2013_jan_27telescopeOnce you conduct your market research and create a customer profile, you’re far from done. Conditions and people are constantly changing and market research is an ongoing process. If your message doesn’t keep up with the times, it can become irrelevant quickly. A product that was perfectly matched to your target market one month ago may become passé the next.

Conduct Regular Market Research

Market research isn’t a one-shot deal. You have to keep doing it on a consistent basis. Whatever methods you use to conduct research, work them into your regular schedule. Don’t just conduct research when you have a new product to launch or a problem with your sales. Make it part of your regular business operations even if you have no immediate need for it.

Improve Your Offerings

One reason to continually research is to offer improved products and services to your customers, often exceeding their expectations. Companies that stay in touch with their audience and seek feedback discover better ways to help them solve their problems. You improve your knowledge of your market’s tastes, likes, needs and wants every time you do more research.

Keep in Touch Online

You don’t want to get out of touch with your target market. You need to keep the channels of communication open and, fortunately, the Internet offers a plethora of ways to do that which are cheap, easy, and fast. These include:

  • Social Media. Maintain a strong social media presence and interact daily with your fans and followers.
  • Blogging. Regularly write a company blog and try to get interaction and conversation going among readers.
  • Online Surveys. Conduct surveys and analyze results on a regular basis.
  • Feedback Forms. Everywhere possible, give your customers a feedback form where they can leave an anonymous comment about your services.
  • Online Forums. Keep abreast of what’s going on among your customers and in your industry by spending time on forums related to your business.

Sign up for Alerts

A good way to get feedback whenever someone leaves it is to sign up for online alerts. One free program that does this is Google Alerts. Whenever your business’s name appears anywhere online, you’ll get an email telling you. The email will contain a link so that you can go directly to the website where you’ve been mentioned. Whenever someone says anything about you, whether good or bad, you’ll know it. This is very valuable feedback; a bad listing tells you what you need to improve. Alerts also give you the heads-up when you need to do some damage control from a negative mention.

Don’t Make Assumptions

When businesses fail to conduct ongoing market research, they make one of the deadliest assumptions possible. They assume that their market’s tastes won’t change over time and their products will always continue to be in demand. On the other hand, companies that keep their ears open stay in the loop and can change with the times. When it comes to marketing, never assume and never just “hope” you’ll get it right. Base your marketing decisions on hard data collected directly from your target market.