Whether you decide to use the survey approach or opt for focus groups, keep these guidelines in mind:
1. Clarify your research objectives, and decide on a reasonable budget. Staying on target is important, and a budget will help you keep the scope of the project in sight.
2. Decide whether you will do the research or hire a professional. By doing some homework and planning carefully, entrepreneurs can accomplish this kind of research on a small scale. If you feel uncertain about the process, or are simply too busy to run the operation yourself, contact your local chamber of commerce for recommendations about firms or individuals who can conduct market research for smaller companies or ask your area university or community college for assistance and advice.
3. Ask for relevant information. If you're looking for feedback having to do with a particular issue, age group, location, product line and so on, customize your questions to target the information you need.
No matter what kind of market research you conduct, none of the feedback will be worth a hoot if you disregard the responses and don't apply what you learn. After all, the real excitement in doing research comes from making a genuine discovery--something you didn't expect or hadn't anticipated. This kind of revelation can help you plan the future with a lot more accuracy.
Leann Anderson is the owner of Anderson Business Resources, a Greeley, Colorado, company specializing in customer service, marketing and business etiquette. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org