[Editor’s note: This is the 3rd of 10 articles of our Customer Acquisition series. Read the introduction of the series here.]
Research is critical to your business. Goes without saying, you are only as good as what you know.
Sun Tzu, military strategist and philosopher, in his timeless book The Art of War, emphasizes the importance of gathering information and utilizing intelligence sources to your best advantage, reducing risks and operational expenses.
In business, the more you know about your market and competitors, the better placed you will be when it comes to decision making and getting the most of your marketing efforts.
It also helps in building a clearer picture of what your ideal prospected customer is most likely to buy, and what you need to do to get ahead of the competition.
Follow these easy steps to heaping on research and gaining better understanding of your market potential and competitors.
Research, research, and more research
Sorry, but we just can’t say this enough: research is everything.
From identifying who your top competitors are and what they’re doing, how to reach out to your prospects more effectively, to knowing about the positioning and packaging of your products or/and services, throwing in the time and due-diligence to do the necessary legwork can hugely impact on the final results of all your marketing efforts.
Research can include the following:
- Market surveys
- Asking questions
- Attending conferences and events
- Observation of trends and patterns
- Surfing the internet
- Reading industry publications
- Becoming a member of an association
- Hiring a third party organization to carry the research for you
Choose the right research method(s) that works best to the outcome you want. Be specific also with the reasons for doing research and what exactly you’re looking for. Ultimately, the gathered information can help you avoid wasting time, money and energy on failed business ventures.
Assess the competition
Take the time you need to find out. Get in touch with your direct competitors posing as a potential customer. Ask them questions to find out what they’re currently doing, offering, and the sales process and prices of their products.
Look at their websites. Collect flyers and brochures. Read important online materials available. Or even buy a product from the competitor or try their service to compare them with your own.
Most importantly, know what makes them stand out from the crowd – their strengths as well as weaknesses – and what your business can do to be better.
- Are their products or services of a higher quality?
- Are their marketing strategies more attractive and engaging?
- Are their prices lower?
- How about the quality of their customer service?
Be critical of your own business and draw more motivation from your competitors. Get fired up. See where you can improve on.
Learn from the success and failures of others
Depending on your chosen market and what you want to know, your learning sources are almost endless. Find your role models and read about how they do it. Real-life experiences can help you be more prepared when you go out there.
Other sources that really worth your time to check into are:
- Top entrepreneurs today who make their ideas happen
- Marketers and specialists who know what they are doing
- Other business owners who are into the same business as yours in the part of the country
- Business media
Take their best ideas, internalize them and make them your own. Be sure to make concrete steps with whatever useful knowledge you get from your role models.
Experience more success!
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