The Niche Marketing Blog

Tools for understanding and reaching your market

Archive for the ‘market research’ Category

Top 10 Mistakes in Conducting Online Market Research

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Marketing Planning – Don’t Do SWOT

[Editor’s note: In both strategic, and market, planning processes, I have used the SWOT analysis on several occasions, and with much success. However, the author of this article does bring up several valid points regarding the shortcomings, and potential hazards, of the SWOT process. I have found that, the smaller the business, the less effective SWOT becomes. What are your thoughts? Have you ever used a SWOT analysis in your marketing (or niche marketing) planning? Feel free to share your thoughts here. ~Scott]

Swot analysis

Swot analysis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a popular framework for developing a marketing strategy. A Google search for “SWOT” and “planning” turned up almost 93,000 hits (August 2004), most all of which laud the use of SWOT. Some students have said that it is the most important thing they learned at the Wharton School.

Although SWOT is promoted as a useful technique in numerous marketing texts, it is not universally praised: One expert said that he preferred to think of SWOT as a “Significant Waste of Time.”

The problem with SWOT is more serious than the fact that it wastes time. Because it mixes idea generation with evaluation, it is likely to reduce the range of strategies that are considered. In addition, people who use SWOT might conclude that they have done an adequate job of planning and ignore such sensible things as defining the firm’s objectives or calculating ROI for alternate strategies. I have observed this when business school students use SWOT on cases.

What does the evidence say? Perhaps the most notable indication is that I have been unable to find any evidence to support the use of SWOT.

Two studies have examined SWOT. Menon et al. (1999) asked 212 managers from Fortune 1000 companies about recent marketing strategies implemented in their firms. The findings showed that SWOT harmed performance. When Hill and Westbrook (1997) examined the use of SWOT by 20 companies in the UK in 1993-94, they concluded that the process was so flawed that it was time for a “product recall.”

One advocate of SWOT asked: if not SWOT, then what? Borrowing from corporate strategic planning literature, a better option for planners is to follow a formal written process to:


  1. Set objectives
  2. Generate alternative strategies
  3. Evaluate alternative strategies
  4. Monitor results
  5. Gain commitment among the stakeholders during each step of this process.


I describe this 5-step procedure in Armstrong (1982). Evidence on the value of this planning process, obtained from 28 validation studies (summarized in Armstrong 1990), showed that it led to better corporate performance:


  • 20 studies found higher performance with formal planning
  • 5 found no difference
  • 3 found formal planning to be detrimental


This support was obtained even though the formal planning in the studies typically used only some of the steps. Furthermore, the steps were often poorly implemented and the conditions were not always ideal for formal planning.

Given the evidence, SWOT is not justified under any circumstances. Instead, use the comprehensive 5-step planning procedure.


Armstrong, J. S. (1982) “The Value of Formal Planning for Strategic Decisions,” Strategic Management Journal, 3, 197-211.

Armstrong, J. S. (1990), “Review of Corporate Strategic Planning,” Journal of Marketing, 54, 114-119.

Hill, T. & R. Westbrook (1997), “SWOT Analysis: It’s Time for a Product Recall,” Long Range Planning, 30, No. 1, 46-52.

Menon, A. et al. (1999), “Antecedents and Consequences of Marketing Strategy Making,” Journal of Marketing, 63, 18-40.

The two papers (cited in this article) written by me can be found in full-text at


Enhanced by Zemanta

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

R.I.P. Google Reader

Image representing Google Reader as depicted i...

Google Reader going away on July 1st, 2013

Niche marketers rely on a steady stream of new, niche-oriented content to fill their web sites, blogs and social media posts. For most business owners, it is a challenge to create that content, with many opting to curate existing content rather than creating from scratch.

One of the best ways to curate that content was through a wonderful, free service that has been offered by Google, called Google Reader.  With Google Reader you could selected specific RSS feeds from around the Internet and have them neatly, and cleanly, delivered to your email account on a daily basis.

Sadly, the folks over at Google have decided that  Google Reader is going away.  As of July 1st, 2013, Google Reader will be history.  I’m not a happy camper about this announcement. Google Reader has been a workhorse for me over the years and I will sorely miss it’s ease of use and clean, simple format.

Fortunately, there are some alternatives to Google Reader. Specifically, there is Newsblur, NetVibes, and Feedly. I have not explored either Newsblur, or NetVIbes, but have begun using Feedly and, I must admit, I am starting to get used to it.

