There are free keyword research tools offered by Google and Microsoft, among others, that will return hundreds or results of the exact phrases that people used to find out more about any topic.

Your job as a market research analyst is to look behind the words and phrases that people use to search. Do some phrases have a greater sense of urgency than others? Are some searches more specific about the nature of a problem?

It will take a little practice, but after a while you can develop a sense of what people really want from the keyword phrases they use when they search on the Internet.

2. Active Forums. There are online forums or communities on thousands of different topics where strangers get together and talk about a common problem with more frankness and honestly then they probably would in person. Anonymity has its virtue.

You would spend thousands of dollars to do market research with a focus group. You can do nearly the same thing for free with online forums.

3. The Competitions’ Sales Letters. A professionally written sales letter will deliberately target buying emotions. Top copywriters get paid thousands of dollars to write those sales letters. You can take advantage of your competitor’s research and the copywriter’s expertise by studying the well written sales letter to identify and understand those dominant buying emotions.