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5. Market research and testing

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Guidance on writing the 'Market research and testing' section of your business plan.

5.1 Research

Describe the research you've done on your market

In section 4, you described your customers. In this section, describe the research that backs up your statements.

A business plan is only as good as the facts behind it, so if you haven’t done your research, your plan is likely to fail. Voluntary organisations tend to be very good at learning about their beneficiaries and will be used to sourcing research and evidence. You can apply the same principles to customers.

You don’t need to include all of your research here, but you can put it in an appendix if you think it’s essential.

Market research doesn’t have to be expensive. There are lots of ways you can access market data for free, and plenty of free internet or social media tools that can help you gather information from potential customers.

5.2 Testing

Describe how you've tested your market

If you’re launching a new product or service, and if you’re hoping to generate trading income, it’s a good idea to test your market. This is essential for voluntary organisations, as it’s likely you’ll have limited time and money to invest in a new product. You need to know that it’s going to work.

Describe how you’ve tested your market or set out any testing that you plan to do.

This goes beyond market research: it’s about taking your product or service to real customers and asking them to use it. It’s hard to ask people what they think of a product or service if they’ve never tried it.

If you can, ask some trusted contacts (for example, some of your most engaged beneficiaries) to form a testing group. Involve them in the product development from an early stage and ask them to try a basic version of your product or service. Watch how they use it and ask for feedback.

This kind of testing can give you invaluable information about how, when and why people will use your product or service, and it will highlight any problems or unmet expectations.

Page last edited Oct 12, 2020

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