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Business News Articles

Use a Marketing Study to Evaluate Your Business Idea

Entrepreneurs tend to have dozens of business ideas rolling around in their heads at any given time. The trick, of course, is selecting the right idea to start up at the right time. To evaluate the viability of an idea, especially a new or innovative product or service, conduct a limited marketing study. A comprehensive marketing study should be completed before launching any business, but the basic steps can be modified for a basic analysis of the potential of a business idea.
The first step in evaluating a business idea is determining your market. Consider who is most likely to benefit from your business idea and why. Jot down ideas regarding the demographics (age, gender, income range, job, hobbies, etc.) of your target group. Then, conduct some basic research to estimate the approximate size of your market. Once you determine that your business idea is logically viable, you will need to conduct more in-depth research into who your target is and how to reach them, but for now you just need a clear picture of whether there are enough potential customers to support your venture.
Once you are clear on who your target is, look into the alternatives they have for filling the need your product fills. That is, what are they buying now to get the same benefit? Your direct competition are those businesses that sell pretty much exactly what you sell, your indirect competition sells products that provide the same benefit, but in a different manner. For example, an organizational consultant has direct competitors in other org consultants, and indirect competition in organizational books, training videos, websites, and retail stores that specialize in organization.
It is important to look closely at the existing competition for several reasons. Knowing your competition will provide greater insight into the tried and true methods for running your type of business. It is also critical to know how crowded the market is. If there are 50 Mexican restaurants in a 5-mile radius, the market is probably too crowded to support another. To gain market share for a new product, it is important to distinguish your version in some significant way from the other options. Whether your unique selling proposition is based on quality, price, features, or some other factor, you can’t promote that difference without a clear understanding of the competing products available.  
Knowing your industry is also important. Just about every industry has professional associations that keep their members up-to-date on the future and changes happening within the trade. A viable business idea should be in the early stages of the product life cycle — building a market base and increasing demand. These associations also generally compile averages for their industry, an excellent tool for developing reasonable estimates of profitability. Generally, new entrepreneurs grossly underestimate the cost of actually running the business and develop profitability estimates far beyond the realistic. Well-researched industry averages will generally help you develop a more accurate picture of the profit margins that can be expected in your specific industry.
Once the basic background information is gathered, test what you know. One of the best ways to determine whether a business idea is viable is to go to the source — your potential customers.  Develop a survey to evaluate your idea that addresses the actual data you need to know. The questions you include should be relevant to the product only, not the demographics of the people you ask (segmenting your target market is a critical step, but should be done in detail later in the planning process). Avoid leading questions like “Do you like pepperoni pizza better than anchovy?” Instead, construct questions that illicit the respondents’ actual opinions or habits. Follow up yes and no questions with whys, how often, and the like. Keep each question limited to a single point — that is, do not ask if they like pizza and salad, rather make that two questions. Be sure the questions are easy to understand. Provide clear answer options, when possible, and be sure to include a space for “other” answers.
Keep the survey relatively short and to the point. Be sure the overall responses will tell you what you need to know about whether your idea will fly. Once you are satisfied with the questionnaire, select people from your expected target market to survey. Running the survey by your family and friends is good for quality purposes, but your moral support staff is not going to give you a realistic understanding of the viability of your idea. Be sure you are asking the right people the right questions.
Don’t be offended or defensive about negative responses. Instead, probe for more information about why they think your idea won’t work. It is very common for successful business ideas to change dramatically during the planning stages, so be alert for legitimate criticisms and look for ways to improve on your idea.
Performing a simple market analysis like this isn’t the end of your marketing research, but it can be very effective in weeding out those ideas that are not likely to succeed.

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Internet Marketing: The Buyer and Sellers Dream

