When it comes to ensuring your company’s future success, customers are key. Without them, you don’t have a business – at least not for very long.

The biggest problem facing many start-ups is that they simply don’t know what they customers want. They may have their own ideas of what they think the customers want, but those assumptions aren’t always the most accurate. In order to truly be successful and develop your small company into a steadily growing organization, you need to be thorough and diligent with your market research.

Researching your potential markets entails a number of different aspects and processes, from understanding exactly who your target customers and what they’re looking for from your product or service, to knowing how your existing competitors are already fulfilling those needs. Extensive and complete market research can be a hefty goal to aim for, but one that will ultimately save you from wasting precious time and valuable resources pushing your company and marketing efforts in the wrong direction.

The five most important areas of market research to focus on include:

1. Who is your ideal customer?

Effectively marketing your product or service requires knowing exactly who your customers are – what is your target customer’s age, sex, income, and level of education? If your target is other businesses, what’s their average revenue and how many employees do they have?

2. What is your customer looking for from a product or service like yours?

Which one of your customers’ specifics needs are you addressing, and how can you satisfy it? For example, the minivan was created to fill the needs of suburban families that wanted more storage space than a sedan could offer, but with more passenger capacity than a pickup truck - all without the bulkiness and inconvenience of a full-sized van.

3. When are your customers most likely to buy?

Knowing when your customers are most prone to purchasing what you have to offer can help immensely with allocating your human resources and marketing efforts. A florist will see the most business around holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, whereas a restaurant can expect to fill more seats on Friday night than on Tuesday afternoon.

4. How are customers likely to make a purchase or decision on services?

Are your customers likely to make an impulse decision to purchase your product or service, or is it something that will require significant consideration? Are they looking to make purchases online, or would they rather do so in-person?

5. Why would they patronize you instead of your competition?

What other companies are already in your market, and what unique advantages do they offer to customers? How can you grow your market share and provide a better solution than your competitors?

Taking the time to conduct comprehensive market research early on in your company’s development help prevent you from wasting precious resources following a faulty strategy that is likely to fail. If you don’t know who your customers are, how to meet their needs, and how to get their business, how can you expect to succeed? With meticulous research of your potential markets, you’re setting your company up for success rather than just blindly hoping for it.

Author's Bio: 

Tracey Fieber helps business owners simplify, automate, and grow their businesses and their lives. She believes in the power of hiring the right people, and helps her clients cultivate highly effective teams that allow them to focus on the work about which they're passionate. By nurturing business owners' strengths and holding them accountable for their own success, Tracey's leadership, communication, and coaching techniques help her clients take massive leaps forward