As a small business owner, you likely spend most of your day thinking about your customers. You may consider how many customers you have, what and how much they buy, and how to get new customers. Customers are the key to any business’s success, and they ultimately determine if your business grows or shutters to a close. Since your customers are the lifeline to any business, it’s crucial to learn more about them. I recommend you start your customer discovery experience through market research.

Market research doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated. You don’t need to buy a subscription to an expensive database or spend time on focus groups. If you operate a business in Wyoming, it can be nearly pain-free. The Wyoming SBDC’s Market Research Center provides free research services to businesses throughout the state. One of the key topics the Market Research Center tackles is target audience or customer discovery. Let’s look at a few ways the Market Research Center can help you learn more about your customers:

  •   Demographics: Demographics and psychographics are best suited for businesses that sell directly to consumers. Demographics are the characteristics like income, gender, and age that make up your target market. This information may seem basic but it can be helpful to see who resides in your local area. For example, the area around a restaurant may show a large number of young families, so kids’ menus and a family-friendly atmosphere may be desirable. An area’s median income could also help you determine prices.
  •   Psychographics: Psychographics go beyond the basics to look at your customer’s behavior. What are the things your customers do for fun? What are their opinions, attitudes, and beliefs? This information may seem irrelevant, but psychographic information is valuable for creating an effective marketing strategy. Let’s say the psychographic segments reveal your target audience is more likely to attend baseball games and listen to local radio stations. You now have two new data-driven marketing channels to explore. You could advertise on the radio or buy a sign at the baseball field. Psychographics allow you to save time and money by narrowing the scope of your marketing. Why waste your limited time and money on every social media platform and advertising opportunity?
  •   Industry reports and trends: Industry research shows what is happening in the overall economy and with businesses like yours. National industry data can be beneficial for benchmarking your business against competitors, and it can also tell you about your customers. Industry research firms like IBISWorld report which target markets make up the highest share of revenue. You may assume wholesalers are your primary target audience, but the national data estimates reveal other businesses in your industry are earning a quarter of their total revenue from selling direct to customers.

Market research is a vast and ever-growing field, so this is only a glimpse of what market research is and how it can improve your business. Register for the upcoming webinar How to Use Market Research to Find and Reach Your Ideal Customers on May 11 at 2 PM to learn more.

Data is available for nearly every business in every stage of growth. If you have market research questions, the Market Research Center is available to help. Reach out to your regional advisor today to submit a market research request and to receive no-cost advising on your business.

About the Author: Kayley has made a home in Laramie, Wyoming after primarily working in higher education in Georgia. Kayley is passionate about researching for the wide variety of clients served by the Wyoming SBDC Network’s Market Research Center. The Center specializes in providing any Wyoming business with access to advanced marketing information that was previously available only to a few of the largest corporations. Her expertise includes digital marketing and social media. When she is not in the office, Kayley enjoys reading and exploring the state with her family.

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