In their search of success and growth, startups have a lot on their minds. One of the dangers in this challenging phase, is that they lose sight of a crucial element: the market. We had a sit-down with Hans Verhoeven, general manager of the interactive market research agency iVox. Not only do they perform market research, they also develop interactive applications based on their research, that facilitates companies’ marketing and communication goals. We asked Hans about the importance of market research in the development of startups.
Why is market research so important for startups?
Ambitious startups often forget to take a good, close look at the market, Verhoeven says: “They forget about market research, because their company is born from a problem that they themselves have experienced. These entrepreneurs face a problem, they come up with a solution and they automatically think that there’s a big market for it. What happens next, is they talk about it with other people, who verify that feeling. Convinced that they created a great product, they only listen to people who nod their heads. Market research can help refine that original business concept, to uncover its true potential and where to find it. Market research can also determine how serious the initial problem that gave rise to the startup, actually is and – most importantly - whether people are willing to pay for a solution.”
When you’re selecting a market research agency, keep in mind these 5 tips.
#1 Don’t be afraid to follow your intuition.
Talk to many different people and see which agency you’re most confident with. Ask them about their technical skills, but know that nearly every agency will have no trouble delivering those. Your inner gut feeling is what choosing the right partner should be all about.
#2 Find out exactly who will be your advisor.
Ask who your personal account will be. Will you be dealing with experienced people down, or are they only there for the start-up and the final meeting? Know who your main contact is, both for practical issues and content issues. Some of the project management tasks will come from less experienced staff – and that’s fine. But try to stay connected with those more experienced people as well. They are the ones who can give you lots of valuable tips and tell you how to use the newly gained data.
#3 Make sure that your agency can grow with you.
As a startup, you goal is to grow. It’s good that you have a partner that understands your current needs, but is that partner willing to follow you once you get bigger? As you become more successful, will your market research agency still guarantee the same services? A large agency can be practical in this respect, but an individual researcher might be able to help you out more.
#4 What is the agency’s take on the startup culture?
A young startup is not the most profitable client for market research agencies in the short term. The budget is limited and they have to deal with a lot of questions like ‘what does this mean?’, ‘how do I interpret this?’ and ‘what do I have to do next?’. Starters will often need extra consultancy as they go along. Agencies who share that startup mentality or have only recently outgrown it, are far better at dealing with these situations and will be of more use than large companies who lack that affinity.
#5 How will the help you?
Agencies might all have the right technical abilities, but you want to know how they will tackle specific surveys. Perhaps you’re a layman and you don’t know what’s a good idea and what’s not. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions. That way, you’ll be able to compare the practical approach of different agencies and pick the agency that feels right for your business.
Want to know more about market research? Make sure to contact iVox!