It is a fact, although widely misunderstood and ignored, that thorough market research is the key to success in any business. It does not matter whether the business is offline or online, whether focused on internet marketing or on an unheard of niche business, unless your market research data backs up you seeing the vision of a profitable business, you will face an uphill battle trying to achieve the success you dream of.
Many, unfortunately, approach business in just the opposite way. Many businesses start because there is some technology, or code, or IP that is available. It maybe that the technology or the code available is unique, one that could have taken years to build or a team of rocket scientists to construct, but unless it is known that there is a market wanting it, the technology is all but something just to feel proud of, not to profit from. You can’t build a business because you have technology, you build a business because you have proven market data that points you towards profit IF you build the technology to support it.
What exactly does market research mean? And when do you know the data supports a profitable business? And how do you go about finding it?
Market Research is nothing more than evaluating the landscape that you would sell into in your niche area. A profitable market is one where you know for a fact that there are people that are willing to pay for your product or service, and that you can sell for more than what it would cost you to deliver (and build, maintain, support etc.). Effective market research is not just in knowing that there are people that will buy, but also in understanding who else offers the same or a similar product or service (or in other words, your competition). Market research is also in knowing that the desire for your product or service is large enough (in numbers with geography, seasonality etc. figured in) that you can effectively afford to lose business to your competition sometimes (because it will happen) and still can build a profitable business.
The focus of this article is to provide you with a few free tools that you can use for effective market research in identifying a niche area online. You could use this as a starting point to getting your research kick-started.
The first tool that provides you with a wealth of information to identify niche markets that you could research is none other than the “earth’s largest online marketplace”. Yes, Amazon.com. Amazon is a widely popular marketplace, and there are millions of products featured and sold each day. It could be a nightmare trying to figure out what is moving and what might be worth your research just going at it cold. Fortunately, it can be easier. As a start, just focus on one particular topic – Magazines – and on five hot categories – Movers & Shakers, Best Sellers, Hot New Releases, Most Gifted and Most Wished For. As you can see, you can easily navigate from one to the other as well. If there is a Magazine that is moving the markets, it is certainly worth exploring further as a niche. Watch the trends and you could easily spot something that will peak your interest as a niche area for a business.
With hourly updates to everything you see not just on Magazines, but on a variety of other hot products & topics, Amazon Trends should certainly be on top of your list for niche market research.
Google Hot Trends
Identifying a niche market category or topic is spotted not just by focusing on what the world is shopping for, but in today’s internet world, it is also spotted by focusing on what the world is searching for – right now! If a search topic is hot and volcanic, and pertains to a product, service, topic or category, then you can certainly derive that there is interest in the same. Of-course, world searches happen not just on products and services, but also on what makes breaking news, such as an event or perhaps a scandal etc.. The goal is not to focus on those, but on products, services, categories etc. Again, with hourly updates, Google Hot Trends should be in your arsenal of free tools for effective niche market research.
With live and updated coverage on a variety of topics, including Fashion Trends, Sports News, Video Clips, Politics & Government, Web Images, Lifestyle & Communities, Travel Information, Business News, Science News, Health Issues, USA News, News Worldwide and Global Trends, Yahoo Buzz should be a key part of what you follow to gain clues on what’s hot and buzzing in the marketplace.
Ebay, Walmart & Buy.com Marketplaces
Ebay, the world’s largest live auction marketplace is always buzzing with activity. What’s moving on Ebay is certainly worth exploring. Ebay Pulse is a spot you ought to visit often, as it features what’s most hot on Ebay.
Walmart, the largest offline super store, moves markets. Although not dominant online, Walmart.com New Arrivals are items to keep an eye on.
Buy.com, a near Amazon-like discount marketplace, competes closely with Amazon and is hub for Electronics and Computer related offerings. What’s Shaking at Buy.com shakes and moves markets.
Google Keyword Tool
It is not just sufficient to focus on what products and offerings moves the market, it is equally important to analyze how many searches are underway. In the online world, searches happen by keywords and key-phrases. Google Keyword Tool is probably one of the most important free tools you just can’t ignore as with it, you have one of the most valuable tools to exactly know how many searches are underway, how many advertisers are competing for it and how much they are paying for it. With the ability to search for the keyword by broad, phrase and exact matches, you will very likely need nothing additional to initially carve out your market niche.
These are a variety of other tools that go beyond what’s covered in this article, and some of them are at no cost. This article is just a start, and you will see continuing tips, tools and techniques at bvish.com. Keep watching!