Have You Done Your Market Research?

Written By: Elizabeth McGee

You’ve just decided to start an online business. You have a
great idea for a product, the adrenalin’s pumping and you’re
anxious to get started.

One important question — have you done your market research?

I know –market research, how boring!

But before you tune out and disregard the question, think about
what it will take to start your online business. You’re going to
be investing lots of energy and time as well as money. Don’t you
want to make sure your product or service has potential?

You bet you do! If you don’t, all your efforts and money could
be wasted and your business may become another online casualty.
It happens all the time.

So, before you get too anxious, consider the following:

Is there a market for your idea?

Don’t assume that just because you, your family and friends
love your idea, it’s going to be a profitable one. There’s a big
world out there and what you consider a great idea may not be
suitable for the rest of the world, so let’s make sure it has

There are 4 things you need to consider:

– What is the online demand?
– Who’s your Competition?
– What kind of profit can you make?

Online Demand

The simplest way to find out if your product or service has
potential is to simply find out what the online supply
and demand is.

This is done by taking the supply or the number of competing
sites for a product or service and dividing it by the
demand or how much the product or service is searched for.
The lower the result, the better.

For example, let’s say you want to sell ‘porcelain dolls’
but you’re also considering selling charm bracelets. Let’s
see what the better choice might be by looking at the supply
and demand.

My search engine of choice is Google so when I type in
‘porcelain dolls’ into Google it returned 3,630,000
competing sites as of this writing.

My keyword search tool of choice is Overture, so when I type
‘porcelain dolls’ into the overture search term tool the
results are 17946.

When I divide the number of Google’s competing sites by
the number of Overture search count, the total is
202.27 (3,600,000 / 17946 = 200.60)

Now let’s do the same thing for ‘charm bracelets’.
At the time of this article Google returned 1,950,000
competing sites and Overture returned a count of 50417.
The result was 38.67 (1,950,000 / 50417 = 38.67).

Charm bracelets is the winner because the ratio between
searches and the number of competing sites will make it
easier for your site to be found.

This is online demand in it’s simplest form but it can
give you a good idea of what you are up against.

Next you must research your competition

Always know what your competing sites are doing and how
they are doing it. Let’s say you decide to sell those
charm bracelets. Type ‘charm bracelets’ into Google and
take a good look at the first few pages of listings that
come up. Look at each site and study it. Make a chart
and note the following for each site.

- What products do they offer?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of each site?
- What information or services does each site provide?
- What did you like or dislike about each site?

Once you’ve compiled your chart this will help you determine
how you can make your site better and what information or
services you might want to include that would offer better
value and/or service. The key here is to find out what is
out there and how you might deliver it better.

What kind of profit can you make?

Profit is calculated after all your expenses are met. It’s
basic business 101 but sometimes online business owners
forget that.

If your porcelain doll cost you $10 and you sold it for $30
you may have made $20 but your profit may be lower. You also
need to take into account what it cost you to make that sale,
advertising, website costs, merchant account costs, shipping,

After expenses, 30-50% can be very good. Anything more would
be ideal, however if you can’t show a profit after expenses it
won’t be worth your time.

Study your competition, keep your costs down ,keep your price
competitive, offer something free if you can, stress your value
and be sure to take all facets of cost into account.

About the Author

Elizabeth McGee has spent 20 years in the service and support industry.
She has moved her expertise to the world wide web helping businesses
find trusted tools, enhance customer service, build confidence and
increase sales. You can visit Elizabeth’s sites at:

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