The first step in marketing to someone is to understand them. Begin to learn what their common fears, frustrations, pain, or urgency is. Look at what they want and who they aspire to be. What is their current world view? What situations are they experiencing? Are there any irrational fears, desires, thoughts or fantasies that they entertain? The question then becomes “Where can I find this type of information?”
There is a multitude of ways to do market research on the internet to find the answers to these questions. Look for research tools and strategies that will save both time and money for you the marketer. Think of these tools and strategies as ways to go “undercover” and spy ethically on your competitors. You will be getting into the mind of your target audience and looking for emotional words, phrases, or patterns that develop. Gathering this information allows you to craft the most relevant message that will capture the attention of your ideal prospects and attract them to you. Below are the top 5 quick and easy rapid research strategies and how they can be used to optimize your research:
1) Google Search and Keyword Tool – This is the primary market research tool, because they are far and away the industry leader in the number of searches made. There are 2 ways to use this valuable tool.
The first is to go to Google’s search box and begin to type in words that relate to your product or industry. As you type them into the search box, Google begins to list out possible search results based on what it thinks you are looking for. Take note of the words and terms as they can be very valuable to you.
You can also go to google.com/sktool. This is a free search and keyword tool that provides you with information on how many people search for a certain keyword or term over a month’s time period. Type in some of your keywords and you will begin to see the power of this particular tool. You can also use this tool to type in a website domain and Google will search and tell you the most powerful keywords associated with that website.
This is just a search engine statistic and has nothing to do with social networking sites, blogs, and other places on the web where your prospects are hanging out. It is just one tool.
2) Twitter Search – This is one of the most valuable tools on the internet as it allows you to see what’s going on in people’s minds in real time and even join in on their conversations if you so desire. This provides excellent content in very concise terms as Twitter requires that each post be no more than 140 characters long. This cuts through the fluff of writing and gets to the meat. Go to http://www.search.twitter.com. Type in words or search topics that pertain to your niche and start watching for emotional hot buttons around that topic or word.
3) Group and Forum Posts – These are places where people who have similar passions meet to share ideas. The best places to start are to Google groups or yahoo groups and type in your most basic keyword or phrase that has to do with your product or service, or the main benefit that your products promote and see what groups are out there. Join a few of these and then just hang out and listen to what is being said here. Also pay particular attention to people who write a lot of content. These are the people to friend. As you post in the forums, be ultra clear on what you post and when you post. Be sure that your posts add value whenever you can.
One quick caution: It is very easy to get sucked into spending several hours a day inside some of these forums and groups, but remember that your main objective at this point is market research. Be sure you are looking for patterns and emotional hot buttons in the posts being made.
4) Online and Offline Competitor Spying – Start looking at various review sites and offline and online publications. A great review site is www.Amazon.com. Many of the products that they promote have reviews from purchasers. You can begin to compare and contrast your products benefits with what the reviewers are saying about the purchases they have made. People who care enough to write those reviews are highly active examples of your target market.
When looking at trade journals, pay particular attention to the advertisements that are being run as they may give you some great ideas for copy of your own. If you have an opportunity to follow a publication for several months, see which ads consistently run month after month. These are the ones that are working for the advertisers and may contain valuable information on your target group.
5) Prospect Interviews and Surveys – This is probably the most important tool of all, and possibly the least utilized by marketers. There is no better research medium than having a one on one conversation with someone about their needs, wants, desires, and fears. The idea is to schedule regular phone conversations with people who are looking for what you have to offer. This requires that you develop the skill of note taking and intense listening.
As you ask the survey questions, you can echo back their answers with absolute precision. This allows you to begin to build trust with people as you will be learning how to meet their needs, and, by echoing back what they say, they will feel heard, and will believe that the logical next step is to follow your leadership.
You will want to do at least 100 of these types of surveys as it will not only give you much insight into your prospects’ needs, wants, and desires around what you are offering, but it will help you gain a huge amount of confidence about what you are offering and how you can help meet needs
Some other tools that are not widely known that will enhance your market research are Quantcast, Alltop, and Google Trends.
Quantcast is an online measurement service that tracks online behaviors and organizes and analyzes who is frequenting various websites. Take a look at the sites that an audience frequents. This allows you to observe how the sites are marketing to their audiences.
Alltop will show you the top headlines and the most visited blogs in your category. You simply type in the keyword or category.
Google Trends allows you to compare various search terms against one another. It will graph the history of search volume as well as the relevant headlines and news stories that have to do with your search.
In the next article, we will take a look at how to “narrow your niche” so that you develop your ideal prospect. Be on the lookout for that!