Market research can help you develop a profile of your ideal customer so you can create more precise business and marketing strategies that connect people to the products or services best suited to them. To do this, you need to gather and analyze data about your target audience.
Quantitative vs. Qualitative Data
There are two types of data – quantitative and qualitative. Both types of data are essential to creating an accurate picture of your target market.
Quantitative data is information about quantities; that is, information that can be measured. Quantitative data looks at the big picture by taking a large sample of people and then using that sample to look at trends. Quantitative research yields statistical results. Quantitative research methods include surveys, focus groups, interviews, online polls, and systematic observations.
Qualitative research is a more in-depth, objective approach where you interact with your sample audience that provides valuable information you do not get with quantitative studies. It deals in ideas, opinions, motivations, impressions, images, and feelings rather than in numbers. Examples of qualitative methods are focus groups/group discussions, individual interviews, and projective techniques such as role-playing.
Qualitative data describes; quantitative data is defines.
Your Target Market Profile
The goal of your market research is to create a profile of your ideal customer. The profile needs to be as complete as possible and should include not only demographic and geographic information but also psychographic information. It should be a representation of their goals and behaviors - how do people in your market use your products or services; their attitudes - how do they see themselves; and their skills, goals, challenges, and values.
Creating Your Target Market Profile or Audience Persona
After completing your research, narrow the list of traits you have discovered about your audience down to the top ten or twelve you consider the most important. It's a good idea to create three or four personas to represent your market, which should cover the majority of your customers. If you later feel your marketing methods are not working, you can reconsider some of the details and traits.
Your audience persona is not just list of traits - it is a picture of your ideal customer. The added benefit of creating a personal profile is that you can write your sales copy as if you were speaking directly to someone face-to-face.
Researching your target market is a process of discovery. Begin your research by assuming you know nothing about your audience; don't make assumptions. You need to be objective and let the data inform you. Rely on your data and not on guesswork. Some of the things you learn will surprise you.