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How to Conduct Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Market Research

Market Research for Home Businesses or Small Businesses


woman with blank poster

Choiceboard Marketing Lets Customers Write the Ads

© Theodor38 | Dreamstime.com

Most home businesses and small businesses start out with a product or service that is the basis for what they offer to consumers. Having a product or a service well before the business even begins to think about positioning their offering is very common with businesses that need to rely on Do-It-Yourself (DIY) marketing and advertising. And if a business needs to conduct its own marketing and advertising, the chances are very strong that it will also need to conduct its own market research.

How does a small business or home business begin DIY market research?

All marketing strategy begins with STP. Naturally, the STP reference is not the car engine additive, but the idea of a “clean, fast start” does apply. STP stands for Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning.

What is Positioning? Positioning is the process of designing a business offering (the product or service sold or provided) and a business image (logo or brand) so that it occupies a distinct place in the minds of consumers. The end product of the positioning process is a value proposition.

What is a Value Proposition? A value proposition is a cogent (brief and clear) reason why consumers in the target market should buy the product or service.

What are Examples of Value Propositions?

  • Pizza shop value proposition = speedy delivery, crust options, & great taste
  • Family car value proposition – safety, durability, easy to clean
  • Sunscreen value proposition – effective, easy to use, free of undesirable chemicals

How Do I Figure Out the Best Positioning for My Product or Service?

Recognize that the goal of positioning is to position your product or service in the mind of the consumer. Positioning is not something that a marketer does to the product or service. The same is true for differentiation. A product or service does not differentiated. The consumer does the differentiation – in their mind – by the way they perceive your product or service.

Distinctive Positions of Well-known Products or Services

  • Position of Coca-Cola = largest soft-drink company in the world.
  • Position of Hertz = largest auto-rental agency in the world
  • Position of Porsche = one of the best sports cars in the world

Do the Market Research

In your shop or online, put up a choiceboard that your customers can use to indicate why they choice your product or service. Ask your customers: "What do you like best about _____ [your product or service]?" "Why are you buying ____ [your product or service] today?" Collect the data for a month and then analyze the results. What do most of your customers say? Offer something in return. Offer a small discount, punch card, or coupon. Now, use this information to help focus or change up your advertising.

Don’t try to promote too many ideas about your product or service at once. Choose one attribute about your product or service to promote. This central attribute is the basis of your unique selling proposition (USP).

What is a Unique Selling Proposition?

A unique selling proposition is a single benefit that a product or service offers to its customers. A unique selling position says to consumers that the brand, product, or service is number one and offers the best in its category.

What are Examples of Unique Selling Propositions (USP)?

Focusing on a single benefit makes it easier to consistently communicate about a product or service. A consistent positioning message makes it easier to communicate with the target market. Trying to claim too many benefits of a product or service will risk creating positioning that is vague, confused, or doubtful.

Do the Market Research

Use the data you gathered on the choiceboard to set up a poll. If you have a website, the poll can be set up in a sidebar. Unlike the choiceboard (where you did not provide a menu of choices, the poll must give three to four benefits. The poll needs to be set up so that consumers can only make one choice.

If you will be conducting the poll in your shop or store, you can use a scatterplot format to collect data. Set up a large poster (on a sturdy easel or a portable dry board or chalk board) where customers can use markers to indicate their choices. The easiest way is to divide the poster into four sections by drawing a vertical line and a horizontal line that go from edge to edge. This creates four quadrants. Label each quadrant with one of the choices in the poll. As you will see, the quadrant with the most marks (Xs or stars or hashmarks) is the most popular benefit attracting your customers.

Some customers will be tend to mark in a quadrant where other customers have already put a mark. This is okay. The social influence that happens with this process is similar to the dynamics of a focus group. People participating in a focus group listen to and see the responses and choices that the other focus group members make. This is similar, also, to the influencing that happens on social media network when people talk about brands, products, and services. Both the choiceboard and the scatterplot are good low-cost, entry-level market research techniques. And both offer a platform upon which deeper and more disciplined research can take place.

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