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CEOs

How to Improve Your Market Research and Fast-Track Growth

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All middle market companies want to grow. Market research is key to developing a smart plan for growth. This means you’ve got to find the right firm — one that knows how to answer your questions and can deliver high-quality research quickly and cost effectively. Middle market companies deserve the same high-quality custom research that larger enterprises demand, and they can afford it if they know where to look.

The world of market research is waking up to the fact that there is a huge customer segment that desperately needs their help, but can’t afford inflated pricing.

“There are a number of methodologies that are perfect for the Middle Market,” Ali Perry, co-founder of Nashville-based market research company MIzzouri, explains. “They’re fast, affordable, and forward-facing. And that’s where they need to be looking — toward the future. They don’t need analysis or tracking data to tell them what happened in the past. Middle market CEOs need information that will help them quickly make decisions for tomorrow.”

One such methodology, according to Perry, is conjoint analysis. In this method, survey participants are offered multiple arrays of purchase choices, and every choice increases the depth and breadth of information available to the client. “It’s perfect for war-gaming what-If scenarios,” Perry explains. “It can tell you exactly what will happen to your choice share if you (or your competition) introduce new products at different price points — or existing products at different price points. Importantly, it gives you boundaries — the points at which you couldn’t even give your product away. Knowing when you’re not relevant is relevant.” Conjoint analysis has traditionally been expensive and slow, but the new breed of market research firms can deliver high-quality data faster and for a fraction of the cost.

Perry says that the most important thing middle market CEOs can do is to raise the bar on their expectations. She offers the following tips:

  1. Don’t tell the research firm what methodology you want. Instead of saying, “I need a focus group on X,” describe the business issue and let your supplier figure out the best way to get there. Their solution may be faster, cheaper, and more accurate than what you had in mind. And if they can’t operate like this, you’re working with the wrong partner.
  2. Insist on a supplier who is methodology agnostic. A lot of firms sell off-the-shelf products — and they’re rewarded by how many of those products they sell. Firms that are customer-focused start from a position of neutrality. They recommend the solution that best meets your goals, not theirs.
  3. Find a supplier who will be a true partner. “You should be able to get your supplier on the phone and talk through scenarios even if you don’t have an active project for them,” insists Perry. “You want to choose a supplier who values an ongoing relationship — and that involves a lot of conversation, at no additional cost.”

The right market research and supplier can make the difference between explosive growth and stagnation. Perry sums it up perfectly, “When you get that ideal partnership, it’s pure magic. And you’ll leave your competition in the dust.”

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