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Research your customer

Your research is like the opening shot of a film – first you go wide and get a sense of the overall market you're in, and then you focus in on the characters – your customers. Research is the key step in starting a successful business and plays a crucial role in helping you identify your target market.

Use the steps listed below to help you:

  • define your problem
  • plan
  • investigate
  • gather and interpret information
  • decide your marketing strategies

1. What do you need to find out?

  • Market size – how many other businesses are selling what I'm selling?
  • Your buying customers – how often do they use this service?
  • Best place to sell your products – where and how do your customers prefer to buy?

Tools to help

  • Set clear goals and achieve success by writing a business plan.
  • Market research gathers and analyses information to help you identify and define marketing opportunities and problems, and generate sales.
  • Investigate the market to find and target your customers.

2. Examine published data

Journals, marketing magazines, government reports, IBISworld and the Australian Bureau of Statistics provide publications and web pages with industry data.

Tools to help

3. Discover your customers' needs and gather your data

Your marketing is only as effective as your understanding of your customers. Draw specific conclusions about your customers' needs by understanding their attitudes and behaviours:

  • Hold focus groups and conducting in-depth interviews – qualitative information.
  • Create surveys and questionnaires – quantitative information.

Get local, get talking!

  • Sit outside a competitor's shop.
  • Talk to rival employees.
  • Talk to real potential customers.

Tools to help

4. What's the research telling you?

  • Analyse your data to determine your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Identify trends and opportunities for growth.
  • Draw your conclusions.