What Worked For Me When Building A Small Business Marketing Research Firm

I’ve been self-employed for nearly a decade, but I haven’t always been successful. Like many of you, I’ve had the occasional misstep with my business. 

However, if there were two things that made all the difference for me when starting my own small business marketing research firm, it was keeping an open mind and having a willingness to learn from mistakes.

These lessons from years spent as a small business owner are still relevant today, so here are the top tips that worked for me:

How to do Market Research for Small Business – YouTube
Key Takeaways
1. Building a marketing research firm requires a deep understanding of the industry landscape and target audience.
2. Developing a support system and networking within the industry can provide valuable insights and opportunities.
3. Embracing continuous learning and staying updated with industry trends is essential for success.
4. Offering specialized services and finding a unique value proposition can set your firm apart from competitors.
5. Leveraging both qualitative and quantitative research methods can provide comprehensive insights for clients.
6. Establishing a strong online presence and utilizing digital marketing strategies can attract clients effectively.
7. Effective communication, transparency, and building client relationships are crucial for long-term success.
8. Scaling your firm requires strategic planning, adapting to client needs, and maintaining quality services.
9. Overcoming challenges with resilience and learning from failures is a part of the journey to success.
10. Evolving your firm based on client feedback and industry shifts ensures continued growth and relevance.

You Can Compete With Bigger Firms

There is no doubt that some of the larger research firms have more resources than you do. They have more people, they can handle larger projects and they may have higher name recognition. But that’s not to say that you cannot compete with them. 

You just need to find ways to make your firm stand out from the crowd by providing something different or better than your competitors:

Starting a small business marketing research firm requires a deep understanding of the industry. If you’re considering this path, learn more about the role of a market research analyst to build a solid foundation.


A small business may be able to offer a lower price for its services than a big company because it doesn’t have as much overhead (e.g., office space).

Personal Service 

Smaller companies are often able to provide personal attention from their employees which creates an added level of trust between the customer and provider (e.g., face-to-face meetings). 

This can be especially important when conducting qualitative research where getting into peoples’ heads is helpful in understanding what words mean in their language rather than yours! 

Another example could be if there’s only one person working at a firm who speaks both English and Spanish fluently.

Then it would probably cost less money for them when compared to having two employees doing separate translations during interviews – one English only while another translates everything into Spanish.

Work With Consultants, Especially At The Outset

There are a lot of moving parts to building a business, especially if it’s your first. I would definitely recommend working with consultants, particularly at the outset. They can help you understand what you need to do and how much it will cost (and how much time).

They can also help you determine whether or not this is something that’s going to be worth pursuing. If it doesn’t make sense financially then perhaps there’s another option for growth that should be considered instead.

A good consultant will tell you if your business model isn’t viable or if market conditions are changing too quickly and making things difficult for small businesses like yours.

Know Your Customers, And Start With The One You Know Best

Know your customers. This is the most important part of any business, especially when you’re starting.

Know your target market. What are their demographics? What geographical areas do they live in? Where do they spend their time online? How can you reach them as efficiently as possible and at a cost-effective price point for both sides?

Know your competitors. Who are they, what do they offer that is similar to yours (or better), how much does it cost for them to give that value, how much demand does their product or service have on its own merits (not because of social media ads)?

Know pricing strategy your own and that of your competitors: Are there many ways to get from point A to point B when it comes down to price points or is one way better than another (and why)? 

How can we make our product/service stand out without drastically changing what makes us unique?  What will help us drive more traffic through SEO so we’ll be able to sell more before we even open our doors!

Building a successful marketing research firm involves expertise and professionalism. Discover the essentials of becoming a certified marketing research professional to ensure you’re offering top-notch services.

Think Of Your Business As A Work In Progress

I’ve had to make a lot of changes along the way, and it was hard. I thought that if I didn’t keep my business model the same, then what would make me successful in the first place? 

But, after some time and reflection, it became clear that I was being too rigid with myself. Sometimes you just have to try something new out of curiosity or because you think it might work better.

Remember: You’re not an expert on every single thing (especially at first). Trying new things will help you learn more about your industry as well as yourself!

