Small Business Growth Through Market Research

You need to know numbers. Small business owners are often very excited about their product and how they can help the market. But, does the market want or need your product? You need to know the numbers behind that question. Performing market research is a powerful driver for small business growth.

First of all, let me explain what market research is. This is the process of going to your target market and asking questions, interviewing, reading and researching to gain knowledge about what they want and what they are willing to pay for. This data should be in numeric form so that you can more effectively make decisions from it. 

Let me provide a simple scenario that supports the idea of collecting number centric information. Suppose that you are selling a revolutionary product that will change the way that people make french-fries all across the world. Your new french-fry-omatic allows people to specify the size and shape of their fries when they are ordering them. 

If you go into the marketplace and ask if people are interested in this, they might say that, yes, they are excited about this product and you might even find hundreds of potential customers at restaurant trade shows who want to buy these machines right now and put them in their restaurants. You could go to the bank and other business stakeholders and show them all of your survey forms where restaurant owners have shown how excited they were for this idea. 

However, this is not the information that you need. The banker will ask you what the machine costs to produce and how much you plan to sell it for. Suppose that it costs $500 to make and people will only buy it for $300. You will go bankrupt selling a product that everybody is ‘excited’ to buy. In this example the market research performed was inadequate. You never asked what people were willing to pay for this machine. Imagine if your survey forms indicated the restaurant owners would pay $1000 for this machine. The bank would feel very confident in giving you a loan to build your machines. Focus on the information that is most valuable to you and the successful growth of your business.

Conducting well-through-out and effective market research provides you a powerful tool to help you grow your small business. Performing focused market research is a great way to gain more clients, increase sales and grow your small business. 

Local Internet Marketing Tools For Small Businesses With Google

Online advertising can be a very cost-effective form of advertising for small and local businesses if planned out correctly. In this article we will be covering specifically Google and their digital advertising opportunities for small businesses and internet marketing local strategies.

The Google advertising platform consists of

  • The Google Search Network,
  • The Google Display Network,
  • YouTube,
  • Google Places
  • Google Mobile

Where Google fits into the online advertising landscape and internet marketing local strategy

We have never seen a downturn in a digital economy and the economic slowdown or lag in the economy is actually fueling online growth. Consumers are more empowered than ever before having access through a variety of devices and are enabled through the wide penetration of the internet and the tools it brings to research, investigate, share opinions, compare and purchase. The economic downturn is going to increase the importance of digital in our lives because it helps us save money time and travel expenses. Any local business owner should learn how to use the tools and advertising capabilities for local internet marketing with Google.

Google is a top 3 internet property in terms of visit, between the display and search partner Google reaches ninety percent of the internet population making Google’s advertising platform number one in terms of audience reach. With over 2.5 billion page views per day and over 450 unique users per month Google provides a platform to reach any consumer in all industries making it very a very important variable for internet marketing local strategies.

Over the past five years the advertising landscape has changed dramatically with online marketing spend experiencing explosive growth and local internet marketing adding to that growth dramatically. While most other media have maintained relative levels of spend with global online advertising spend growing over all it is important to note that newspaper advertising revenue has been cannibalized by online media budgets, local internet marketing is becoming more and more cost-effective because of these changes.

Why is it that online has become so popular?

There are some key factors to take into consideration when determining what media is used in any marketing campaign. Consider the marketing objective of your campaign; is the campaign goal brand awareness, direct sales and accusation, or developing new markets? Also consider the production costs involved the ability to effectively target and measure audiences and the popularity with consumers. Online advertising has experienced immense growth because it allows advertisers the ability to reach a large number of consumers at home or abroad in an efficient and measurable manner. Given the range of advertising options available by combining search, display and video advertising, supported with sophisticated reporting and tracking tools and large audience reach, online marketing campaigns become a compelling concept for any small and local business developing a smart local internet marketing strategy.

When comparing traditional media advertising use to online advertising it is important to take into consideration the consumer buying cycle. Traditional media such as television, radio, print and outdoor advertising are broadcast and are non interactive media. Their primary purpose is to push a message out to an audience and is best suited to develop brand awareness within an audience, as well as attempting to influence consumers during the consideration phase of a buying cycle. These broadcast media are usually referred to as above the line media. Public relations activity, in store promotions and direct mail are used to engage consumers on a more personal and direct level and can be used in any campaign that wants to encourage product trial and establish or to establish loyalty and repurchase.

The introduction of the online advertising media changed the traditional models by giving small and local businesses the ability to cost effectively target potential customers at any time in the buying cycle depending on how the online campaign us constructed. Google search advertising can be used for brand awareness and has also been proven to be a very effective driver of direct sales and very effective for local internet marketing.

So why does Google play such an important part in the local internet marketing landscape?

To answer that we need to understand how the population consumes media. Google understands from researching user behavior that it acts as a core research point for consumers. So what are the other drivers that affect a user’s path? Once a user clicks on a search result they may move to a publisher or site within the display network to collect information. There is an opportunity here for advertisers that are implementing local internet marketing strategies to reinforce their message to the potential customer by using some pretty cool display features on YouTube, or within the vast display network. As the user gathers information they may come back to Google to gather more information. This process may repeat several times. For local and small businesses that want to implement branding and awareness campaigns, huge opportunities exist during this loop to capture attention and reinforce a message or a brand name with a potential customer who is actively collecting information.

