Market Research is a mysterious term for many. It’s used as a catch-all for various research types that inform how firms make decisions, capture work, and plan for the future. So what is it? Why do I need it? Where do I find this unicorn? And what do I do with it? Keep reading for new thinking about market research and ways you can start finding the information your firm needs immediately to inform sustainable growth and your business development plan.
Defining Market Research.
In the simplest (and most effective) terms, market research is simply the answer to a question that informs action with a defendable “why.” Let’s break this down; what does that actually mean?
Every business is looking to grow in some capacity (we’ll look at growth more in depth shortly). That growth might be as broad as brand awareness, or it could be as complex as innovation within the A/E/C world. There’s no RIGHT answer to what growth looks like for your company. The most important factor is that your entire workforce is on board with what type of growth you’re working towards. (Visioning is an important piece to this puzzle).
Once it’s clear what type of growth your company is looking for, you have to ensure you’re asking the right questions within your Market Research and then gathering that data to make informed decisions concerning your business development plan.
How do I know what questions to ask within my Market Research?
Before we jump into this, it’s important to understand your firm’s overall goals. What type of growth does your vision call for?
Diego Rodriguez and Ryan Jacoby from IDEO designed a simple matrix to show organizations ways to grow. You can check out the matrix below, and identify where your business falls on this matrix:
Once you understand where you fall within the matrix, here are some questions to consider answering within your Market Research:
If your business is managing existing users and existing offers ask yourself;
Are we capturing our share of work in this market?
Is this a growing market?
How is our industry innovating its services?
What is the future of the market and our services?
Looking to extend new offers to existing users? Appropriate Market Research questions might be;
What are adjacent services that make sense for us to offer?
Identify the services are our clients asking for.
What is the future of the market and THAT service?
Maybe you’re ready to adapt existing offers to new users? Ask;
Are there potential clients within our existing sectors/geographies?
Are there potential clients who are new to buying our services?
Do we need to package our services differently to resonate with the market?
How do we enter?
Or, perhaps your firm is ready to offer brand new services to a new client base. Some questions to ask include;
What are the big disruptors?
Once you’ve identified where your business falls on the growth matrix and the appropriate questions to ask – it’s time to start collecting data. But how do you know what type of research to conduct?
Identifying Appropriate Market Research Types
Don’t allow Market Research to overwhelm you. You’re probably already conducting research through client surveys/interviews, competitive analysis, and/or go/no-go decision making. Now, it’s just a matter of harnessing that data to inform your growth or business development plan.
The following list is not exhaustive but can give your firm a framework for conducting relevant Market Research based on where it falls within the growth matrix.
Relevant Research Types based on Growth Stages
Manage (incremental): Client Survey, Competitor Analysis, Market Sizing, Disruptor Watch
Extend (evolution): Client Surveys, Competitor Analysis, Market Sizing, Disruptor Watch
Adapt (evolution): Market Size (and Growth), Persona Development, Competitor Identification and Analysis, Strategic Partner Identification
Create (revolution): High-Level Market Trends, Potential disruptors
Gathering and analyzing this data will help your firm make informed growth and business development plans that are easily defendable with quantifiable data. And as data changes/more data becomes available (as it will) your firm can easily tweak its plan to effectively serve customers and potential customers in a meaningful way.
What types of market research is your firm already participating in? I’d love to know in the comments section!
If you’re ready to stand out from the flock by harnessing market research data to inform your growth and business development plan I’d love to help you. Tap here to schedule a time to chat.
The only thing constant in life and business is change – but market research can help you stay AHEAD of that change and win work differently.