Small and medium businesses need and can gain from market research as much as large companies can. However, unlike large corporations, smaller businesses don’t necessarily have the ample cash flow to throw away on market reports costing hundreds or thousands of dollars for point-in-time information. Unfortunately, market research reports from professional firms and suppliers don’t come with inexpensive pricing. Firms know their information can be valuable, and they expect to pull every dollar out of their reports as possible. So companies pay as matter of practice. However, professional reports are not the only source of good market research.
There are number of good, qualified freelance writers available who are trained in market research and know how to pull out statistics, demographics, trends, research and analysis from available industry information. Even better, the charge for these writers’ services is nowhere near the astronomical prices demanded by professional firms. Yet in many instances the work provided can be essentially the same material or close to it. For a small business on a budget, this kind of alternative can be a serious consideration.
Any freelance writer can offer research. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean what’s produced meets the needs of a business. So some good vetting is required ahead of time.
First, small businesses are well within their rights to require writers to provide samples of their work prior to being hired, and samples are the best way to see how the writer performs research, finds sources, and summarizes the information into a useful, concise report, or not.
Second, a good writer should be able to show his training credentials as well as related experience. Often, some of the best researchers come with a combination of work skill and book learning, being able to synthesize both into useful, practical report products clients can use in real time. When a writer only has theory to rely on, the product tends to be academic versus rooted in practical examples and recommendations. This is not a bad thing; it just doesn’t apply well for a business looking for practical information it can use to make decisions quickly.
Third, businesses hiring a writer need to be specific about what they want from a writer in terms of marketing research. It’s useless to tell a writer to go and research restaurant activity in an area, and then expect to identify the competitive potential of adding another Chinese restaurant to the same region. If a business wants a detailed result, it needs to spell out what that desired result is, even if doing so involves technical instructions. The more the writer knows regarding expectations, the better the finished product will be.
Obtaining good market research doesn’t have to be an expensive affair. Similar products can be hired from good writers who work independently. However, businesses need to be clear about what they want and take the time to vet writers to find and hire quality help. Rushing the matter or going too cheap often ends in disappointment and useless research.
Tom L is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.