Research has shown that television is the biggest driver of online search, in fact 67 percent of internet users have gone online to search for a product advertised offline, as users are exposed to offline messaging they will use Google to learn more about a product or service they may have encountered through another medium. This is how Google adds value to offline advertising and is such an important part for local internet marketing. Applying consistent integrated cross media campaigns will generate a higher return. The value of search does not just end in online clicks and conversions. Consumers use Google to research their purchase decisions in fact, 89 percent of consumer’s research products online, and 63 percent make their purchase offline. It is important to utilize online advertising with local businesses online conversions are not the end of the cycle in the brand awareness campaign and should be added to any effective local internet marketing strategy.

Better Local Internet Marketing Results With Google Services

One in five searches are related to a location-based service, searching on Google or Google maps will produce a map of a geographic location with specific businesses listed on the map. The business information has been aggregated from multiple sources such as phone book information. When the business takes control of their location and uses it in their local internet marketing campaign they can control the information that is presented. Features that enhance a business listing include allowing restaurants to provide a menu as well as the ability for a business to provide a coupon, and provide driving and walking directions.

Better Local Internet Marketing Results with Mobile Integration

Mobile use is growing at an astonishing rate, for each PC sold worldwide in 2009 3.3 phones were sold into the consumer market. Technology is advancing at a break neck rate in mobile computing, with smart phones, Wi-Fi and 3G coming standard in the mobile phone market. With an increasing population having access to a computer in their pocket many opportunities for location-based marketing campaigns are opening up for local businesses to harness local internet marketing and advertising strategies. According to recent figures at the time of this writing there are over five billion active mobile users worldwide and it is reported that smart phone sales have overtaken sales of the classic mobile models. Location targeting features are very effective for local and small businesses and local internet marketing effectiveness because 1 in 3 mobile search queries have local intent. Users could be looking for a nearby store, restaurant or travel destinations. Mobile applications also show a very high tendency to include local information this shows how tightly local and mobile are tied together. When you as a business owner have an ad in the mobile arena, features like click to call can be extremely effective in generating new customers.

As a local business owner teaming up with Google can be a very cost-effective way of advertising your business and staying in contact with your current customers and essential for any marketing campaign that applies local internet marketing.

Warning: Small Business Owners-Before You Advertise, Read This Simple Checklist

If you’re writing advertisements for your business follow these 23 principles to ensure you get maximum return for your advertising dollar.

These 23 advertising ‘rules’ are based on direct response advertising principles from books like ‘Tested Advertising Methods’ by John Caples and ‘Scientific Advertising’ by Claude Hopkins.

1. Have you clearly researched and defined your ideal target market?

2. Have you written your advertisement directed solely to your ‘ideal target market’?

3. Is the marketing piece being placed/sent/posted where your ideal target market will easily see it?

4. Have you calculated how many sales you need to make to make a profit on this advertisement?

5. Have you considered any other ways that you can reach your target market that may be more cost effective for you?

6. Have you made an offer that’s easy for your reader to understand, and irrisistable for them to refuse?

7. Does your headline ‘sing out’ your ‘ideal target market’ so that they know, that your advertisement is written especially for them?

8. Does your headline ‘grab’ your ideal target market’s attention and excite them?

9. Does your headline offer or describe to your target market a major benefit that’s important to them?

10. Have you written your advertisement so that your headline is approximately 5 sizes larger than the body copy font size?

11. Does the body copy of your advertisement naturally continue on from what the headline suggests/says?

12. Through out the body copy, have you continued on with the benefits suggested in your headline, and described more benefits to your target market of using/owning your product/service?

13. Have you focused your writing on what your product/service will do for your target market, rather than just mentioning how good your business is?

14. Have you used ‘sub-headings’ above some paragraphs to allow ‘skim readers’ to get the main thrust of your advertisement, just by reading the sub-headings?

15. If you have included a picture of a person, is the person (or people) positioned so that their shoulders are facing into the body of the advertisement?

16. Have you included a picture that shows the reader what the benefit(s) of buying and using your product/service will be?

17. Have you taken the ‘buying risk’ away from your ideal target market by letting people know that they are safe to buy from you by either including a guarantee and/or using testimonials?

18. Have you used specifics like 5, 7 and 11 in your copy, rather than using generalizations like large, limited or top quality?

19. Have specifically asked your ideal target market to call, buy, or in some way take action to contact you in a hurry?

20. Have you included your contact details on your advertisement so it’s clear and easy for readers to contact you, or take action effortlessly?

21. Have you communicated with your staff so that they know when, why and how the advertisement is being published?

22. Have you trained your staff so that they know how to handle incoming calls, e-mails and shoppers when they contact/visit your business?

23. Have you communicated with your staff on how they are to record the results of the advertisement so you can track whether it’s profitable or not?

The above 23 points are pretty comprehensive, and will help you make your advertisements comply with sound direct response advertising principles.

By following them, you can ensure you’ll be closer to creating profitable advertisements for your small business growth.