So, while I will miss Google Reader, I am glad to see that there are some alternatives on the Internet which will performs many of the same functions. You’ve been a good friend, Reader. May you rest in peace.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Market Research Techniques – How to Gather Data for Your Business

Marketing Research with Tumblr

Marketing Research (Photo credit: dmhoro)

[Editor’s note: Today’s guest article takes a look at some tied and true, simple, and effective ways of collecting marketing data for you business. Have you tried any of these methods? How did they work out for you? Did you discover any new information about your market or customers? Feel free to leave a comment below.  ~Scott]


Market research is indeed a good step if you are deciding to put up a small business or if you want to improve the performance of your business. One of the mistakes of some businesspeople is to assume that they pretty know their market well and disregards market research as a very good step in knowing what your clients need and want.

Conducting a good research on your market will also help you outwit competitors as this will be a good way to learn firsthand from your target market on what they want, what they prefer so you can conceptualize on the improvements that you want to do with your products. If you are thinking of conducting a research for your business, and you want to explore the market research techniques and methods that you can use, here are some ideas that may be of help.

1. Surveys. Surveys are among the most common and one of the best ways to gather data for your research. Of course, aside from getting answers from direct from the individual, you can also solicit a good and specific answer especially if you can ask follow up questions.

You can however do the surveys in many other ways as well. You can do surveys through questionnaire form and interview the person directly, or you can mail them, although mailing them generates lesser response than doing the interview personally. You can also do it as an online survey or through telephone. Of course, your choice of these market research techniques can be based on the cost, the turnout, as well as the reliability of the data gathered.

2. Focus group discussions. This is also another way of gathering data for your business research. This actually involves discussing a certain topic in a group and collecting their ideas about it. The discussion is then documented, either by either videotaping or by observing. This is also a fast technique to get data as well.

3. Interviewing the respondents personally. Indeed, if you want to know what your market is like and what are their thoughts, you can go and interview them personally. With personal interview, you can also ask open-ended questions that allow you to gather more data. Unlike those with questionnaires, these are usually unstructured interviews. These however may be less reliable than surveys and focus group discussions.

Aside from these data gathering methods, you can also use other market research techniques such as gathering data from free secondary sources and then do the primary data gathering if you think you need more specific data. However, going for the primary data is a good choice in your research especially if you want to outsmart your competitors, as this will often give you good and accurate data on the behavior of your market.

With accurate data, you will also be guided correctly on what to do or improve. Indeed, if you want to move ahead of the competition, do your market research. Techniques, methods and strategies in doing so are readily available and you can even do so with lesser costs as well.

Carolyn Anderson did a market research to improve her business. If you want an easier way to market research, check out faster, easier market research. Also check out Niche Annihilation Method, where you can find tips on how to make money online by having your niche website.

Article Source:—How-to-Gather-Data-for-Your-Business&id=5164871

Enhanced by Zemanta

Technorati Tags: , ,

Market Research Remains a Key to Growth

By Scott Spooner

The folks over at have recently completed a study looking at  the effects of market research on company growth and profitability. The results surprised the study team:

To our surprise, we found a clear — even dramatic — correlation between systematic research and firm growth and profitability. The more frequently you do research, the faster you grow and the more profitable you are.

The following infographic helps to summarize their findings.

In short, the more systematic research a business engages in, the the greater growth and profitability that business is likely to realize. The research team believes that this correlation is straightforward: the more you learn about your customers, the more you’ll be able to anticipate their wants and needs, and the sooner you’ll be able to react.

As the economy continues to remain soft, this is good advice for niche marketers who are trying to gain a foot hold in their market.



Enhanced by Zemanta

Technorati Tags: ,

Niche Marketing – 4 Steps to Deciding Your Online Niche Market

Niche marketing strategy

Image via Wikipedia

[Editor’s note: If you are just starting out as an on-line niche marketer then you’re first step is to identify the particular niche market where you want to enter and compete. The following four steps will help you identify that niche market and start you off on the right foot. ~Scott]


Deciding on the right marketing niche is essential to your online success.

A marketing niche is defined as a targeted segment of a market in which your products are focused specifically to satisfy the needs of that segment. An example of an online marketing niche is a pet store selling only dog products instead of selling product for various types pets, like cats, dogs, and rabbits etc.

The four steps to finding your online niche are: choose an area you have knowledge about; have a passion for the area; discover potential customer’s unmet needs; and think of ways to meet those needs.

1. Choose an area you have knowledge about

It is best to choose an area you are familiar with. This does not mean that you cannot enter an area that you are not acquainted with; in doing so you need to take the time apply yourself to both learning and gaining experience in your chosen field. If you have knowledge, experience and expertise in your target market, potential customers will recognize those qualities – that helps to establish trust.

2. Have a passion for your area

Passion supplies energy to complete the task at hand and makes it more enjoyable. As an online marketer it is vital that your job does not wear you down and leaves you wanting to quit. Yet, passion in an area that is not bringing in revenue does not make sense. You are in this business to earn money, not to enjoy yourself and loose your hard earned money at end of the day. So choose something that is both enjoyable and gives you an income you desire.

