Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Agility, success and responsiveness is surely the holy grail when it comes to business. Maintaining momentum comes from having a clear and current insight into the market forces beyond your business. Consistent and regular tracking of your industry is the number one way to be able to read and respond to the market to continue sustainable growth. However, market research is often one of those things that falls off the priority list along with that hastily drafted business plan that’s sitting somewhere at the bottom of your filing cabinet (more on THAT later) Like your business plan, market reviews are not a set and forget task.
Market research doesn’t have to be huge, extensive and exhausting. Undertaking even the bare bones of a process will allow you to create a clear roadmap across the year, quarter and months ahead. The clear insights and understandings that come with market research enables you to confidently price your services and products and promote them appropriately and effectively. You can create new services and revenue streams and put less performing ones on the back burner. You can uncover new opportunities and test new ideas- all the fun stuff that puts the stupefying “business on usual” on ice.
Key metrics to keep an eye on are the relevant economic and demographic factors that are likely to have an impact on your product and service sales. Basically, you want to know about any changes to regulations or changes in attitudes to your services and products, such as size, trends, beliefs and competitor marketing, as well as overall economic forecasts. Your best bet for uncovering these without undertaking a PhD-worthy research project is not just Google, but your industry association. As your peak body, they are on top of all the legislative changes and their potential impacts on your industry- good and bad. They are also often great connectors with events that bring you together with your colleagues to exchange war stories (or scope out the competition) and they have extensive lists of resources for you to draw upon, such as white papers and media releases, that keep abreast on current findings around your offerings.
Of course, the other essential stockpile of trends and insights are your existing and former client and customers. You can easily access their views simply by asking them. One of our clients sends an annual community survey to both the people they’ve  worked with over the previous eighteen months, as well as their general audience via their mailing list and social media platforms. They ask no more than five questions and use it as an opportunity to gauge interest in potential services and as a way to retire others. The simple act of seeking views in this manner has actually become an effective marketing strategy by accident - people like being asked their opinion and, in an extremely competitive market, this client remains front of mind when their clients need the services they provide.
Having clear and current tracking processes in place for your industry allows you to read the future- maybe not quite Michael J Fox style, but you’ll be in an enviable position to meet the needs of both your customers and clients as well as the market. It will also keep your business plan an active, living document to guide your success 😊, not just that ‘thing’ you pulled together for the bank many moons ago. For support with creating a business plan that works for you, including the all-important market research strategy to keep you agile and responsive, please reach out.