You are currently viewing How to do market research that won’t cost you a cent
Image by TheInvestorPost from Pixabay

How to do market research that won’t cost you a cent

Don’t know where to start when it comes to finding your customers’ pain points? Here are some examples and ideas

There are many methods of market research (such as quantitative and qualitative, using primary and secondary sources etc) that is beyond the scope of this article but market research is essentially gathering information about your audience’s or potential customer’s (or “market) needs and preferences. Proper market research is conducted by experienced marketing professionals who conduct their research using established methods and compiling pages of data of their finding. But you’re a small business, your budget is limited and when you’re working on a small scale with little to no budget, it’s obviously not practical. 

You may already know about traditional marketing methods such as online questionnaires, speaking to family and friends, and doing email mail-outs asking for people’s feedback but often people are just too busy to do questionnaires or even respond to mail-outs. 

So what does a small business owner do when they’re wanting to understand the market and “get the pulse” of your audience so to speak? Ideally one where you don’t have to pay a marketing agency to do and is absolutely free? Do your own research of course. But where to start? This article will give you some ideas of how to find customer pain points without time consuming surveys and spending time and money on poor-response mail-outs.

How do I do market research for a small business?

The best way to do market research is online. The internet is free and everyone is on it. You are also likely to find a very diverse range of opinions all without leaving your chair. 

These methods are also very helpful for those who do not yet have their business set up but looking to understand the state of the market they want to launch in.

What does customer pain points mean?

Simply put, the frustrations your potential market or audience are having or experiencing. Examples of customer pain points could be their frustrations about the lack of a particular product or service in the marketplace, or the problems they’re experiencing with a particular product or service.

How to do online market research

1. Competitor analysis

Go on your competitor’s social media and check out what their audience is saying on posts and the type of posts they are reacting to. Analyse the content that they’re putting out and see if you can do better. The saying “comparison is the death of joy” doesn’t ring true here. When you’re running a business, comparison can sometimes bring joy – if you use it to critically analyse your own business and identify where you can improve. 

2. Social media

This is easily accessible, and a great way to get an understanding of your market’s pain points. Pay attention to what they’re liking, what they’re sharing and what they’re commenting. 

For example, use the built-in analytics on Tik Tok, Linktree, YouTube, your Website (install Google analytics) to find out what posts resonate with your audience. Which posts got the most likes? Which posts got the most shares? Which reels got the most views? Analysing your posts, their content and when they were posted will give you information on what your audience likes to see. A lot of the time it’s a process of trial and error to find a formula that works for you.

3. Online forums

I personally use sites like Quora and Reddit as they provide a useful treasure trove of information for everything and anything. Quora and Reddit are online forums where a user looking for an answer can post a question, and anyone can provide answers. It has topics that cover practically everything under the sun, even obscure topics such as the right screw that would go well with a particular water filter. 

Online forums often show up on Google searches as users typically start their search using Google. Because online forums are a question-and-answer format, these forums’ pages typically find their way on page 1 of Google, so you don’t have to dig deep to find the information you need.

Reddit in particular, is organised into “sub-reddits” which are communities focused on specific topics. You can do a search for a specific community you would like to join, or start your own community. These communities are a gold mine of information and a great place to start if you’re researching a particular market, for example, the health and wellness market. There are plenty of subreddits dealing with different aspects of the health and wellness industry that provide a wealth of information on customer pain points and desires.

Open an account with either or both, select the topics you’d like to see on your newsfeed and away you go.

4. Amazon book reviews

This is another little-known place to do online market research. There are thousands of books on amazon that range in different topics for different demographics and audiences. Find books related to your business, and read the reviews on them. Here you’ll find what customers found useful, helpful, not so great and what they’d like to see that nobody else might be doing.

5. Facebook groups

Just like Reddit, Facebook also has a plethora of communities for all sorts of topics. Most people have Facebook so this is a great place to start. Type in the search box and find out if a community exists for the type of industry you’re doing business in, and join those groups. 

The key is to bring value to these communities. Don’t just advertise your business, but be helpful. Answer questions and interact with people with the goal of being helpful, NOT selling or spruiking your business, and you will build trust with the community. 

Often your ideal customers are in this community so you want to build rapport with people and build trust with them. You don’t want them to see you as a nuisance just there to spruik your business – nobody wants to be sold to, after all. But if you offer help and are participating in discussions, people will see you as someone who they can trust, and once that trust is established, you’ll be able to ask the right questions and obtain valuable market feedback that way.

Another good thing about Facebook is you can use the voting function to create a simple one question survey to gauge your audience’s main pain point or understand their main bug bear. What I find about Facebook voting is it can be fun and you’ll find many people like to offer their opinions and frustrations. Just remember to keep the question simple and to the point, allow respondents to add their own answer and follow up with a post to thank people for voting and even respond personally to those who offer useful feedback.

6. Google

Keyword research is one of the best ways to do research. Start typing any word or phrase in the Google search box and it comes up with a list of suggestions. These suggestions will give you an idea of what people are searching for. This is valuable insight into what people want to know and why. Then click on any of those suggestions and find out what websites Google lists in the first page to answer those queries. This will give insight into your competitors and how they are addressing these queries.

google search with search suggestions