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Tuesday May 10, 2005 3:44 am

Do Your Initial Market Research To Get The Edge

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Features, Planning,

Many Internet businesses are started by people who have only a casual knowledge of the inner workings of the medium. The world wide web is a global, interconnected network of information which people can access from just about anywhere - home or work, computer or cell phone, wired or wireless. This gives you one clear advantage running a business on the Internet over running it in a physical office or brick-and-mortar storefront - unlike a business or resource one would have to travel to, yours is only a click away. There are a few things you should look in to before jumping in head first.

A good businessperson understands that there is a lot to learn from the successes - and failures - of those companies that have come before them in their target market. There is a virtual wealth of information available if you take the time to get to know the sector in which you hope to be operating. In fact, the more information you obtain, the more likely it is that you will be on the path to success. A couple of things you want to look into are:

  • Other businesses that have an Internet presence in the same general and specific field. What do they do right? What are they doing that you think you can improve upon?
  • The way they advertise to their members/customers/visitors. What age group/gender/location are they aiming to target? Based on these facts you can determine who it is that might be attracted to your site based on its look and any advertising you may do.
  • What sort of software is running the back end of websites in your niche? Most larger companies have software they have built from the ground up. However, smaller sites usually identify what type of software they are running on. Look for this information, and you can begin comparing software.

The first point allows you to check out your competition. Take a look at what they are writing about, selling, or otherwise specializing in. What kind of spin are they putting on their presence to bring in business? If you initially had what you thought was an excellent marketing idea, and you find someone else has already implemented it, you will need to move to Plan B. While unfortunate, it is better than being viewed as a copycat or getting into legal trouble.

The second suggestion allows you to size up your potential audience. For example, if you plan to start an eBay Store specializing in sports memoribillia, you can bank on the fact that your visitors will be comprised of mostly males. Learning how to market toward this demographic would be key.

In doing your research, I find that the best place to get good, solid information is on message boards. Places like WebmasterWorld bring Internet business owners together to talk about strategies for making websites a success. After looking at a few message boards or newsgroups related to the content you want to publish, you will soon find that your participation in these discussions will bring you a wealth of knowledge penned by seasoned veterans as well as those just starting out.

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