The role of marketing in business may surprise you. Many books and seminars on marketing begin on how to develop the Marketing Plan. I believe this to be a mistake.
You shouldn't begin thinking how you are going to market something until you first determine if you have something to market. You also need to have the ability to develop and service your product; will it work the way you say it will work; are there no adverse legal ramifications? Finally, can you sell of offer it for a profit?
Finding your Niche Market
To begin, you need to find a product that people need. Think back in your life. Was there any problem that you felt was not resolved completely? Was a solution presented to you that could have been more complete? Still no ideas?
Then seriously contemplate and record the following:
- What kind of things are you interested in? Tennis, Books, Music. . . . .
- Do these interest border on Passion? Football, Writing, Collecting. . . . .
- Where is your Knowledge base? Is there any subject or topic that you know a lot about?
- Are you the person people come to for answers - asking your advice or opinion?
Answer the above questions. Consider each point carefully; don't be afraid to consult with friends, family and colleagues. And be completely honest. When you pursue a business that you are passionate about, something you really like to do, your chances of success in business increases dramatically.
Finding the Hurt
The product or service you wish to develop should be related to something you are interested in. By promoting your interests, it will feel less like work, and more like fun. After all, wouldn't you rather “work" at what is fun?
Many people make the mistake of developing a product first, then trying to find a market. That is backwards. You must first find the demand, and then fill it. This will guarantee the success of your product, as people are already looking for what you are about to develop. By filling this need, you can actively focus your energies on marketing to the audiences that will provide the highest sales profit.
I. Finding the Right Markets:
Examine your list. You now must research and find markets that relate to your list of interests. Brainstorm a list of general, potential markets for each of your interests. Do not be concerned if your markets seem too broad or general. Utilize friends, family and the Internet – searching keywords related to your interests.
II. Research the Competition:
Now that you have your list of specific markets, it's time to examine the competition -both online and off. Research businesses that cater to the specific markets on your list.
For Example: Artists might be segmented into oil painters, watercolor artists, sculptors, advertising. Examine how existing businesses cater to these markets. What approach do they take to the ceramic artist? Are they offering fr*e advice, selling it, providing products?
Finally, take a look at how well these businesses are marketing themselves to the market segment. How organized and professional looking are their sites?
Two great tools to compare companies is Alexa and Marketleap . Alexa is comparatively accurate, and can give you details for a site including:
- Traffic Ranking
- Related Links
- Link Saturation
- Contact Information
- Site, User Reviews
While most of the information is accurate, it can be abused. I have found several Reviews coming from competitors with less than flattering remarks. The comments were unfounded and only used to try and reduce the credibility of the actual site. I also found Contact Information slow to be updated. On the whole it is a great tool and worth utilizing.
Marketleap will help you compare sites showing Link Popularity, Search Engine Saturation and Keyword Verification.
Their Link popularity check is one of the best ways to quantifiably and independently measure a website's online awareness and overall visibility. Simply put, link popularity refers to the total number of links or “votes" that a search engine has found for that website.
Search Engine Saturation simply refers to the number of pages a given search engine has in its index for a website domain. Not all search engines report this information but enough of them do to create some meaningful benchmarks for search engine marketing campaigns.
The Keyword Verification Tool checks to see if a site is in the top three pages of a search engine result for a specific keyword.
III. Meet the Market Demand:
Now it's time to find the greatest need. There are several ways to research this:
1. Research Keywords
To narrow down your niche market utilize tools such as:
- Overture Term Suggestion - gives a list of related searches and how many times those terms were searched in Overture during the previous month.
Search for terms that are frequently searched for by your target market - but are not being used effectively by your competition. This competitive analysis will expose untapped needs and help you avoid marketing to heavily saturated markets.
RULE: When competing in a saturated market, define and maintain a tightly focused niche market for your business.
If you find there are many web sites marketing a similar product and not enough people are actually buying to make your product idea profitable, it is better to find out before you launch your Marketing Campaign.
2. Newsgroups, Discussion Boards, Chat Rooms
Be still, and listen. People will TELL you what they like and don't like; what they're looking for. These forums are frequently visited by people seeking advice. By monitoring these discussions you will discover the “hurts" that need to be filled.
This is a great way to find potential products or service ideas. If the same question is repeated, there are probably hundreds and, perhaps, thousands of people wondering the same thing. Some good places to start:
- Webmaster World
- Google Groups
A search in any of the major search engines will provide several good boards and chat rooms.
3. Customer Use
If you already have an established customer base, send out an email survey. 80% of your continual sales come from 20% of your client base. Statistics have shown that up to 36% of your current client base will purchase form you again if you have something similar to offer.
4. The Reviews Are In
These sites are used by people to either rave or complain. This makes it a gold-mine of information of how the public perceives the competition.
- Cunsumer Review
- Consumer Search
5. Competitive Analysis
What exactly is your competition offering? What solutions are they offering? Where are they vulnerable? To beat the competition, you need to understand the competition.
The purpose of Competitive Analysis is t to determine which business strengths are needed to be competitive in the market. You also need to determine how the competition will react to your strategies BEFORE you implement them.
Your competitors could be your greatest source of inspiration. Once you have chosen your area of interest - start a thorough market research.
To analyze the competition, gather information on:
- Their Competitive Market Share
- Their Current Strategies
- Future Goals
- Where they are vulnerable
- What will provoke retaliation
- copies of all their marketing materials
The more you find out, the better you'll be able to find a weakness, and then develop a strong Unique Selling Proposition. Make your product better, faster, easier, safer, and more cost-effective. Do whatever it takes to entice customers to buy your product or service over your competitions.
IV. Customer Analysis : : How Accurate Is Your Research?
At this point, determine if your research is accurate? Talk to members of the market and confirm it.
- How big of a problem is it for them?
- Is it a minor nuisance, or is it something they would pay to obtain a solution for?
- How much is that solution worth to them?
1. Validate your information; get on the phone, run surveys, chat in newsgroups. Do research to see if anyone else is currently offering a solution to this problem. If they are, what are they charging and how good is the service?
2. Customer Interest: Find out if customers are interested in the product or service. It may be that there is already enough products in that niche, but it lacks in services to help use the products.
3. Determine the general price range. Can you offer a price advantage? Determine the price-sensitivity of your future, potential customers. If the competition is constantly cutting costs to gain new customers, this is a warning flag.
4. What gender is your potential market? What is their income level? What level of education do they have? Their geographic location? These are important factors in order to determine how lucrative your market will be, as well as how to best approach and advertise.
5. Most importantly, What motivates the market to buy? Do they react to a price drop? When you understand your audiences’ motivation, you'll be able to appeal to what motivates them to buy.
Remember to find the problem before you try to develop a solution. It is much more lucrative to find out what your potential market is searching for and then filling that need.
- Choose a niche market from your interests
- Research keywords to find what the market is already searching for
- Research existing niches and improve on existing products
- Survey current customers for potential products
Your business success hinges directly on choosing a product that the public already wants and then providing it.
About The Author Suzanne Fyhrie Parrott owns and operates OneWay Advertising and Design , and is co-owner of TrafficGeni.us . Established in 1988, OneWay is a full-service Christian Advertising agency providing marketing, advertising and graphic design services for on and off the Internet.