Increasingly, I am approached by budding entrepreneurs who have new ideas they believe can be converted to an online business. Often, they are correct. With a caveat.
Before investing a penny in the project, I beg these enthusiasts to invest some time in researching the viability of the product or the idea. A hunch or gut feeling simply is not enough reason to launch a business or even float a proposal.
The first thing to do is to target and research a target market to determine if in fact there is a calling for this product. The idea of actually doing the preliminary market research before anything else can be daunting and discouraging. The emotional high of uncovering the next best thing often overshadows the practicality of the simple words:
“Yeah, but is it feasible and can it be monetized?”
So, listen to me, you next big digital success story! Do your homework and here are some tools to get you started.
A noted columnist Sig Ueland writes for Practical Ecommerce. He compiled an excellent list of resources to get specific marketing input, before you go hog-wild and start contacting investors!
Below are the tools and resources for market research he recommends:
Think With Google. Think With Google provides tools to explore consumer trends and strengthen your marketing strategy. Use Shopping Insights, Google Trends, and Consumer Barometer for research on product trends and consumer behavior. Price: Free.
Amazon. Amazon is one of the best places to gather research on markets, new products, pricing, competitors, and more. Scan Amazon best sellers to determine market categories, niches, and related products for up-sells. Identify top competitors on Amazon to see their offerings and price points. Use the Hot New Releases, Top Rated, Most Wished For, and Gift Ideas sections to find your next best sellers. Price: Free.
Social Mention. Social Mention is a social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user-generated content into a single stream of information. Track and measure in real-time what people are saying about you, your company, a new product, or any topic across the web’s social media landscape. Social Mention monitors roughly 100 social media properties directly, including Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, and Google. Price: Free.
Typeform. Use Typeform to get answers fast with interactive forms on smartphones, tablets, and desktops. Helpful for getting feedback on products and experiences. Create and share feedback, contact forms, and customer development surveys. Price: Basic is free. Premium plans start at $29 per month.
Survey Monkey. Use Survey Monkey to create and send a market survey for primary market research. If you don’t have a customer list or a big group of social followers to work from, use SurveyMonkey Audience and gain access to millions of respondents who are ready to provide the answers you need. By sending a survey to members of your target market, you can ensure your efforts will be as effective and reliable as possible. Price: Basic is free. Paid plans start at $29 per month.