What is a good way to outsource internet based competitor and or market research? I am interested in both quantitative and qualitative information and was thinking I might need a different resource for each? I suspect that qualitative type research will cost more than I care to pay.
Quantitative Competitor Research Example :
Find me the top 50 business lead selling companies and some basic info about them.
Results in this form:
Companies To Watch Research:
Identify the most innovative companies in the Business Lead Selling space. Indentify what makes them innovative and where they source their leads from.
Outsource the gruntwork, not the thinking.
In other words, don;t expect to tell someone to get you a complete market research document without you knowing exactly what you want. Do the thinking yourself: What questions do you want answered, what data should be gathered, how the data will be interpreted, why will the data be valid, how big the samples should be, etc... Then the person(s) you hire can spend hours and hours gathering the data with good direction and supervision given by you.
If you hire someone who will do the work at $5/hour, you should assign the work appropriately. Now, if you are paying a market research firm $250/hour, I would expect them to have the expertise to do some of the thinking for you. But you still have to do the thinking... Nobody cares more about your market research than you do.
Have you considered dropping down to the local University and hiring marketing students?
You can generally pick them up cheap, work face to face to design your research and then get them to execute!
I've tried using elance.com for exactly this purpose, to be honest, with fairly disappointing results. I suspect it was because my research area was too broad, and I think in the future if I'm outsourcing it will be for very specific jobs. I doubt I'll be outsourcing research... its probably something I should do myself, or someone I can talk to face to face :-)
I'd take a look at hiring "Virtual Assistants," they work for relatively cheap and they are task-based. So if you need some simple research done they can do the work and have the results back to you within a day or two (depending on how complicated the research is).
You might try Amazon MTurk. But I agree your question is rather broad.
Don't Waste Money - Testing Your Idea w/ Lean Market Research
As entrepreneurs it's clear that we all have a million 'million dollar' ideas, but it's also obvious that a lot of the time we're just working on assumptions, and use forums like this to find out whether people 'think it's a good idea' or not.
The issue with that is that we're not actually asking our target market - it's fine to ask friends / colleagues to get a vague impression about whether an idea is viable, but to really know that you've got something worth pursuing you've got to ask the actual target market.
I personally have found that Lean Startup, Customer Development, Lean Canvas, etc have really helped me to understand how to test an idea before spending money on making it happen (and trust me, I've blown some dosh on projects that went nowhere). There are also options like using mTurk, Feedback Army, SurveyMonkey, Instant.ly, etc, and also the option of lining up face-to-face interviews with members of your target audience.