4 Questions To Ask Yourself When Starting Market Research

Market ResearchI am a big promoter of market research in all forms and in all types of businesses.  Research can help in start-ups, small companies and large Fortune 500 type companies.  Although I am a big proponent of using market research, I am a bigger proponent of using market research wisely.

Why?  Because I have seen money wasted in the name of market research when the company did not know what they were truly trying to understand.

Here are 4 tips to think about when starting about market research in your business.

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Merging Website Design and Market Research

Website DesignSo you have a business or, maybe, you are working for a new company or start-up.  What’s the first thing you know you need to promote the new organization?  A website!  True, every company really needs a website.

But, before it gets designed and developed, how should you go about making sure it is as good as it can be?  Research!

It is estimated that right now there are 644 million active websites on the Internet according to Netcraft.  So how do you make sure that your website will be appealing to readers and search engines?  Research!

Search engine optimization (SEO) is such a critical component in website development.  How do you make sure the keywords are the right ones?  (I think you know where I am going with this.)  Research!

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Don’t Forget To Evaluate Marketing

MarketingMost of the business I talk to, they each worry, consciously or unconsciously, about two things, sales and marketing.  Now, they may worry about other things within their business, as well.  However, they all seem to worry about these two.  Nearly a year ago, I wrote two blogs about using market research to improve marketing (you can check them out here and here).

In these two blogs, I wrote about about using market research to evaluate your marketing program.  However, in those discussions, there was an assumption that companies are actually evaluating their marketing.  It is said that companies know that 50% of their marketing budget is ineffective, however, they do not know which 50%.

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Evaluating Your SWOT Through Competitive Shops

mystery shopper

Every good business plan has a SWOT analysis, a honest evaluation of the company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  Without an evaluation of these elements of your business, whether it is a new business or one that has been around for several years, the plan is really not complete.

While developing or revising a company’s SWOT analysis, a complete look of the competition is necessary.  By preforming competitive shops you can make sure that you are taking into account the companies that are trying to take your customers and your sales.  Now, I have blogged before about competitive shops before (take a look here and here), and I have specifically mentioned developing a in-depth SWOT analysis.  However, you cannot have one without the other.

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An Open Letter To All 200+ Million LinkedIn Users: Correctly Invite Someone To Your Network

LinkedInDear LinkedIn and All LinkedIn Users,

I am writing to you today because of a problem that I am seeing occur more and more.  For me, the problem has become more pervasive, and more of a nuisance, over the past 24 months as I have tried to proactively grow my network, not only in size, but also in quality of people both inside and outside of the industries I am involved in.

I am concerned as now that LinkedIn has grown to over 200 million users, the problem is going to be more of an issue as more people get on LinkedIn and start to use it on a regular basis.  Maybe it is because no one has educated the masses of users.  Maybe it is because some have lost any sense of off line networking and do nothing but online social media based networking.  Maybe it is because some people are just plain rude.

The issue is simple: Sending a generic request to connect on LinkedIn.

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The Differences Between Data, Information, and Insight

Data-Information-Insight Tweet

January 23, 2013 started like every other ordinary Wednesday. I was doing a quick scan of my Twitter feed and I saw this gem. You can get the full article here.

Then the skies opened up and a choir of angels began to sing. OK, not really. But you get the idea.

The comment was so insightful that I ended up sharing it during a lunch-and-learn I had last week The event was talking about market research basics with a group of entrepreneurs and people who worked with or for start-ups. One of the comments I had in the presentation is “what is NOT market research”. My comment was just doing a survey or have millions of lines of data is not market research in of itself. However, it is a means of getting market research completed.

So what is the difference between data, information, and insights. Well, here is my perspective:

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One Man’s Perspective on Why Innovate Raleigh Is Important

Innovate RaleighLast Thursday afternoon was the latest installment of Innovate Raleigh, Innovate Raleigh 2013: Building on the Past, Creating the Future.  If you are a newer reader to my blog, or just not sure what Innovate Raleigh is, you can get an understanding of it from previous post here and here.  Although I have been to several of the meetups over the past year or so, this event was, in my opinion, something special.  Most of the previous meetups were evening affairs that informed the community about some industry or something specific that is going on in Raleigh that is innovative in some way.  Typically before and after the main event, there was open networking and some good food and drinks as well.

Well, this one still had a great session of open networking and some great food and drinks from Bolt Bistro & Bar.  But that was the only thing that was the same.

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How To Segment A Target Market

PeopleOne of the tings a new business needs to focus on is determining who their target market is.  Although when most people think about a target market, most think of a consumer target market, like 25-35 year-old women.  A target market can be segmented in multiple different ways, not just demographically.  There are both consumer based segmentation as well as business based segmentation.

Lets take a look at a few ways to break out both B2C and B2B target markets.

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Understanding Accrual Accounting

cash accrual accounting

Credit: Dreamstime

You all get a treat today, a guest blog by financial executive, Charles Seeman.  He wrote a great case study previously on this blog that get a lot of attention.  So, without further ado…

When I was a young junior staff accountant for a large regional CPA firm I, like all other junior staff people, were assigned to do “write up” work for some of our clients. Some of the older business people would play a game with junior staff accountants like me where they would tell us that they can guess the final net income number and be within a couple of thousand dollars of what is calculated by accrual accounting. At their skill at this amazed me, but after a while, I understood completely how this was done.

The purpose of this blog entry is to help young entrepreneurs understand and thus be able to predict how their business is doing. I want to help young entrepreneurs avoid the trials and tribulations that those older business owners endured to learn the skills necessary to be able to truly understand their business and how revenues and costs work. Read more of this post

What Will The 2013 Economy Be?

Note: This is part 2 of a 2 part series looking back at the economics of 2012 and projecting the economics of 2013. Part 1 can be found here.  Also, look forward to the Triangle predictions coming up on Thursday.

With the year ending and all the talk about the “fiscal cliff”, there has been a lot of talk of what will happen during the next 12 months.  I feel like everyone can agree that the economy has seen better days and there seems to be indications that things are getting better.  Here is what I think the economy will be doing over the next 12 months.  Now as I stated last year, I am not by any mean the Oracle at Delphi, but this is my opinion based on a lot of reading and research by experts in their areas of expertise. Here are some areas of interest, including some not specifically discussed in Part 1 of this blog.

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