Market research is an essential component of any business, large or small. It helps identify trends as well as gaps in products or services, and it keeps you up-to-date on anything going on within your industry that can affect sales. However, there are certainly some mistakes that you’ll want to avoid while doing market research. Here are nine of the most common ones.

1. Setting an Unrealistic Budget – You don’t want to spend too much money or too little money. First, see what research is already available and whether or not you can use what exists. If you can use what’s already there, you can save a lot of money. But, if the things you want to know aren’t out there yet, get bids to get an idea of the cost. Alternatively, you can use software like SurveyMonkey.com to conduct some of the research and only hire someone to help you decide the questions.

2. Not Having a Specific Plan of Action – Know what you want to research before starting. Devise some questions that you need answers to. Know why you want those answers and how it affects your business before even starting.

3. Not Understanding What Constitutes Good Sources – You can find anything to support your assumptions on the internet. But, not every website is a good source. Check up on anything that someone else says and realize there is a huge difference between an opinion and a fact.

4. Not Researching Your Competitors – It’s essential to know what your competitors are doing. You know the saying, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” No, your competitors are not enemies, but you do need to know what they are doing.

5. Not Understanding in Advance Who Your Target Audience is – If you don’t know who your target audience is, it will be difficult to ask the right questions during your research. Make the first research you do learning about your audience.

6. Spending too Little Time on Survey Creation – When developing questions for surveys, it’s important to understand how to come up with good questions in terms of phrasing, and the order of questions and the type of answers they’re allowed to provide.

7. Not Spreading the Word about Your Research – When either conducting research or putting the research to work, you’ll need to spread the word about it. If you want a lot of participation, spreading the word is essential. If you want to be seen as an expert, you need to act like one.

8. Not Getting More than One Source – One set of data is not enough to prove anything to you or anyone else. True scientific research requires multiple sets of data that prove your assumptions.

9. Not Using Your Research – There is no point in doing all the research if you’re not going to put it to work for you. Some people do the research, don’t like the answers, and move forward with their original plans anyway. This is a huge mistake.

Avoid these common market research mistakes if you want to have a long-term successful business. By simply educating yourself about the market you work in, it will pay big dividends by helping you avoid mistakes in marketing and stating ahead of the competition.

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