The Niche Marketing Blog

Tools for understanding and reaching your market

Archive for May, 2010

Going Mobile

Graph showing smartphone marketshare for 2009

Image via Wikipedia

By Scott Spooner

In 1971,  British rock group, The Who, released their seminal album, Who’s Next, which featured a song titled Going Mobile. This was a song about a guy who decided to give up his rooted existence and go on the road.

39 years later, it looks like he’s got lots of company.

Recent research indicates that, on a daily basis, more people are accessing the Internet via their smart phones, than there are people emailing. That’s an astounding figure considering that smart phones weren’t even around a decade ago.

So, “mobile” has arrived and while not all pieces of the mobile landscape have been figured out, the smart business owners are already looking to mobile marketing strategies in an effort to get ahead of the curve.

What can you do to begin the process for your own business? Start by making sure that your web site is formatted for mobile devices.  If you are running a WordPress blog, it is a fairly simple process of installing one of several available plug-ins. I use WPTouch, but you can choose whichever one suits your tastes.

If you are running a web site, you will have to get into a little more programming. Contact your web site administrator and talk with him/her about adding some code that will allow the site to be formatted for mobile devices. Be aware that you will mostly likely have to set up an additional hosting service for the mobile site (I will cover this in another post).

Whatever you do (or do not do), understand that “mobile” is not only here to stay, but will most likely be the dominate platform of the near future.

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Top 10 Mistakes in Conducting Online Market Research

By Zachary Wilson

1. Not knowing what you don’t know
Its easy to do online surveys these days. Too easy. It may be so cheap and easy that you do it without understanding the basics and end up with misleading answers that send your business down the wrong path. This is worse than never doing any research in the first place. Spend a little time and get to know what you don’t know about market research. A basic review of the following topics is a great start.

  • Sampling and sampling error
  • Quantitative vs. qualitative research
  • Question bias / question design
  • Response rates / confidence levels
  • Questionnaire coding
  • Why people take surveys (social contract)

Some great books on these subjects are:
Mail and Internet Surveys: The Tailored Design Method” by Don A. Dillman
Asking Questions: A Definitive Guide to Questionnaire Design” by Norman Bradburn, Seymour Sudman, Brian Wansink

2. Not eliminating sampling errors
Now that you know what sampling error is you can understand why it is critical to conducting meaningful market research. Many of the online surveys you see today are full of potential sampling errors. Don’t be one of them. Take the time to develop a good sample and then make sure you get as many of those people as possible to your survey. This is probably the biggest difference between professional market research and your do-it-yourselfers. The pros take the time and money to develop good samples and then make sure that they get good response rates. You can to if you put in the effort.

  • Always use a true random sample
  • Tracking your respondents (PINs)
  • Program the survey to eliminate duplicates and respondents with bad intentions
  • Check the data for oddities (clean the data of illegitimate records)
  • Use incentives (does not have to be monetary, see social contract)

3. Making decisions with inaccurate information
If you never understood any of # 1 and # 2 it is a good bet your survey is useless. Worse than that you may think it is telling you what to do with your important business decisions. Making decisions with inaccurate information is worse than taking a guess.

4. Writing bad questionnaires
You might get everything else right and then go and write a bad questionnaire. Lots of online surveys have at least one bad question. What is a bad question? It’s any of the following:

  • Biased questions
  • Unanswerable questions (impossible to know the answer)
  • Questions with two meanings
  • Hard to understand questions (way to long, strange use of words)
  • Dumb questions (asking about something the researcher should already know, or has already asked)

5. Programming a hard to take survey
After you have spent all that time creating a good sample and writing good questions don’t ruin it by programming a hard to use survey. One of my top gripes is forcing respondents to complete every answer. Too much of this is going to get you either a contrived answer or the respondent leaving. Neither is good.

  • Don’t force non-critical questions
  • Don’t have non-standard buttons
  • Don’t use non-standard technologies (java applets, etc.)

