Researching your particular market for the latest insights into what consumers want is a vital aspect of any contemporary business’s success, but many of today’s professionals are struggling to really tackle market research like a pro. While we’re often told that third-party outsourcing is the simplest and most effective way to research our markets, for too many business owners that’s simply not an option.

By relying on your own internal research operation, you can soon be tracking down juicy market tidbits in no time. Here’s how you can approach market research like a pro, and what kind of tools and people you’ll need on your team to succeed.

It starts with your competitors

Many startups or ailing businesses in this day and age are making the same silly mistake time and time again when it comes to market research; namely, they’re not paying attention to what their competitors are doing. It’s actually essential that you keep close tabs on the kind of market research your leading competitors are delving into, for allowing them to pull ahead of you in the information arms race can have disastrous consequences for your business if you start to lose your share of the market to them.

Your first step, then, should be analyzing the market research your competitors are relying on and determining where they’re succeeding versus where they’re failing. Companies naturally monitor their direct competitors in their largest markets, but paying attention to indirect competitors and potential prospects, too, is vitally important. Real professionals understand that the search for information essentially never stops, demanding that you constantly re-approach old areas and re-examine them for new developments.

In the digital age, savvy market research is often just a few Google queries away. While many leading businesses employ armies of workers to sift through huge data piles for information about their competitors, other clever professionals just look at the social media feeds of some of their biggest enemies. The largest content and social media accounts in your industry are doubtlessly doing something right, which is why it’s worth exploring them to see if you should be ramping your own social media operations up a notch or two. When we were conducting research for an Italian real estate company located in Abruzzi, we checked both the Instagram and Facebook accounts of competitors in the sector and were able to pinpoint a precise strategy to allow our client to dominate.

More than looking at your enemies to deduce their grand strategies, however, you need to be placing your finger on the pulse of the market. To do that, you need to go right to consumers themselves.

What your business can do

You should immediately begin mining data available on public websites and large social media platforms if you haven’t already. Understanding how powerful companies leverage social media to find valuable information about consumer trends is a crucial part of success in the contemporary marketing age. More than that, however, you’ll need to enlist a team of professionals who won’t let you down, because excellent human capital equipped with the right tools remains the best source for the most lucrative market research.

By pairing your workers with AI-based programs, for instance, you can help your employees find more information in less time than ever before. AI is a means to an end, and will be leveraged most successfully by those companies which realize it’s just a basic tool for human use. If you haven’t considered adopting AI into your marketing research, that may be the reason you’re lagging behind.

Tapping into market research like a professional simply requires an ability to appreciate modern technology while simultaneously recognizing how fundamentally important human workers still are. By using talented human employees to more closely surveil social media channels and by onboarding the latest digital tools, you’ll turn yourself into a market research expert in no time.