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Image of Owl Street Studio's What is Market Research episode from Empathy, Marketing, & You
Photo of Owl Street Studio's founder, Brian Rawson
Brian Rawson & Raven Ariana /
July 30, 2021
Photo of Owl Street Studio's founder, Brian Rawson

We've partnered with Nevermore Creative to bring you our new show, Empathy, Marketing, & You.

In today's episode, we unpack what exactly is market research (spoiler alert: market research is way more than just demographics. Real market research is...[Watch to find out]).

Nevermore Creative is a member of the Owl Street Studio creative collective. Learn more about Nevermore Creative by following founder, Raven Ariana on Instagram here: @raven.ariana

Watch the video above. And read the full transcript below.

Episode Transcript:

Raven: Hey Brian, what's up? How are you?

Brian: Hey Raven, not much, how are you?

R: I'm good, I'm good. I just wanted to get on here because you are the expert.

B: Aw, thank you. Wow, you’ll make me blush

R: And I got questions for you, totally random.

B: Ok.

R: So, no pressure.

B: Alright

R: Just be ready.

B: All right, I can do it.

Who We Are

R: Starting with, introduce yourself to the people. Who are you? What do you do?.

B: Yeah, I’m Brian Rawson. I run Owl Street Studio, so we do marketing and design and help, help people build their business.

We work alongside people to help solve the, whatever problems are in front of them. So whether you need a new logo, or if you need to figure out how to get fundraising for your nonprofit, we're there to help you.

R: And for the people who don't know me, I'm Raven and I'm the founder of Nevermore Creative. It’s a social media marketing agency, so get your content right with me.

Isn't Market Research Just Focus Groups?

R: But today, we're gonna be talking about market research, which is complete German, Czech, Swedish and French to me.

Um, so yeah, I just want to start off, like, because when I think about market research, I think about a focus group. Pepsi versus Coke, or Daddy Daycare when it was like “Veggie O’ssss!”, like when all the kids where, like when all the kids were together, like that's what I think market research is. Am I wrong?

B: No, You’re not wrong. But it’s only, but it's only a very tiny piece of it. It's just one, one little slice. It's not the whole rainbow.

R: What is it? Like? What does it consist of?

The 3 Building Blocks of Market Research

B: A lot of things. The way I break it down, honestly, for me to remember because it's so much stuff is I like to break it down into three big categories.

That I break it down into “You” or the company. And if you're solo entrepreneur or a small team, maybe it might be you personally, but the You, the firm; “Them”: the clients or customers; and “Them”: your competition and then the overall landscape of your industry.

R: Got it. Got it. So what sort of things am I thinking about as an entrepreneur when it comes to myself and my competition and the landscape? Like what does that all mean?

The "You" of Market Research

B: Yeah, Well, for me, again, it's so many things that I have to break it down into little boxes and lists and things so I can keep it all straight. So within those big categories, I break them into smaller and smaller and smaller ones.

So for the “You”, “You” part, I split it in half. That on one side you're checking everything with your product or service. When I say everything, I mean, all the, every piece or ingredient, component that goes into that thing.

So this is looking at all of your logistics like how much does it cost to ship that thing? What’s it cost for insurance? What does it cost for if you're making, um, ceramics or if you're building furniture or something, what is the price of each screw? You know, what's your profit margin on each item? How many do you need to make and ship so you can break even, and yada, yada, yada, I mean, it's a lot of stuff.

The other side is you maybe personally. So if you're just starting out, I think this is really important. Because if you've got an idea, you might have a lot of passion for it. You might be really excited about it. But if you want to make this thing, even a hobby business, ah, or something that’s just a side gig, I think of it like forming a new relationship. It's like asking someone to move in with you. That you really have to do some soul searching to know if you're willing to stick with this project and be stuck with it for 40 hours a week, for maybe a lifetime, for at least ah, ah, maybe a few years.

So you might have fun building ceramic, making ceramics or building furniture right now. But can you really keep that up? For so many times, you know. So, there's a lot of soul searching there.

Um, I've seen people have perfect logistics, great profit margins, all that kind of spreadsheet, you know, nerdy kind of number of stuff. But they forget the soul searching part, and you got to have both.

The "Them" of Market Research

B: Again, it’s a lot of stuff, so I break them into pieces.

So the customer part I also split in half, where you have your primary customer or client, the one you, if you’re an existing businesses these are the people who are your hardcore fans, the people already making your business run. So if you haven't started a business yet, these are the people you wish were there like your ideal,, I guess relationships are on my mind, it's almost like trying to think of the perfect friend or a new relationship you want to have, that ideal partner.

So you have to envision the customers and clients that you want to have if you don’t already have them. And what I mean by that is thinking through their personality. So if it's new customers you want to get, I think if they're sitting across the table from you, what would they be like? Just like if you're making a character as if you're writing a novel, or if you're having to be a method actor in a play, like what is the inner workings of this person?

And then once you figure out the personality of that ideal client, then it's the more spreadsheet stuff: the demographics, how old are they, where do they live, what's their income, and that kind of stuff.

And then you do all that for your ideal customers. And I always do the second half, of your secondary customers, people that they're not gonna be hardcore fans, but they like you. If you're, say you're a restaurant, maybe they're not eating there five days a week, but they stop in on their lunch maybe once a week or, or they do takeout from you every now and then like they support you, but they're not...they're not showing up every day. So, and I do the same process. What's their personality like? What's it like when they're across the table from you, and what's their demographics like?

And depending on how big you are, you know, a really large firm, you might have a third level customer, fourth level, and so on. And so you just do the same process for each one of them.

The Other "Them" of Market Research

B: And then, make sure I didn’t miss anything here, the last, for competitors, I break that into a checklist where you look at direct competitors, people who are doing exactly what you do at exactly the same size and scale. So if you're a mom and pop bakery, what are the other mom and pop bakeries around you.

And then I look at your competitors who are doing exactly what you do, but at the biggest level possible. So if you're a bakery, what's the industry standard for a bakery? Um, I don’t know, would that be, ah, Little Debbie or, or Betty Crocker or something like that, like the big one - you know.

Then, you look at substitute competition. If they're not buying muffins, what could a customer be buying instead? So...maybe...they could buy a banana. Maybe...they want granola. Maybe they want an energy drink or a protein shake. So every person who makes a protein shake now is also one of your competitors. So they're just off to the side instead of being right in front of you.

And then...what are people who do something different than you that people could also use instead. So I call this indirect competitors, so people kind of by accident. So say you're a bakery. People go to a bakery to get, get you know, muffins and all that; but they could also go to a gas station to get that.

So you wouldn’t think a gas station is a competitor, but they're  kind of by accident, a competitor.

So then, you just go down that list. Sometimes there's a lot of indirect or substitute competitors. Maybe there’s only one. But you got to, you got to go through that checklist.

--- End of the Episode ---

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