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Marketing Tips for Small Businesses Part 2: Gathering Data for Small Business Data Analysis

Data analysis can allow a small business owner to interpret historical results and analyze how those results might impact future trends. In our recent blog on June 28th, we discussed what business intelligence is and the purpose of data analysis. However, the question remains, how can a small business owner gather data for analysis?

How Can a Small Business Owner Gather Data?

There are three common techniques used in data analysis:

  1. Surveying individuals in all of the demographics the product or services is being sold to
  2. Personal interviews with various consumers
  3. Focus groups so as to get an overall opinion, field trials, and observations

Data Analysis Tips for Small Businesses


Surveys are the most used technique due to its versatility. These can be in-person surveys taken in public places, telephone surveys, mail surveys, and online surveys.

  1. In-person surveys require a surveyor to talk directly to individuals in an attempt to ask them questions about a product or service. Data is then collected through the answers, and analyzed to form a solid conclusive opinion of the product or service as a whole.
  2. Telephone surveys are a less direct method than the in-person survey, although the surveyor still converses with the individual. This is also a relatively inexpensive method of gathering survey data. However, it should be noted that this method is often ignored by the public, and people are often difficult to reach over the phone.
  3. Mail surveys are an older way of gathering survey data, but are still usable for those who lack a way to get online or are otherwise unreachable.
  4. Online surveys are the most popular method today. The popularity stems from online surveys being not nearly as invasive as a one-on-one survey or a telephone survey and fairly cost-effective. Businesses can also provide rewards for those who participate in the online survey.

Personal Interviews

Personal interviews with customers also generate a great deal of data. The interview generally goes much deeper than the in-person survey, and allows customers to provide honest feedback on a product or service. The interviews can be recorded for future reference, and allow business owners to see ongoing or developing trends in their industry. Because these are more in-depth than a survey, this type of data often proves helpful for minor changes that consumers notice need changing.

Focus Groups with Field Trials

Focus groups are like that of the personal interview, except with a group of people rather than separate individuals. This allows for a stronger view of trends across a group of people. Multiple opinions from a wide variety of sources makes for a better idea of what the masses want out of a product or service.

A focus group can also lead to field trials. Field trials or tests yield important data about whether or not to change the packaging, how the product is marketed, and how customers respond to the product when they purchase and use it. This is where the theories are finally tested, and important data is gathered. Common questions or issues addressed in field tests include:

  • Does the product grab the attention of the customer?
  • Does the product look like something that would work in their eyes?

Which Works Best?

Each small business has its own unique needs and abilities for gathering data. There is no “one size fits all” answer. However, there are some nuances to collecting data that might aid small business owners in deciding what works best for their small business.

  1. Online surveys, as established before, are the least invasive and can offer rewards or discounts to customers who take the survey.
  2. Focus groups help provide a group-wide consensus as to what works and what doesn't in a product or service.
  3. Field tests and observations occur both on and off the store shelves, and can help determine consumer preferences about a product and even safety concerns.

At any rate, these methods allow small business owners to get important data about the product or service itself and its usefulness to the customers. These yield important points about where the product or service falls in terms of nearby trends, and where it will go in the future. Businesses are then able to forecast possible profit margins and big or small results from the product or service in question. Businesses are also able to plan for any contingencies and pitfalls that may occur with defective products and/or services, and thus be better able to satisfy the needs of their customers.

Interested in learning more about how your company to analyze data to better market your products or services? Contact us to learn more.

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