To perk up your business activities, you have posted your ads in print media such as various glossy magazines, newspapers and colourful shopping catalogues; you have tried expensive television airtime complete with smiling blonde models and dashing corporate hunks. These are all too expensive and exposure is limited, lay-outs are outdated as fast as you can blink and you have to do a lot of things over and over again without much return on sales, so that next time you look at the audit sheet you learn you’ve spent more on useless ads than the amount your company earned.
The worldwide web is the new marketing paradise. At the onset, only a few of the corporate giants dared to advertise online. Now, even the newest and smallest of business ventures can participate in e-commerce and pocket a few sales, if the ad lay-out is good and the marketing strategy is efficient – and it may even get more sales than in a real showroom. One can begin selling products as merchandisers on online shopping sites or comparative shopping sites, if your product line is in that category. You may later upgrade by setting up your own shopping website as your inventory list increases. For businesses that sell products and services that are not department store items, space may be available at various shopping and classified advertising websites and you may even find some offering free, but limited, space. Placing small ad banners or promotional widgets on social networking sites or search engine ad pages, may be the most rewarding of all, if you cannot afford to maintain your own website. If you have tested internet marketing through the simple ride-on method and had a few sales to speak of, then it is time to dream of bigger things and maximize the pleasures of the real internet marketing paradise.
Setting up your own internet marketing website begins with planning your promotional techniques and lining up an array of interesting advertising blurbs for your click-able banners that would link your website to the major social networks and search engine browsers. Create a homepage lay-out which is interesting enough to make a visitor want to stay and read more, or surf all your pages. Include a forum page where users may leave feedback and comments, this will give you ideas on how to improve your site, or get requests from prospective clients. Offer bonus coupons to frequent visitors and referrals and run constant product promotions or contests. Offer spaces to affiliates or item sellers related to, but not a competitor, of your product line. This will make your website appear more attractive and increase your marketing network. Your product photos should be shown in the best color resolutions to make them appear better looking than the actual piece if possible. Moving videos of items are the best, but eat up a lot of disk space. Never display an item without a nice caption and complete product description and specification. Price or price range is a must as, without this information, your product is just one more item to admire but does not sell. Get reliable e-commerce software for sales conversion – a shopping cart that drops the sold item ready for payment by credit card linked to your site. With internet marketing, it is easy to close a sale right away. You don’t even have to be there to seal the deal, as the web host does it for you online while you work on your business offline.
The surge of internet marketing benefits both seller and shopper. The sale is consummated by just a few clicks of the mouse and your keyboard and the virtual cash register keeps clocking up sales at an amazing speed. For the shopper, it saves the trouble of road traffic and an exhausting day of walking square miles of shopping malls. The internet marketing boom is attributable to the increasing need of people to conserve time and resources, so shopping on the web provides convenience for busy individuals and may be done at any time of day, which is both beneficial to the buyer and seller. The worldwide web is in its finest hours, providing opportunities from the biggest to the smallest businesses.

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Online Business

Marketing Your Business or Riding a Bike?

So many would-be entrepreneurs start out with a business idea that they are passionate about, and have dreams of making a difference for others and their families. They plan to market their business on the Internet, but get discouraged because they have no idea where to start. They may spend hours researching and trying to figure it out, or they spend thousands of dollars on the latest and greatest promise for making big money online, only to become disillusioned when it doesn’t work the way they planned.
Many of them give up. Does this sound like you? It may, but you don’t have to be one of those would-be entrepreneurs who gives up. You CAN learn to market your business online. Anyone can learn, and when you do, your life and your business will be forever changed because you can harness the power of the Internet and social media to grow your list of clients, increase your sales, and leverage your time through automated systems and processes that will allow you to spend more time doing those things you love to do.
Learning to Ride a Bike…
School is out for the summer now, and day-camp doesn’t start until next week. So, my kids are home for the next two days, and my husband and I are trying to keep them busy and still manage to get a little work in too. As I sit in my driveway, laptop in hand, (having a business that allows me to work from home provides this benefit of flexibility) I watch my six-year-old ride his bike. We just went through this learning-to-ride-a bike process with our son.
Do you remember when you first learned to ride a bike? You were probably excited and a little scared, but you gave it a try. It was difficult to coordinate all the things you had to do: balance on two wheels; peddle; steer; watch where you were going; control your speed; use the breaks and stop without falling. And I know, if you were like me, you fell down many times and probably got a few scrapes and bruises.
Then, you finally started to have some success. Slowly, it started getting a bit easier. You peddled a few feet before falling down. And when you finally put it all together, and took off on that bike, there was no stopping no turning back. Just like my son did on his bike. He took off and went faster and faster, and became more confident on his bike. Now, it’s effortless for him. He just picks up the bike, climbs on and goes. And it’s the same for you. Decades later, you can still pick up a bike and ride it with skill.
Marketing Your Business is Like Learning to Ride a Bike
So, the way I see it, learning how to market your business online is like learning to ride a bike. There’s a learning curve and you need to coordinate your efforts, but it’s not terribly difficult, and once you do…there’s no stopping you.
There are certain core strategies and processes (especially in online marketing) that once learned and put into practice, are never forgotten and can be replicated over and over again. Often, there is a sequence of events (such as with a product launch) that can become so systematic that when followed every time will almost guarantee your success.
If you’ve been trying to grow your business online and feel overwhelmed by trying to put all the pieces together, I’ve got excellent news for you that will simplify your life, and your marketing efforts. I can simplify it down to five major steps. These five steps are part of what I call the NetMarketing Map. When you’ve mastered these five steps, you will have a successful online business.
Lets take a look at each step:
1. Get Online: attract the right visitors and draw them into your site.
2. Get Traffic: Use simple, proven methods to get ideal clients to your site.
3. Get Leads: Build a list of raving fans who trust you as an expert
4. Get Sales: Create a buzz for your products and services and close the sale.
5. Get Leverage: Maximize your sales and grow your income to greater levels.
If you work through each part of the NetMarketing Map, step-by-step, and keep it simple at first, you will learn how to market your business online. Everything you do will fall into one of these steps on the Map.
Don’t try to go it alone either. Find an accountability partner who’s working through the same challenges in their business; join a Mastermind group; or work with a consultant or coach who can walk with you as you learn to “ride the bike” called Internet marketing.
Just as I held onto the back of my son’s bike as he learned to ride, working with another who can help you stay focused and on track will shorten the learning curve, make the process more enjoyable, and accelerate your results.

