In PR and Marketing it is vital to know what customers (and potential customers) think about your product or service. If you have little or no budget for research, how can this be determined? Rather than wander blindly with no information, try some simple, inexpensive research.
Talk to people. You can learn a lot in a one-to-one conversation. I’ve seen consultants put more stock in a response from a waitress in a diner than in the results of a research project costing thousands. Ask good questions. Then… listen.
Monitor online comments. Check what is being said on Yelp or Google comments. Yes, some posted comments may be suspect, but by sifting carefully you can find valid feedback.
Use surveys. Your email service provider may offer survey capability. Survey Monkey is an online service that can be used to collect replies to multiple choice and open-ended questions.
If you can afford to spend large amounts of money with a private research firm, the results can deliver major enlightenment or can reinforce what you already believe. If you cannot afford the big bucks, try doing it on the cheap. What you learn can help you figure out what is important to your target.