6. Going cheap
Both the good and bad thing about online market research is that it can be much less expensive than in the past. The bad of this is that it is just too easy to conduct flawed market research. Many of the above items cost time and money (sampling, questionnaire design, etc.) Spend the time and money to do it right. Even better hire a quality market research firm to do it for you. Either way you will save money in the long run by conducting quality market research.

7. Confusing social networking with quantitative market research
Talking with lots of people (social networking) might gain you valuable qualitative information but it is not quantitative market research. The difference is qualitative information rarely represents all of your audience and gives you individual opinions and ideas. Quantitative research on the other hand is designed to represent all of your audience and gives you answers that you can know reflects all of your customers. Don’t confuse the two. Social networking can be useful but understand its limitations.

8. Being overly “cute” with the survey tool
Your market research is supposed to gather meaningful information about your target audience. It is not supposed to impress them with all the high technology you can master. Keep your survey technology as simple as possible to reduce excluding respondents that are not up to speed with the latest and greatest.

  • Keep Flash and JavaScript to a minimum (use them but not in critical areas, always provide alternatives.)
  • Use tried and true web technologies

9. Relying on only one source of information
Market research is a snapshot of opinions at a certain time. If your research results in wildly different answers than you were anticipating it is wise to confirm these conclusions with more data.

  • Conduct another survey
  • Look for corroborating data

10. Ignoring your market research
If you go to all the trouble to conduct a good study then have a plan to do something with that information. Too many organizations will conduct market research for one reason or another and when they get information back just sit on it. Don’t be the one who ends up saying “Wow, if we had just done what our market research told us we wouldn’t be in this bad position”. Before you conduct any online research have a plan as to what you will do with it.

Zachary Wilson is Vice President and Web Manager of Wilson Research Group (a small Silicon Valley market research firm) and has been conducting online surveys for over 10 years. This article targets those who are not market research professionals but want to conduct professional surveys.

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Surveying Your Customers

Here’s a short video that discusses the importance of surveying your customers as part of an overall market research strategy.

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How to Get Started With Niche Marketing

By Dustin Heath

Niche marketing is targeting out a specific crowd and then producing products specially for this crowd. It can also mean selling products that large companies don’t usually sell. This is done for a few reasons; first, the manufacturing probably won’t be as expensive, not as many of these products have to be made, and the profit from sales of these products goes more to one company rather than the other ten that also make the product. Niche marketing has many perks, but one problem is not knowing where to get started on your business venture. The article below gives a few basic things to think about when first starting out. These are the usual first steps of every successful business.

Choosing A Target
The first thing to do is target out your specific group that you want to gear your company toward. You want to pick a fairly broad group, but then again one small enough so that only your company (very few competitors) will manufacture products for this group. For example, maybe you want to pick out a group that wears a specific type of clothing, and you know that large companies don’t make lots of clothing for this group. Your company may want to think about making the clothing for this group. So pick your target first.

Pick A ProductAfter you’ve got your group picked out, you want to start thinking about the product(s) you will manufacture and sell for this group. Clothing? Accessories? Home decor? Pet supplies? This part can be tricky as well because you want a product that is rarely made, but you also want one that people are going to want to buy. You also don’t want your product to be really expensive to manufacture and sell, because this will end up costing you more money than you’re making in the end.

Pick A Price
Choosing a price to sell your product at is very important. You want profit, but you want to sell at a price low enough so that your consumers will be happy and keep coming back. If you choose a product that is fairly inexpensive to make and sell, you won’t have to jack your prices up so much. You might want to think about making your product cost as much as the manufacturing plus half. So lets say you are selling a large toy that costs one hundred dollars to make. If you sell at one hundred and fifty dollars, you will earn back your manufacturing cost plus half extra, so you profited fifty dollars in one sale.

Evaluating Your Decisions
You will now want to decide how successful your choices have been. Is the product selling? Is it popular and are people interested? Do people enjoy your prices? Are they telling their friends? Is the money you’re making worth this effort? If not, you should consider changing some things. If you’re satisfied, sit on your decisions a while more and see if they continue to work out well.

Dustin Heath recommends that you visit to learn how you can start your own home-based business earning multiple streams of income with Plug-In Profit Site – Complete Money Making Site Setup FREE!

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