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Online Business

How Anyone Can Profit From Internet Marketing

If you can think up a concept for your business you can profit from Internet marketing. In actual fact it does not matter how old or young you are, there is something for everybody when they start an Internet business. You need to develop a successful system, stick with it and duplicate your success.
The 5 keys to success are as follows:
1. Develop a concept: your business idea or concept is very important. It is one of your key foundations of your business. It is important to like what you are doing and not just be in it for the money. Of course you want to make a profit; it is a business after all. However bear in mind you will be spending quite a bit of time to create and run your business. for this reason you should love your topic and be enthusiastic about it. In this way you will succeed because you are doing something you love to do.
2. Define your market: Understanding your market is one of the critical aspects of your business. You will need to analyze your visitors and be in tune with their wants and needs. You will also need to know where they go and what publications they are interested so you know where to market your business.
3. Set goals: setting goals is important, when you set goals and decide on timelines to complete them you will stay focused on completing them and progressing with your business.
4. Develop an action plan: you will need to set up an action plan to achieve your goals. The easiest way to do this will be to create milestones; for example 3 months, 6 months, one year and set goals for each milestone. You can then think of ways to accomplish these objectives. Put these methods into an action plan and record all your results good and bad.
5. Duplicate your successes learn from your mistakes: one of the fun things about business is that no two days are the same you will make mistakes and you will have successes. You need to learn from your mistakes and pick yourself up after catastrophes. An example if this would be Donald Trump, you may or may not like him but many people have respect for him when it comes to business. He has had spectacular crashes but has always picked himself up and risen to glory again. This is because he never let mistakes and crashes crush him.
So make your system with these five points and start enjoying the thrills and spills of Internet Marketing no matter who you are and how old you may be.

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The Business

Importance of Marketing Research

So, you have a brilliant idea for a new product and decide to start a business around it. You have been in the industry for years and just know that this is the big breakthrough in the field that will be met with excitement. You have discussed the idea with your family and they all think it is genius and will definitely work. Your friends also support you. You start putting money into product development and finally your “baby” is ready to be introduced to the world. However, the big day comes and your bright invention is not selling to the consumer. What went wrong?
Talking to a group of people was an attempt to collect data in a qualitative manner through an open conversation. The direction was right. However, the mistake lay in the people, whose insights were gathered. Your family and friends are likely to be biased to your own opinion. They heard you talking about the business idea before and might have already accepted your own view that it will succeed. Your focus group participants or online survey respondents should be unbiased and represent the potential customer base for the product being introduced to the market.
One of the biggest and costly mistakes that a business can make is to overlook the important insight from its potential customer. As an expert in the field, your knowledge is only based on the past experience, which might be outdated. What consumers valued in the past might be completely different from what they value now as values themselves are subjective and are time sensitive. Without reaching out to your customer and doing a “reality check”, you might end up relying on data that is no longer valid and make the decision that is inconsistent with consumers’ perception.
Throughout the years, there have been numerous examples of such “great idea” failures. One of such examples is the decision to reinvent a famous soft drink product with a new slogan of “The best just got better” in 1985. The company felt the heat and learned what it is like to disregard the need for consumers’ opinion when the slogan was met with the disappointment and perception of betrayal.
Marketing research is an essential piece that should be considered not only during the startup phase of your business but also as an ongoing practice. After all, the customers are the most essential component to your business and the information about their perception can be detrimental to your business success.
The goal of marketing research is to provide accurate data, upon which important business decisions are made. However, to use this valuable tool, one must have an understanding of the process as well as its limitations. In order to accurately incorporate your customers’ voice in the decision, it is not only important to conduct the research but also assure that the process for it, from defining the research objective to interpreting the obtained information, is carried out without a flaw.