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Cheap (And Highly Effective) Market Research For You

Business-Building Actions From Terry Brock

Entrepreneurs wonder all the time about what the market really wants. What products will sell? What services are people ready, willing and able to pay for?

The wrong approach —- which is unfortunately used a lot — is for a well-meaning small business person to come up with a seemingly great idea and run with it. Many have tried the “Do what you love and success will follow.”  Only to find they still don’t make solid, bottom-line profit.

Now hold off on the nasty email messages. I’m a firm believer in doing what you feel is important. Just remember that in the world of business, YOU are not the one providing the income — your customer is. You have to come up with the products and services THEY are ready, willing and able to pay for.  If you like it, hey, that’s great! However, that is not the sole measure of what you should do.

Like so many decisions in life, it is a combination of what the market is ready, willing and able to pay for now as well as where you have a passion. In business, the emphasis is on the customer — at least if you want bottom line success.

So, how do you test for what they really want? How can you conduct market research quickly, inexpensively (key term in today’s market) and effectively (you want accurate results)?  I remember in my MBA program one of the classes was Market Research. We studied lots of quantitative approaches as well as really cool ways to find out what people said they would buy.

The problem was that most of that market research was really expensive. Lots of number crunching and focus groups would cost serious money. All that is well and good. Many of these same techniques are used today.

However, for you and me there is a much less expensive — and even more effective — means of testing new ideas for products and services. Today we have the benefits of new technology that have changed the rules and slanted the advantage to the small business.

I’ve always believed that small businesses have a real advantage over large corporations. I often joke that if I need to make a decision, I have a meeting of the Board of Director (emphasizing the one director!) and do it.  If I want a raise, I don’t have to ask anyone for it — I just go out and earn it.

So, here’s a way you can make decisions and test them effectively in your business.  Check the idea with a Blog. You can start a Blog for no cost at blogger.com or at wordpress.com. Both of these tools are excellent and they are free.  You can write about what is on your mind to test the market.  Be sure to include some good keywords as that will grab the attention of the search engines. People that are looking for information on your topic can find it very quickly.

No charge to you.

An even better way to test it is to put a video with your article.  Do it on YouTube and then include the HTML; the coding for the video; into your article with a simple Copy and Paste command.

No charge to you.

You can also ask for feedback.  Find out what your target audience thinks of your idea.  Before you spend all the money on a new product or expend a lot of energy, test it online with a blog and video to see the market reaction.  Get feedback from real potential buyers and slowly test the waters.

No charge to you.

Do you see how lucky we are to be alive today?  Even in the midst of challenging economic times, we can test ideas quickly.  If they don’t fly, look at it as really good information. This is along the lines of the famous Thomas Edison quote about not failing 1,000 times to create the light bulb, but finding 1,000 ways it doesn’t work. It cost Edison a lot of money to test his ideas.  Failures were disheartening and costly.  However, today you can test your ideas

No charge to you.

Kind of nice, huh?  Of course, the next step is if you see a lot of reaction (based on solid, real numbers of visitors and real reactions) you can produce a test product as a PDF or MP3 audio.  You can do this for little cost with open source software like Audacity for audio.  Check out PDF995 or PrimoPDF along with a host of others that will create a PDF for free.

You can create dazzling products which solve real-world problems and post them on your Blog.  Get an account (at low cost) with PayPal and you can receive money.

There you have it.  A great way to test your ideas and make money —- at no charge to you.  With this approach you can do what you love and the money will follow because the marketplace also loves what you do!

Copyright © 2009, Terry Brock and Achievement Systems, Inc.   Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and professional speaker who helps businesses generate profitable results.  He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or through his website at www.terrybrock.com.   Join the Twitter adventure with Terry through his Twitter address: TerryBrock

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