(mainly business to business)
This type of research should be used mainly for business to business, since there are so many direct sales companies ringing homeowners that it may be difficult to get a reasonable response when you call.
In addition, it doesn't matter when you call - they'll be having tea / dinner / a crisis / etc.
However, if you are using this for business to business, it is often better to call and ask the name of the person responsible for ... (whatever it is you're selling) ... say thank you and then goodbye.
Build this into a client contact database and then telephone sometime later and ask to speak to him / her, by name - you will get a better response.
Don't try to sell the receptionist / secretary on the survey you are doing - they possibly won't know the answer but will usually prevent you talking to the person who does.
This is a useful type of research for new product development, testing of existing products and consumer opinion on such things as image, service, marketing mix, etc.
It can be carried out in a very 'controlled' or fun way
Again, as with the face to face, the type of questions asked and the way they are phrased can often lead the research into giving the answer you want.
Better to find out the truth (good or bad) before you commit too much to anything.
This can be used with members of the general public or business to business
Try to make it as simple as possible for people to respond. Don't expect them to go too far out of their way to give you the information you want (unless you are offering some type of reward)
Keep any sort of questionnaire as simple and quick to complete as possible, make it easy for them to get it back to you.
For instance if you print their name and address on a label to send it to them why not print 2 labels and stick one on the questionnaire - then they won't have to write their own name and address - similarly think about whether you should include a stamped addressed envelope for their response.
In any event, unless you are offering a chance to win £10,000 don't expect a huge response (2% -4% is fairly typical).
Try to be as objective as possible, it is easy to design the research so that you become convinced there is a market there and it's not until you set up that it becomes clear that the market isn't big enough to give you a living income.
Be objective - even negative
The only person you can fool is yourself!
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It's a good idea to have a clear picture of who your competitors are and what their strengths and weaknesses are, before you set off in business. After all, they are the people that are probably servicing your prospective clients right now!
The sort of information you may require is :
Who are the competitors?
Where are they?
What do they charge?
What are their strengths / weaknesses?
What are the benefits they offer the customers and why do they buy from them?
It's unlikely that there are no competitors, unless you have a totally unique product, or service - be honest!
A typical competitor analysis is usually laid out like this