3. Discover potential customer’s unmet needs

Fellow marketers may not satisfy all the needs of their customers. It is your duty to find out what those unmet needs are. This is done in a number of ways including, research of the target area, observation of behaviour patterns, and direct questioning of potential buyers. Through thorough research you will establish what kind of product is needed to satisfy your potential customers.

4. Think of ways to meet those needs

This process begins with the generation of an idea through imagination. This idea conceptualizes a specific product or service to solve the problem using the information gained through research. You can source the product if it already exists or you can create your own product or service. The resulting product or service is than marketed with confidence to your potential customers.

Do you want to learn more about internet marketing basics? If so, download my brand new eBook, Newbies Must Know, Newbies Must Know.

Article Source:—4-Steps-to-Deciding-Your-Online-Niche-Market&id=4794834


Enhanced by Zemanta

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Review: How to Market to People Not Like You

I have recently read the book, “How to Market to People Not Like You”, by Kelly McDonald. This is not your traditional, ho-hum book on marketing. Rather, it is an eye-opening read that changes the marketing paradigm with an approach that is both fresh and exciting.

McDonald focuses on the importance of identifying the “unlikely” customer – those customers who are not like you – how to tap into those customer segments with confidence and how to avoid mistakes and pitfalls when marketing to new customer groups. She has distilled this process into what she calls the “seven steps for selling to new and unfamiliar customers”.

McDonald asserts that, who you are is not defined by the color of your skin or the shape of your eyes or what generation you belong to; it’s about values. It’s about understanding that different groups have differing values. Traditional marketing approaches focus on demographics like gender, race, age, lifestyle and socio-economic groupings. To these, McDonald offers less conventional examples to the mix, including:

  • Rural vs. metro
  • Military vs. civilian
  • Stay-at-home Moms vs. working Moms
  • Home schooled children vs. children who attend public schools
  • Foreign-born residents vs. U.S. born residents
  • Political views and religious beliefs
  • Vegans vs. meat-eaters

Each group has a set of values that is different from their counterparts. As a marketer, if you can recognize and understand these key values, and their differences amongst groups, you can then design effective marketing messages to reach the members of those groups, thus creating the opportunity for expanding both your customer base and market share.

I especially like the discussion about the differing values that each generation (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, etc.) have, and how marketing messages must be tailored to each group in order to be effective.

Using real-world examples from successful business owners and managers, “How to Market to People Not Like You” demonstrates how to create a deep, emotional connection between your products and new customer groups. The book is full of examples of successful – and not so successful – ads and marketing tactics from companies such as Toyota, BMW, Harley Davidson, AT&T, Apple, and many others.

The latest Census numbers are going to show that the U.S. population is the most diverse that is has ever been. As such, thinking about diversity will be more important than ever. Whether you are a niche marketer, a mass marketer, or somewhere in between, this book will provide you with insights into reaching new customer pools by tapping into the values of these consumer groups. By doing so, you’ll reach their hearts and minds and, ultimately, their wallets and purses.

This 209-page book is an easy to read, step by step guide, loaded with tactics that can be implemented just as easily by the owner of a local retail shop or the V.P. of Marketing of a Fortune 500 business.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is responsible for expanding their sales base and attracting customers unlike the ones they already have.


(Please note that the above link is an “affiliate link”. If you purchase the book using the above link, I will receive a commission on that purchase. If that bothers you, do not purchase through the above link. Rather, go straight to your favorite on-line book seller and purchase the book directly).

Enhanced by Zemanta

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Niche Marketing Video Round-up

It’s been a while since I have posted a “round-up” of niche marketing videos. So, without further ado, here is a short collection of niche marketing videos for your education and enjoyment. The first three are from, while the last one is from the Headless Professor.

If you are new to the concept of niche marketing, these short videos will get you up to speed quickly.

Niche Marketing: Finding Hot Markets If you’re stuck trying to find niche ideas for your niche marketing, here are some free tools that I use to find hot trends that may help you as well. You can also download a free report of the hottest niche marketing trends of 2008 a…

Niche Marketing: Finding Traffic Need help with your niche market research? Here’s a nifty tool that can help. Visit our website at http for more ideas and a free report of the hot trends in 2008.

Niche Marketing: Niche Market Research The key to niche market research is finding the needs of your target market. Watch over my shoulder as I dive into market research for a niche. Need more ideas? Download a free report on hot niche trends on http

niche marketing

How to target a niche based upon market segmentation: demographic, psychographic and benefit.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Technorati Tags: , ,

70 Percent Of Local Businesses Use Facebook For Marketing

Niche Marketing and Facebook

Image via CrunchBase

Strapped for time and cash, small local businesses are increasingly turning to free and low-cost social media tools for their marketing efforts. Not surprisingly, the world’s biggest social networking site tops of the list of preferred tools.

