Why DIY isn’t always value for money

Continuing what’s become something of a small business-themed week, today we look at how conducting DIY market research can be fraught with difficulty for the unacquainted and why it’s something that’s sometimes best left to the professionals.

In her article, Do-It-Yourself Market Research which recently appeared in Business Week, Karen E. Klein runs through some of the ways a start-up business can get to grips with their industry. Her suggestions include:

  • Exhibiting at relevant conferences and disseminating surveys to attendees;
  • Stationing one’s self on the pavement outside the such conferences, handing out surveys; or
  • Hiring street teams to target particular areas;

Klein points out, however, that such techniques may end up looking like selling exercises and could even be misconstrued as harassment. Added to this, any business carrying out their own ad-hoc research would also have to be wary of the legal implications of doing so, as well as the issues involved in appropriate questionnaire design and sampling.

Given all this, and the fact that hiring staff or attending conferences could themselves be expensive ventures, the conclusion appears to be that there’s often no substitute for expertise where market research is concerned. As the article explains:

If you have the funds, an easier and more effective way to gather business data is to work with an established research company… caution [is advised] when conducting do-it-yourself studies. If a study is not well designed and executed, it can lead to poor business decisions, which are far more costly in the end.

Sound advice indeed – Especially because there are few worse things a business can do than not understand their market or their customers properly, as demonstrated by the picture below…

Ham for Chanukah?!

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