14 Sep How to Perform Market Research on Your Bankruptcy Customers, Competitors, and Industry
5 easy steps to gain a better understanding of your business environment
Outside of your office, your potential customers are preparing to find an attorney to file bankruptcy. Other law firms are scheming how to compete against you for market share. Your industry is constantly fluctuating with economic and political changes.
How well do you know what is going on outside your office? How do you find out? Welcome to market research.
Why should you perform market research?
Data and information nearly always precede effective marketing decisions. While “gut instinct” choices sometimes pan out, more often than not uninformed decisions lead to costly mistakes or missed opportunities.
As a bankruptcy attorney, you should develop a market research strategy that will give you the information you need to refine your marketing strategy and plan.
How can you effectively research your market?
Market research isn’t rocket science (thank goodness). In fact, with a few hours a month and with a few readily available tools, you can easily gain the insights you need to improve your marketing. Try these steps to get started:
1. Define your goals for your market research
Scientists most often have clear objectives for their research, but sometimes they make discoveries by simply exploring without a clear objective. Similarly, you may decide to start researching without clear objectives to find insights that you did not intend on finding. Conversely, you may have set objectives, such as:
- Determine who your competitors are, how they are marketing themselves, and how competitive your area is among law firms
- Determine how strong of demand your area has had, has, and will have in the future
- Determine what your customers really want and need from bankruptcy and in an attorney
No matter what your objectives in research, all findings will lead you to actionable insights that you can use to improve your own marketing efforts.
2. Research the most important factors that will help you make marketing decisions
You don’t need to know every tidbit of information about every competitor, every industry detail, and every consumer preference. To avoid overkill research, focus on the things that are most important to know, such as:
- National Industry: How many bankruptcy filings are there? Are filings decreasing, increasing, or remaining constant? How is the local demand in your area? Are there any political or economic changes currently or upcoming that could affect demand?
- Local Industry: How many bankruptcy filings occur in your specific court district? In your state? In your city? How many people are searching for bankruptcy help online?
- Customers: What do your customers need? What do they want in an attorney? What are the demographics of the customers in your area?
- Competitors: Who are your local and national competitors? How are they marketing themselves? What is the going rate for services?
3. Use effective tools and sources to find the information you need
Depending on your budget and time constraints, you have two options for doing market research:
- Hire a market research firm: If you want premium market research and are willing to spend some money, hiring a firm that specializes in small business research will give you the best results in terms of data and insights on your area.
- Do it yourself: If spending money on market research worries you, you can always perform your own research. While the data and insights you gain may not be as fancy as those from a professional research firm, you will likely find most of the information you need to make good marketing decisions.
If you do your own research, there are plenty of free and paid online resources that you can use, such as:
- Search Engines: Use Google and Bing to research your competitors’ websites and find industry data
- PPC Advertising Data: When you advertise on Google and Bing, you can gather data on how many searches customers are doing each month on various bankruptcy-related terms. This will help you gauge how strong demand is in your area. Also, you can measure the cost per click, which is a huge factor that reveals how competitive your area is among law firms.
- City-data.com: Use this website for research on populations and demographic data on residents in your state and city.
- Google Maps: Use the street map view to see the physical locations of your competitors and learn other aspects of your city.
- Size Up: Use this tool to research your competitors in your area
- U.S. Census: Use publicly available census data to help you learn about customers in your area.
- Customer surveys: Interview your past and current clients to learn what they want in an attorney. This will help you improve how you market yourself and interact with potential and actual customers.
- Court Statistics: Use publicly available data on government websites and on abiworld.org to track industry demand for bankruptcy filings in the nation, in your state, and in your city.
- Pacer: Use Pacer.gov to research what prices your competitors are charging on their cases.
Most of these tools and websites are free, while a few have premium paid features that will enhance your research.
4. Determine an action plan based on your findings
Great. Now you have lots of data and information on your customers, industry, and competitors. Now what? You should turn this information into an action plan for your marketing. Take the data and information that you have found and turn it into 5-10 summarized insights. For example, you may say, “My area is not very competitive” or “My competitors have much better websites than me” or “Bankruptcy filings are decreasing slightly from last year”. Your plan may include improving your marketing messages and mediums, your day-to-day business operations, and long-term expansion plans.
5. Repeat the process periodically
While all industries change over time, the bankruptcy market in particular is constantly changing, adapting, and evolving due to economic fluctuations. Also, your competitive landscape will likely change periodically as new firms emerge, attorneys retire, and firms change their marketing strategies.
Therefore, it is wise to keep your market research current and up to date by repeating the market research process 1-2 times a year, depending on how many changes are occurring in the industry. With fresh market research data at your disposal, you can make sure that your marketing is consistent and appropriate with what is going on in your market.