So you’ve come out with the next billion-dollar business idea. You know it’s going to work because ... well, it will, right? Everyone must think the same as you and there will be people lined up waiting to purchase your new product or service the very second you launch it — you just have to flip the switch.
It’s this mentality that leads businesses down the wrong path and towards many failed launches.
So what can be done? How can we provide a successful launch that will give us the best ROI? A successful launch requires marketing research.
3 marketing research tips
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Develop a marketing plan
It’s almost sad to have to say this, but without developing a marketing plan, how will you know when you succeed or fail? You need to set goals and aim to achieve them within a certain time frame. This will help you determine if the path you are headed down is the right one or not.
2. Do customer research
If you focus on SEO or paid advertising already, then you know that being very specific with a campaign is incredibly important. It’s just as valuable to weed out the people and businesses that you don’t want to target as to know who you are going after (your ideal clients).
Because of this, I would highly suggest diving into your customer research and figuring out your demographics. Who is it that you are going after and why? What purpose do you serve in their lives and how will you make it better?
3. Think of objections and then how to overcome them
You know those annoying calls that you get on probably a daily basis, where someone is trying to sell you something? They are the kings and queens of overcoming objections. They have heard them all, written them down, and discussed how to overcome each one. Have you ever said, “Sorry, I don’t have the money at this time,” only to hear, “How much are you spending now that this could save you? Can you afford NOT to move ahead with our widget?”
That’s because they have done their research and you are not the first to object in this same way. The same should be true when thinking about what your potential clients will say.
Research existing and potential customers
Great, we understand that we need to know our customers, but how do we go about this? We can start with some basic knowledge that we have. If you are going into an industry, you probably have a little information about how a person behaves and what they do.
Focus groups are a great way to get information. Granted, this comes with a large cost, but with this data, you can really make decisions based on actual feedback from potential clients and adjust and adapt your business model to fit the needs. Since focus groups can be pricey, consider getting involved in the local groups (mentioned more in the next section) and running your ideas by them.
Seek local groups that fit your demographics, as this is a great primer for getting in front of potential clients.
Run your service by them, take in their feedback, and find out what they might do differently. If you find a lot of people are saying the same thing, that might be a very important part that you have overlooked.
Online surveys from your website
Granted, I tend to find these a bit annoying, but you know the ones I’m talking about. You’re browsing a popular eCommerce store and a popup appears that asks you to take a quick survey to let them know how they are doing. Most people won’t do it, but on a high-trafficked website, a small percentage can make all the difference in the world. You can gain valuable (and cheap!) advice on what you can do better.
Interview your customers
Interviewing your valuable customers provides another opportunity to find out what you are doing right, but also what you are doing wrong.
Take the criticism in stride and look at how you can utilize it to make your business better.
There is no such thing as a perfect business plan, so taking feedback from existing customers can prove to be very valuable in finding your next customer.
Take this opportunity to work on inbound marketing for your business. This is where you focus on bringing customers to you by providing your potential customers with useful information to help them make the decision to move into the next step (which would be a warm lead). Inbound marketing is all-encompassing and will really help you get a feel for your customers and help you put together the personas that are needed when putting your marketing plan together.
Data data data!
Even after you’ve launched your new product or service, it’s incredibly important to think about what your competition is using for information and what your potential customers seem to be interested in. When you are looking for new topics and ideas for content, use data.
Research your local market
Times seem to be changing in the online world. Before the great World Wide Web people would buy local — seeking out businesses to support that would also support their local community. Then, for quite awhile, it seemed that people wouldn’t care where the business was located. Heck, we have clients in Alaska, California, Florida and everywhere in between — not bad being from a small town in Maine. That being said, at OSC we shifted our focus to serve the local community more efficiently. We’ve noticed that around the same time we made this shift, other businesses have started to focus on working locally as well.
We will get calls all the time where our potential clients say they have a great web company, but really want to start working with someone local.
This seems to be a trend as I talk to others in the industry, so it gives me hope that people are coming back to supporting the local market.
All that is great, but what are we supposed to do with our local marketing research?
Revisit your marketing plan
First, I’d go back to the marketing plan and the demographics of your customers. Does your local community have enough of a population that can support your business plan? If not, you might want to expand your reach. For example, the town I live in has about 13,000 residents — not nearly enough to make a good run at offering our web marketing services, so we focus on the state as a whole.
Do local outreach
If your marketing plan can be focused locally, you’ll want to start reaching out locally. Where do your potential customers hang out? Are there local groups that you can become part of to help spread the word? There are BNI chapters all over the world, and chances are there’s one near you. Join the chamber of commerce, the buy local groups, and any other local networking groups available in your area. Look into how you can get your link onto their website — backlinks are always nice.
Connect with local businesses
Get your name out there. It’s incredibly important to know that in the local community, the businesses that can help you out might not be your customers. Find the influencers and get into a good relationship with them. See how you can help support their business and in turn, they will look out for you.
This might not work every time, but there are definitely times when they will mention your business name to their friend who has been looking for exactly what you have to offer.
This tree-like effect can branch out and bring you customers for years to come.
In fact, some of our best clients have come from one local person who was not even a customer. This led to us building more than 10 websites and years of great business relationships. Don’t ever underestimate the power of someone who might not even be your customer.
At the end of the day it’s important to remember a few things.
- Come up with that plan and write it down. Go over it again and again and try to find weaknesses and where things might go wrong so you can be prepared.
- Research your demographic. Do they have a need for the service that you are about to bring to them?
- Validate and be confident in your service. Now you know you are ready to tackle anything that comes your way in terms of objections.
- Launch your service, but continue to do the research needed because no matter how much research you did to begin with, chances are there’s something you can add to your service that you hadn’t thought of originally.
- Reach out into the local market. Get involved with the local groups and get in front of people. This will really help you know if your service has legs and to judge people's reactions.
- Never underestimate the effect that someone can have on your business — even if they aren’t the ones who will end up buying from you directly.
Now, go put these marketing research tips into practice to grow your web design or development business!