How to Market Your Small Business

Conducting Market Research and Analysis

The key to successful marketing is identifying what business you are in and what motivates customers to buy. The most successful business is one that has carved out a “market niche” or unique benefit for its customers. People buy results, not products. Therefore, good marketing is determining what customers need and want, then fulfilling that need better than your competitor.

The first step toward developing a marketing plan is collecting and analyzing relevant data. market research defines the nees for the product, aids in predicting market share, identifies competition, provides direction for efficient use of advertising and promotional dollars, identifies problems and opportunites, and establishes benchmarks by which to measure progress and success.

Basic research need not be expensive. Examples of primary (non-published) sources include personal and focus group interviews, mailed questionnaires, telephone surveys, license plate studies, traffic counts, and sales analysis reports. Examples of secondary (published) research sources include rating services, advertising media, census information, local government sales tax data, chamber of commerce information, department store sales data, registrations for contests and drawings, and computerized demographic services. Assistance is available from business support organizations and economic development organizations including the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development (MDECD) and the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), as well as from universities and community colleges, libraries, city halls, and county courthouses. Professional market research firms perform specific surveys for a fee. A “Selected Bibliography for Marketing Research” is included in this publication.

Economic Trend Analysis

Economic trend analysis requires data on employment levels, inflation, mortgage rates, and area bankruptcies. Free sources of this information include libraries, banks, educational institutions, investment houses, government agencies, newspapers, business publications, and trade associations. Compare and contrast several sources before drawing conclusions or implications.

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