Why do marketers perform market research? It’s about the four P’s — product, pricing, placement, and promotion. Of course, you can find out some other useful things by doing market research, but it all comes down to this: market research is an activity whose aim is to gather the information that will help you improve your business in the areas that matter most.

How do you go about performing market research? If it revolves around getting actionable information, then market research should involve asking the right questions to the right people. But making sure that the questions don’t cover too broad of ground is equally as important as making sure they don’t cause you to pigeonhole and get a restricted view of the situation. It’s all about balance, and you can achieve it if you can find your customers’ answers to these five questions.

  1. Who Are You?

Every business needs to know who its ideal customer is. The ideal customer is the person you have in mind when developing your products and services, and the person you’re talking to in all of your marketing.

When you’re performing market research, you will want to find whether the people you are asking for opinions are the people whose opinions matter to you. You usually achieve this by asking demographic questions such as age, sex, education level, income level, occupation, and location. These questions are usually short and easy to answer. You can get away with asking more than a few of them — as many as you need to determine which subjects of your survey are ideal customers, and which aren’t.

  1. What’s Troubling You?

One of the best ways to determine areas where your products or services could use some improvement is to ask your ideal customers,  whether they’re having any troubles with your products or services.

These don’t have to be substantial troubles. If you’re hearing that your products don’t work well, it probably wouldn’t be the first time you’ve noticed that. You’d be filled with warranty claims and you’d notice fewer sales already. But these answers can be valuable subtle things that will enable your products and services to deliver even more value to your customers.

  1. What Do You Really Want?

Well, you probably can’t ask your customers what they really want in such a blunt way, but this is nonetheless a question you absolutely need to have answered.

Luckily, there are endless creative variations of this question, so you shouldn’t have any trouble asking it. Don’t expect your customers to give you complete detail of a new product or service you could launch, but they can give you an idea. For example, they can say that they want to be able to buy your products online. And if enough of them says that, they’ll give you the idea to open an online store.

  1. Why Do You Think I’m Different?

This is what is called a competitive analysis or benchmarking — asking questions designed to give you insight into differentiators. The things that make your services or product different from the competitions’.

This type of research is easily conducted by asking customer satisfaction questions. Remember that they should include modifiers that can help your customers differentiate between the things they find useful and beneficial and the things that are just alright.

  1. What Do You Get Out Of It?

If you’re making umbrellas and you ask your customer what do they get out of using your product. They will probably tell that they’re staying dry while it’s raining. And that’s not the kind of insight that you could use to improve your business.

But you should understand that people aren’t always guided by practical and perfectly rational reasons when choosing products or services. They also utilize emotions to make their decision. And sometimes expect an emotional benefit to come out of their purchase. This emotional benefit is what you need to look for. It will facilitate a better understanding of your customers, and it will enable you to forge a more meaningful connection between your business, its products, and the customers.

At the end, you should know that you’ll probably want to ask more questions than just five to get the five answers you need. But rest assured that people like to be asked about their opinions. As long as you make your surveys reasonably short, you’ll probably get all the answers you need.