Cheap Market Research Techniques for Any Budget

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Guerrilla Marketing" by Jay Conrad Levinson. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Looking for some cheap market research techniques? Which low-cost techniques work the best?

According to bestselling author Jay Conrad Levinson, the more you understand your target market, the easier you’ll find it to appeal to these customers and influence their purchasing decisions. Levinson claims that you don’t need to spend a lot on your research to get good results.

Read on for an overview of some inexpensive market research techniques, according to Levinson.

Inexpensive Market Research Techniques

Many businesses spend vast amounts researching ways to reach and appeal to their target market. Jay Conrad Levinson claims that, while these paid market research techniques do provide useful data, there are cheaper ways to find the information required to understand your target market. 

Levinson suggests three low-cost techniques to research your target market:

  • Refer to research reports, customer opinion polls, and industry studies: Find these online or at your local library.
  • Survey existing and potential customers: Prepare questionnaires and entice responses by offering discounted products and services or free gifts.
  • Search online for additional information: Visit chat rooms, competitor websites, and online marketplaces to gain additional insights about your target market.

However, one drawback of relying on these low-cost market research techniques is that they take more time. Therefore, Levinson suggests that you switch to paid research methods once your budget accommodates them.

Adding to Levinson’s Techniques

Marketing experts expand on Levinson’s techniques with in-depth advice to help you research your target market and competitors.

Implement the following two strategies to gather relevant data regarding market demand for your product or service: Use SEO tools to analyze how many people are searching for similar products and services to yours and what businesses and distribution channels they use to fulfill their needs. Sign up for social listening tools and make use of analytical reports to understand how much demand there is for the specific benefits you’re offering.

Many businesses rely on the market research techniques mentioned above to inspire new marketing campaigns. For example, The Body Shop tracked online conversations to learn more about customer preferences. Discovering that customers cared about refillable products inspired them to launch a global refill program that appeals to eco and value-conscious customers.

Additionally, marketing experts suggest four market research techniques to learn more about your competitors:

Attend professional conferences and trade shows: Visit competitors’ booths to see what they offer and how they interact with customers.

Analyze their website and SEO strategy: In addition to visiting competitors’ websites, use SEO tools to analyze the keywords and Adwords they’re buying, their site traffic, and their website ranking.

Examine their social media presence: Find out what platform they use, the type of content they post and how often they share it, how many followers they have, and how responsive they are to customer queries and concerns.

Sign up for their newsletter: This will give you in-depth knowledge of their email marketing strategy—what kind of content they send and how often.

Use these market research techniques to determine how you can convince customers that your product or service is superior to all other offers in the market. For example, Apple’s competitive strategy includes pricing products higher than the competition—implying that Apple products are superior to what other electronics companies offer. This approach effectively targets customers who must have the “best” product no matter the price.

Cheap Market Research Techniques for Any Budget

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  • Why you don't need expensive mass-media marketing campaigns
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  • How to define your target market and keep costs low

Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

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