When times get tough or when things aren’t going well for some reason and trust me.

They will don’t be afraid to tackle those problems head-on and figure out how best for your business based on what works today rather than how it worked yesterday when everything was fine but now…

Don’t Make Big Cuts In Marketing In Lean Times

As a small business owner, you know that cutting costs is important. But when it comes to marketing, don’t decide to make big cuts in marketing before you have to.

The reason for this is simple: If you cut marketing too early and too deeply, it will hurt your business in the long run.

I’ve seen this happen many times over my career as a small business marketing research consultant. When companies are just starting out and struggling for clients or sales, they often reduce their spending on advertising and promotion or even stop it altogether.

Because they think more money should be spent on paying off debt or investing in other areas of the business instead of advertising. 

This makes sense from an accounting perspective but may be doing more harm than good for your company’s growth prospects down the road if those ad dollars weren’t contributing significantly enough (or at all) toward helping generate new customers.

As you establish your marketing research firm, selecting the right participants is crucial. Learn how to pinpoint the ideal candidates for your research panels with these insights on identifying the right person.

Spend Your Resources On What Distinguishes You From The Competition

If you’re going to spend money, make sure it’s on something that distinguishes you from the competition. I mean this in two ways: first, make sure people know who you are and what makes your business different. 

And second, if there are certain things that define what makes your business special and successful things like high quality work or a service-focused approach then invest resources in those things so that everything else flows from them smoothly.

It’s important to be known for something; otherwise, how will anyone know how awesome (or not so awesome) a company you run? But remember: Don’t confuse being known with being good at something! 

You don’t want some random customer telling everyone about how amazing their experience was at ABC Accounting Firm because they did such an awesome job on their taxes… 

The only problem is that ABC Accounting Firm didn’t even do the taxes because they outsourced them to some other big accounting firm instead!

Combine In-Person Meetings With Online Research

It’s not just a matter of being able to do your research more cheaply or quickly. Online research can also be more flexible, scalable, accurate, reliable and effective than in-person meetings.

You can scale up or down depending on the project’s needs and budget requirements; you can target the right people with a highly specific audience segment, and you will have time to conduct multiple rounds of qualitative interviews without burning out your subject pool.

Use Social Media To Communicate With Clients And Prospects

Social media is a great way to communicate with clients and prospects. It helps you build relationships, communicate with your prospects and clients, and it can even help you build your brand.

One of the best things about social media is that it’s inexpensive, easy to use, and most of all effective! You can use tools like Facebook to market your business for free or at very little cost. 

By using social media as part of your marketing strategy, you will be able to reach a large audience at no cost (or almost no cost).

Your goal as an entrepreneur should be to maximize opportunities whenever they arise not minimize them because they might seem risky or challenging at first glance. 

Social media allows us here at Small Business Marketing Research Firm this opportunity – so let’s make sure we take advantage of it!

Your marketing research firm’s success hinges on making informed decisions. Explore strategies for making smarter choices in our guide on making better marketing decisions to drive your business forward.

Get Great Headshots That Say Something About You And Your Company

Use the same professional headshot for all your online profiles. This will help people know who you are, and make it easy for them to find out more about you, as well as where they can get in touch with you.

If possible, choose a headshot that also shows off some personality (i.e., don’t just choose the one with the most flattering lighting). 

The key is balance: don’t pick a picture where you look like an ax murderer because of how much makeup was applied; 

But also try not to go too far with it either you don’t want potential clients thinking that they have nothing in common with someone who looks like their high school drama teacher!

Be Very Deliberate About Promoting Yourself And Your Company

One of my favorite sayings is, “Be very deliberate about promoting yourself and your company.” In other words, make it a priority to keep up-to-date with any and all information about what you do and who you are. 

This includes your website, social media profiles, email signature, business cards and voicemail message (if possible). 

I know this can feel like an overwhelming task but it will help others find out more about you when they need assistance from a marketing research consultant such as yourself.

Don’t Be Afraid Of Silence When You Are Talking To Someone On The Phone Or Face-To-Face

Don’t rush to fill the silence. It’s ok to pause, take a breath and think before responding.

