How do you make pricing decisions? How do you decide what new app to develop? How do you choose what country to focus your investments in? When did you last talk to your current and target customers about what they think about you and your competition?
Do you make these important decisions based on a “feeling”, by asking your staff, or by talking to a handful of customers? That is how many/most small technology businesses make these key decisions that have dramatic impact on future sales growth and profitability.
There is a better way. You can and should get professional research help. Trying to do quantitative and qualitative research on your own is full of pitfalls – as you and your team will always be limited by your preconceptions and lack of research expertise.
How much data analysis expertise does your company have? How familiar are you with best practices for surveying and running focus groups? Again it’s likely you have little expertise in these areas – yet having good/great objective data to base important investment decisions will result in better decisions and more predictable results.
Having a good research partner will help you turn unpredictable decisions based on hunches into fact based decisions that are more likely to be successful – and when they are not, you’ll more likely know why (learning why an investment didn’t work is a good use of your money – versus an investment that didn’t work and you don’t know why and therefore may make the same mistake again).
Can you afford to engage a good research firm?
You can. For just $5k you can get started with a small targeted research project – that has the potential to impact your business by hundreds of thousands of dollars in the next few months. Maybe a price sensitivity analysis which could potentially impact your top and bottom line in just the next quarter or two? Maybe research on what your target customers think about your website or marketing materials – that will potentially help you dramatically increase the number of sales leads you get every month. As you see ROI and build a trusting relationship with your research partner, you can move on to longer term research projects such as competitive analysis, and sizing up new markets in new countries you are considering investing in. With a modest investment in research, you can remove a lot of uncertainty and subjectivity from key decisions you need to make effecting investments of hundreds of thousands of your dollars. How can you afford not to get some professional research done?
So how do you find a good research firm?
Like anything, getting good references, and having a quality discussion with the references, is the place to start (sound familiar?). Of course their having a broad variety of experience doing research work in technology markets is a prerequisite. Be sure to ask them to share with you a research project they have already completed that is similar to the research project you are considering having them work on first.
One professional research partner Autodesk has a lot of experience with – having completed over 200 research projects for Autodesk – is Business Advantage (based in the UK though doing business worldwide). Does this mean they are “too big” to do research for a small technology business? Not at all. They are doing research for a number of small businesses too – including a few Autodesk partners.
Next we’ll talk about the use of Merger & Acquisition Consultants when you are ready to “cash out” but are unsure how to go about it – how to avoid common mistakes that can result in your leaving a lot of money on the table and/or leaving your best customers feeling betrayed and abandoned.