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How to Improve Your Product When You Can’t Afford Market Research

For any business, big or small, it pays to know the market you’re selling in. Whether you’re looking to assess market demand before a big product release or simply trying to demystify sectors in customer spending, market research can go a long way in helping you and your business understand customer needs and expectations.

But for small businesses, market research might seem daunting. You may think it’s a time-consuming and costly investment, reserved for larger companies with bottomless research and development funds. That’s why when small businesses develop an idea, whether it’s a product or a service, often market research is the last thing on their mind. Because of restrictions on time or resources, doing market research or working with marketing research firms can be overwhelming to any SMB.

If you haven’t done any market research before, it can be tempting to skip the process and dive right into product development. But the truth of the matter is, there’s a lot of independent research you can do on your own –– without much budget or training. It all starts with leveraging your most undervalued asset in the product development process: your customers.

Getting customers involved in the product development process right from the start can provide huge benefits to product development managers and teams. Once you’re genuinely listening, it’s easy to find customer feedback that’s valuable to helping you understand your market’s needs. After all, who knows your product better than the people who use it most?

In this article, we’ll take a look at how to conduct market research on a low budget in order to build better products –– and all by simply listening to your customers.

Tap Into Customer Channels

You can start conducting simple market research by joining the channels your customers are already using to talk to you. To get access to customer insights, listen in on where they’re already discussing their experiences, like social media, community forums, and feedback platforms such as Innercircle.

Listening in helps you ensure you’re not just focusing on the customers you’re already talking to, but helps you include outliers who may not have a voice yet yet within your organization. Developing a culture of listening to customers of all shapes and sizes can glean long-term rewards for your business, and your product teams can benefit immensely from a user-centered approach to product design and development.

Identify Language Patterns

After identifying the channels your customers use most, make sure you’re reading between the lines. From Instagram to Reddit, any digital platform where customers are actively discussing your product can provide you with big clues as to where your target market is standing –– and wanting.

Research consistently shows that customers tend to be more honest online than in person. By listening in for language patterns, it can be easy to pinpoint feature requests, usability issues, or competitor frustrations that can be key to creating market differentiation and an out-of-this-world product experience.

Pay Attention to Context

Listening to customers early on is crucial to protecting time, money and valuable company resources. When setting out to build any product or service, customers are invaluable to providing feedback within context.

As end-users for your business’s core offering, they’re on the front lines of your product’s customer experience and their feedback can impact anything from product design to feature usability. In the best-case scenario, potential or existing customers can provide insights that impact product roadmaps, saving you costs and resources in the long-run.

While companies work hard building enticing new product features and tools, businesses who truly listen to their customer feedback are sure to build tools their users actually need –– strengthening customer retention and loyalty.


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