Proven techniques for running a successful business online.
Finding An Audience
Whom you sell your products and services to is often more important than what you offer them.
Making money online starts with finding a group of people that are in need and then providing a solution to those people. The more desperate their need is, the hotter the market. The more passionate to emotional that crowd is, the more responsive they will be.
Have you ever looked at a large crowd of people in a football stadium or flown over a city and looked at the rooftops over a sea of neighborhoods, saying to yourself...what if I could get each person out there to just give me a dollar??
I know it's just a silly fantasy...but it is an interesting principle. The fact is, the Internet kind of works that way..if you use it correctly.
In other words, imagine if there was a way for you to connect with a large group of people all in one easy to access location. Now imagine if you could gather, or collect all of those people into groups - each group categorized by some problem, passion or pain they have in common. Proper market research essentially does that.
Market Research is this:
Locating a group of like-minded people who want or need something they are willing to pay for.
The goal is to find a group of people that all are looking for the same solution to a problem they have, then providing that solution to them.
Brilliant marketers look for target audiences that have a problem, are in pain or are passionate about something. (This problem, pain, passion principle works in the offline world as well by the way.)
Market research helps us uncover a lot of possible niches, but not all of them are always profitable, so our research also has to help us weed out the bad ones.
For example, you could find that there are thousands of people who want free pumpkin pie recipes. The problem is they are looking for free recipes. But what if we find there are hundreds of people that are willing to BUY the world's best pumpkin pie recipe the week before Thanksgiving. Which one do you think is a more "hungry" target?
We want to find a target audience that does not need convincing. They need to already be looking for a solution to a problem and ready to purchase that solution. And again, we want them passionate, desperate or even emotional about a solution.
The reason all this sounds complicated is because it is. At least, it used to be. Remember, technology can be a wonderful thing.
What used to require months of research, millions of dollars, dozens of focus groups and months of man-hours can now be largely accomplished in minutes or days with Internet technology.
The problem is, most (not just many - but most) marketers skip this critical process either because they don't know how to do it or they are simply not interested. Many make the mistake of falling in love with a product idea, invention or new business concept before they find out if anyone else is going to fall in love with it.
That could easily be the number one reason why most small businesses fail so quickly.
Without researching, locating and learning about the target market first, you can literally kill a business before it launches. Without this research, marketing efforts will be futile because we will find ourselves mis-communicating with our audience because we don't know them well enough - or worse yet, we discover they don't exist. It's no fun making that discovery by spending money on product development and advertising. It's better to discover they don't exist before you spend money trying to reach them.
This actually creates a dilemma for many would-be marketers.
How do you find a product that you have some knowledge about and passion for that you can be an expert in that will also sell?
The real work of market research is rather mathematical and mundane. It's about numbers, not only about what you like or how you feel.
The true entrepreneur does not look for a product first. He/she looks for a market first. They study that market and find out what that market wants. They decide if what that market wants is also something they can be an expert in or at least become an expert in. Finally, the entrepreneur provides what that market wants.
A successful marketer never falls in love with the idea of selling one particular product or service. A successful marketer loves studying people - how they think, what they do, what makes them tick and what it takes to provide what they want. That is the making of true success.
The Internet has created lots of market room. You would think there is too much competition for just about every topic, but it isn’t always the case. When you are doing business with the entire planet, you need to examine the global community differently than you would your own local town.
Market research helps us balance the issue regarding global competition. In choosing a hot topic or trend, it is important to remember these two simple equations:
Broader Topic = A Larger Audience = More Competitive Market
Narrow Topic = Smaller Audience = Less Competition
The larger the target is for a market, the more competitive it will be. Some folks stay away from highly competitive markets because they think there is no “room” for them. But the truth is, the amount of “room” that is left is determined by how numerically large that target actually is. You can only discover how viable a market is by actually doing the MATH on it…not gauging your decision on how you feel or what your skeptical brother-in-law told you.
On the other hand, a topic that is too narrow or too specific may not have a crowd large enough to make enough money with. While the competition may be null, there could be a good reason for it. Perhaps there is no audience showing interest in that specific area.
Obviously, there is a "sweet spot" somewhere between too broad and too narrow, where the competition is enough to have already proven the market, but not too stiff to contend with. Market research helps uncover the data for finding that happy medium.
Good market research is pragmatic, mathematical and unemotional. Once you understand this concept, it will help you every time you begin to create a product for a particular niche. You will be surprised at some of the topics that people are hungry to buy information about…topics you may have never thought of without looking around first.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Hughes started experimenting with marketing on the Internet in February of 1996 and has been making a living online since 2001. Greg has helped tens of thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs create their online presence and assisted them in setting up successful ventures on the web. Some of his clients are the now famous "gurus" you see making tens of thousands of dollars in monthly revenue online.
His expertise in the technical side of Internet Marketing comes from nearly two decades in the web hosting and web design software industry. In 2009, Greg authored the book The Snowball Factor and has subsequently created countless resources, articles, video training courses including the 5 Step Marketing System, Best Kept Secrets of SEO, How to Zero In On A Hungry Audience, The Fanbase Blueprint and Social Media Blueprint. As the founder of DotComClassroom, Greg provides the resources and training for assisting Internet entrepreneurs with training for creating successful businesses online.
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