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Writing a strategic marketing plan will set the pace for your new business. Your marketing plan creates the plan-of-attack for your company’s entry into a marketplace. For new businesses, you need to be researching as much as you are breathing.

So. Research. I know, I know, it’s probably the least glamorous aspect of becoming a business mogul. But, no entrepreneur ever ruled the marketplace without learning about their industry. The point of research is market segmentation.

What is market segmentation? I’ll tell you. It’s no trick really. You’re just grouping similar people or peoples’ characteristics together who would buy from you. To figure that out, we need data. And you guessed it, we get data from research. If you’re reading this then you’ve already started your research process. So, let’s dig deeper with effective researching techniques and robust resources to gather our data.

First, before we run off spouting out surveys and direct mailers, let’s check the internet. It’s neat and practical! Info that you can find publicly, from commercial research companies, and educational institutes is called Secondary Research. Woah, make way for the scientist.

**Disclaimer: Information on or from the internet may be 100% wrong (even this disclaimer)**

Market Research with Google WellSo, it’s important that you know how to search the internet like a champ. Check out the Googlerrific infographic to your left that shows you how to hunt down the good stuff.

Check it out, you’re a internet-searching pro now!

<non sequitur alert> Here are some secondary research resources.

Secondary Research

Public Research – U.S. Census Bureau  and  USA.gov are great for researching polls that may be directly related to your segment. That is if you’re not creating a new market, rather launching into a developed market.

You can find an abundance of public speeches, documents, and reports at the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Doesn’t matter which side you vote, the White House will always be a great resource of information.

U.S. Global Change Research Program – Go as far looking into global climate changes. Weather is usually relevant for businesses. Read up on global change in research programs set forward through U.S. initiatives.

Bureau of Labor Statistics is always a great way to figure out what your potential industry’s employment patterns are like. You can see wages, demographics, and political standings.

Market Research Companies – They usually require a fee, but may save you valuable time as opposed to search commercial research and trade associations. Companies like BrainJuicerVision CriticalGFK, rate highly.

Educational Research – Surprisingly, educational institutes are under utilized yet typically conduct more informational research than most business industries. Hello people, what else is school for? RESEARCH. Be smart, take advantage of them.

Texas Tech University has a great medical and engineering research programs. You can search their e-Journals here too! SMU has the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. It is the 13th Presidential Library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration, a Federal agency.

After you’ve drained the internet of all of it’s glorious resources, it’s time to conduct your own research! This is called Primary Research; qualitative and quantitative data that you’ve created.

Primary Research

Here are some techniques and expected costs attached.

Direct Mail – This means sending surveys via “Snail Mail” with a return address. It can be on the inconvenient side time and money-wise for you and your pool of potential participants.

But, if it’s likely to be useful (research if it is), then include a professional cover letter that tells the participant exactly what you need. Keep the questions short and don’t waste anyone’s time. Follow up in two weeks with paid-postage and self-addressed envelope. Costs include: postage, envelopes, printing of questionnaire and cover letter, your time, and incentives for participation.

Email Survey – This is good for the survey novice. Quicker return on results and less costly. But, easily ignored by people. SurveyMonkey or MailChimp  allows you to conduct your own online market research.

Obviously these email research companies have a fascination with primates. But, hey, it works. Remember to keep your questions brief, don’t ask loaded questions that will confuse people, and do not spam them with follow-ups. Send one follow-up email after two weeks. Lastly, be courteous, they’re volunteering their time to help you.

If you don’t have the time to conduct it yourself, marketing agencies can easily conduct surveys for you while compiling an organized market report with an marketing strategy ready for execution.

Survey Communities – Sites like I-Say are great place to research how other’s are conducting surveys before launching your own. According to them, you, “Take surveys, share your opinions and choose your rewards.” Another good point right there! Be sure to offer your survey takers a reward. People love free stuff.

 Phone Survey  – These can be tricky. Flex your inner salesman. Use this simple pitch. “Hello, my name is [Name] and I’m with [Organization] we [Organization’s Mission Statement]. We are conducting a survey. Do you have a few minutes to answer 3 questions?” Be quick. Be clear. Be polite.

Cost generally include the interviewer’s fee, phone charges, preparation of the questionnaire, cost of researcher time, and the analysis and presentation of the results of the questioning.

Personal Interview – Awesome way to gather qualitative research. You get body language and emotional opinions. But, it takes a lot of time to set it up. Also, 3x more costly than phone interviews. Costs include the printing of questionnaires and prompt cards if needed, the incentives used, the interviewer’s fee and expenses, cost of researcher time, and analysis and presentation.

There’s no excuse now why you won’t learn oodles about your audience. I hope these techniques and resources help you in your journey to becoming the next self-made success story. If you’d like to take your current marketing plan to the next level, drop us a line in our inbox at info@agencyentourage.com. We’re here to help you learn!

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