July 26th, 2016

How to do market research before you launch your start-up

market research

Making sure you lead with your most competitive product

You’ve got an idea, and you think it’s going to go far. Maybe you’ve already put money into developing it. You’re excited, and maybe in your excitement you’ve put the cart before the horse.

Before you launch, here are a few basic market research questions to ask to position yourself strongly within your market.

Have you looked at your competition at all?

We know many people who subscribe to the theory that you should go your own way and not look at your competition at all. The problem is, if you haven’t stopped to see what others are doing, you won’t know if you’re forging your own path or following in someone else’s footsteps.

Plus, it’s dangerous to assume that you magically thought of something entirely new without checking to see if it is actually as novel and innovative as you think. Scoping out your market doesn’t mean imitating what you find: it means knowing where you stand.

Is there something you can learn from what others are doing?

That said, there may be some things you’ll want to imitate. If you’re new to your industry, you may have a learning curve. Your customers may be accustomed to seeing certain terminology. They may assume your product will come with certain standard features. Some differences will help you stand out, but others will confuse and disorient your clients. Make sure you know which is which, and avoid the latter.

What’s your niche?

One thing about marketing a product on the internet: you have an opportunity to reach an extremely specific audience. And the more directly you can speak to that audience—the more you can appeal to their needs and interests—the more loyal they will become to your brand.

Don’t be afraid to get narrow to go big.

Have you tested your market?

You may not need to go super in-depth on this, but you should devote some budget to it. Find a group of your target market, get your product out in front of them, and see what they say. The more you can find, the more data you will have to hone your product.

But beware: the smaller your data sample, the more likely it is to be influenced by outliers. If you don’t have a large pool, treat your feedback with a grain of salt. Try to plumb it for helpful insights that ring true to you rather than treating it as gospel truth.

Have you set a competitive price point?

Have you priced your product higher than your competitors? Is there a good reason?

Maybe you developed a higher-quality product, or you equipped it with more features, or allowed a greater degree of customization than your competitors. In that case, the higher price is justifiable. However, the reason for the difference in price ought to be instantly recognizable to your consumer. If your customers are comparing your product to a competitors and can’t see why yours would cost 3x the price, then they aren’t going to turn to you.

Ideally, if you offer a more expensive product, you want to be able to show your prospective clients that your product is actually a better deal than your competitors, because you’re getting so much more for what you’re paying.

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