Seventy percent of local businesses use Facebook for marketing, according to a new report from Merchant Circle, a network of U.S. local business owners. This represents a 20% increase over the previous year.

The report notes that for the first time, Facebook is being used more than Google by local businesses for online marketing.

Facebook also seems to have an advantage in the location check-in space, with 32% of small businesses saying they use the feature, compared with just 9% who have tried Foursquare.

This new data comes just as ChompOn, a group buying site, revealed its own data showing that Facebook updates are three times more effective than tweets when it comes to getting consumers to make purhcases online.

Nearly 40% of respondents in the Merchant Circle survey said they used Twitter for marketing, putting the microblogging site behind Facebook and Google.

The increased use of social marketing by small businesses should come as no surprise, considering the massive popular adoption of social networks and the low – often nonexistent – costs of using them. Web marketing companies in general have also been courting local businesses, about 51% of whom say that they’re cold-called about online marketing services at least once per week.

The Merchant Circle survey is based on a random sample of 8,456 small business business owners in the United States.

Article Source:

About the Author:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Technorati Tags: , , ,

How To Write Article Headlines That Get The Click

Headlines and Niche Marketing

Image via Wikipedia

[Editor’s note: Today’s guest article focuses on the use of headlines for attracting traffic to your website, blog, or sales page.  This is the lifeblood for any niche marketer. Without a steady stream of qualified traffic, you simply won’t have the number of sales you need to sustain your business. Following are several good tips for identifying great headline ideas.  ~Scott]

Writing totally original article headlines that get the click can be real tough sometimes. However, thankfully, there are some shortcuts that can help you write powerful headlines for your articles.

The easiest way to start writing great article headlines is to copy the top pros in your niche and adapt their headline to your article. How do you do that? There are several sources of this kind of inspiration:

1. Go to Yahoo News or MSN News or Google News and do a search for the keyword you are targeting in your article. Take some of the headlines from their articles and put in the information for your topic and see how you feel about it. These three do extensive testing to see how much their headlines are being clicked. Their headline writers are real pros. Copy their headlines and substitute their subject with the subject matter of your specific article.

2. Go to YouTube and punch in your keyword. You will find some good ideas there. Look for the video with the most views. People don’t click on videos unless the title attracts their attention. Since these are videos, not articles, you can conceivably use the popular video headline as your article headline and no one will mind.

3. You can also go to, and other book selling sites. Look at the titles for the top selling books, ebooks, DVD’s and CD’s. Base your article around the top titles and make a headline out of the title if appropriate.

4. and other magazine sites can be a good source of article headlines that you can get from the covers they show for niche magazines.

5. Magazine directories for Yahoo, MSN, Google and others can be a great source of headline ideas.

6. Then there are specific magazines that are known for their great headline writers like The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, National Enquirer, World News, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and others. Look for the top magazines in your niche and adapt their stories and headlines for them to your article.

7. Be sure to look at niche specific magazines by typing in your niche + directory or niche + magazines into Google and look at the results.

8. Don’t forget about the newsletters in your niche. Do a search for any of the above ideas and replace the word magazines with newsletters. There are many paid and free newsletters that have some really great headlines and article topics.

9. Next, you can look at the Google Adwords ads that you’ll find on the right side of the page of any Google search. These are paid ads so you know people are putting their best into the headlines. Be careful with these ads though. Many people don’t know what they are doing. Watch the top Adwords ads over a span of several days, if not several weeks. If you find an ad being repeated over time it’s probably getting a lot of clicks.

10. Google Adwords ads are another source of some really good inspiration if you click on the ad and look at the headlines they are using in their sales letters, on the website, landing page, menu items, etc. Adwords ads are placed in order of popularity from top to bottom by Google so you know the top ads are the ones people are clicking on the most. Be careful here because it is possible to buy the top position by paying more. On the other hand, if an ad stays at the top for a long period of time, it must be working or they would get tired of paying the big bucks for something that doesn’t sell.

11. The last but certainly not the least source of good ideas are the social networking sites. Look at sites like, propeller and others to see what people are rating as the best. Look for which ones get the most views, the ‘likes’ and other ways of expressing popularity. You’ll find some great ideas there!

Hope that helps get your wheels turning and you find some great inspiration to write article headlines that get the click.

Article Source:

About the Author:
For more ideas on how to write attention getting headlines and articles that help you sell your products click here. You can get a free course on how to make money online here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,