Don’t make assumptions about what the other person is thinking. You don’t know what their internal monologue looks like unless they tell it to you explicitly (and even then…). 

You can only guess at why their facial expression changed from curious to confused, so just ask them! “Why do you look confused?” Or “Can I help answer your question?”

If they say no and just want more information with no answers coming back in return, that’s fine too! 

Just keep going until they need some clarification because we all know how hard it is trying not thinking about something while someone else talks at length about something else entirely different all around us… And that brings us right back to our next point:

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t feel bad if your basic questions aren’t answered correctly right away either! We all have gaps in our knowledge base; 

This is how we learn more about ourselves as well as others around us through conversation and dialogue which leads me (and hopefully soon everyone else) onto my final point here:

Partner With People Who Can Market You While They Deliver Their Services To You

When you’re developing your marketing research firm, you want to make sure that you’re working with people who can market themselves as well as they do their services. 

This is important because the Internet is an increasingly crowded place, and it’s more difficult than ever to get noticed by clients.

When hiring a vendor for marketing research or any other service, make sure they have an online presence of some kind (website, social media accounts) and that their customer reviews are positive. 

Then ask them what they do to promote themselves or their services within those platforms. 

You should also ask if there’s anyone else in the industry where your vendor might be able to advertise on behalf of some kind of special deal or promotion for all vendors in that field this could benefit everyone involved!

Give Your Vendors Good Reasons To Tell Others About You And What You Do

Make sure your vendors know what you want them to say about you.

As a small business owner, you need to tell your vendors what it is that makes your company so great. They know the products and services that they provide, but often don’t have an understanding of how those things might help a customer grow their business. 

They are also busy people who may not have time for lengthy conversations about the value of their work or products. 

If you can create a list for them that provides some high level reasons why customers should buy from them (and from no one else) then they will be more than happy to share this information with any potential clients that ask about working with them.

Enhance your marketing research firm’s impact by integrating strategic insights. Discover how applying effective marketing research can lead to increased sales and growth in our article on strategic marketing research.

Give Yourself Good Reasons As Well!

The best way to ensure repeat sales is through mutual referrals between existing clients and new ones; 

Both parties benefit by spreading the word about each other’s services or products because it helps build trust among current customers while also attracting new ones looking for similar solutions!


I have one last piece of advice for anyone who is looking to build a marketing research firm from scratch: don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t be done. 

Even though it was a long journey, the hardest part was not the actual building of my business; it was overcoming my self-doubt and fighting with myself about whether or not I had what it took to succeed. 

There will always be naysayers telling you that your dreams are impossible, but just like I did in high school when no one believed in me except for my mother, you have

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources that can provide further insights into improving your business’s market research:

5 Ways to Improve Your Business Market Research

Discover effective strategies to enhance your business’s market research efforts and gain a competitive edge.

Market Research: A Comprehensive Guide for Business Ideas

Explore a comprehensive guide that delves into the importance of market research for various business ideas and how to effectively conduct it.

The Buyer’s Journey: How to Do Market Research

Learn how to align your market research with the buyer’s journey to create targeted marketing strategies that resonate with your audience.


How can I improve my business’s market research?

Improving your business’s market research involves adopting a multifaceted approach. Consider diversifying data sources, leveraging both qualitative and quantitative methods, and staying updated with industry trends.

Why is market research essential for startups?

Market research is crucial for startups as it helps identify market needs, validate business ideas, understand customer preferences, and make informed decisions that contribute to sustainable growth.

What is the buyer’s journey in market research?

The buyer’s journey refers to the stages a potential customer goes through before making a purchase. It includes awareness, consideration, and decision stages. Aligning your market research with these stages can lead to more effective marketing strategies.

How do I choose the right market research methods?

Selecting the right market research methods depends on your business goals, target audience, and available resources. Qualitative methods like focus groups and surveys, as well as quantitative methods like data analysis, can provide valuable insights.

How can I make my market research actionable?

To make market research actionable, ensure that the collected data is specific, relevant, and easily interpretable. Translate insights into practical strategies by setting clear objectives and creating an implementation plan.