Free market research a welcome help for small businesses
By Leanne Hoagland-Smith February 27, 2012 8:40AM
Leanne Hoagland-Smith. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 27, 2012 8:40AM
The Internet has given rise to a plethora of free market research that is truly a boon to small business owners. Up to several years ago, to understand market trends and where to invest those critical business resources almost demanded the hiring of outside marketing firms to internal consultants. Now, these cash strapped small business owners to crazy busy sales professionals can reap valid free market research through subscriptions to any number of RSS feeds.
One of my favorite free market research resources is “The Research Brief” from Media Post. Each day I receive specific business research on many subjects most of which are marketing related.
For example, I recently learned that email newsletters convert best to increase sales for business to business (B2B) while sales letters emails work best for business to consumer (B2C) or business to retail (B2R). My own experience told me this to be the case, but having an outside independent study verifying what my gut told me was a good thing.
Additional highlights from this report on email newsletters revealed:
• 25 percent open rate
• 11 percent click through rate
This additional information allowed me to determine if my open rates and click through rates for my monthly email newsletter were above, at or below average. With this knowledge, I had the opportunity to make any course corrections to my integrated education based marketing plan.
According to this study, time continues to be primary challenge email marketers must overcome specific to social media. There is less time to attract attention because the target market’s attention (think prospects) is now being directed to social media.
Since marketing is about attracting attention as evidenced by the open rates and building a relationship as demonstrated through the click through rates, more and more people are redirecting their available free time toward social media. Standing out in the crowd, being the Red Jacket is becoming more and more difficult as demonstrated through the result of actual new sales leads secured.
During a meeting at the South Shore Business Networking Group, one of the members, Rick Gosser, owner of Gosser Corporate Sales, brought a 15 inch stack of papers on free marketing research, guides and related information he had downloaded during the last six months. By scheduling the time to read this information from sites such as Hub Spot or Make Use Of, he is creating a competitive advantage. Most of this information is timely and Gosser can quickly make those necessary revisions to his marketing action plan without having to speak to a third party marketing firm.
Using Google Alerts is another way to locate solid free market research. Enter into Google, specific key words and then receive a daily update of articles on the web specific to those key words. Subscribing to alerts from Smart Brief also provides not only free market research, but notifies you of market trends that you may not know.
The number one challenge facing any small business owner to C suite executives to crazy busy sales professionals is effective marketing as evidenced by the number, the time to acquire and the cost of those sales leads. Unless your potential customers or clients know about you, you will remain pocket poor despite how great your solutions (products and services) are. If you think you do not have time to understand marketing, then probably one of your competitors is probably taking advantage of that belief and is making the time.
Effective marketing is not selling; is not showing up and throwing up; is not pumping the hand of a potential customer and dumping what you do onto him or her. To increase sales begins with a solid integrated education based marketing plan supported by a slow and steady wins the race attitude.
Staying abreast of what is happening where you conduct business through market research is critical from the demographics on Facebook users to awareness of the impact of technology on marketing. As noted before in this column, mobile marketing is no longer a trend, but is here to stay and is growing more every day. By having access to free market research will afford you the opportunity to stay ahead of the flow and to achieve your goal to increase sales.
P.S. Shout Out: Three Dog Net in Hobart and Golden Technologies in Valparaiso provide computer services.
Research Brief – http://www.mediapost.com
South Shore Business Networking – http://www.southshorebusinessnetworking.com
Hubspot – http://www.hubspot.com
Make Use Of – http://www.makeuseof.com