One of the most exciting things about being an entrepreneur is the speed at which decisions are made. This desire to make things happen, to be nimble and quick, is essential to success in the world of e-commerce and in fast-growing markets like Asia.
- Search specific topics on LinkedIn Groups and Events and follow Twitter and Facebook conversations to stay on top of what people care enough to talk about. This might seem obvious, but it provides insight into the emotional makeup of your target audiences, which will help you to talk to them more effectively. Look for overused turns of phrase and words and then avoid them to create a brand name and supporting messages that will still be fresh and memorable years down the line. Similarly, by researching what has been done already, you can avoid being the last to the party and focus on finding ways to put a new spin on the latest trends, or even promote a completely new concept.
- Several market research mechanisms are available to help online vendors gain visibility and effectively promote and sell their products on eBay. Start with a quick and free snapshot from eBay Pulse, which shows the 10 most popular searches and largest stores on the site and in specific categories. For more complex reports about the products getting the most buzz, consider investing between $10 and $30 per month in services from HammerTap, SaleHoo, Terapeak, or Vendio. These resources provide insights into the best time and price at which to start an auction, along with tools to select attention-getting images, to generate new keywords and more.
- Use LinkedIn Answers and Discussions to solicit advice from competitors, who are often very happy to share their experiences. Consider how they explain what sets them apart to get clues about what your true differentiators are.
- Use online surveys to get a reaction to mockups of products, logo designs, company names, and taglines. SurveyMonkey has proven to be a versatile and reliable way of engaging various audiences for my clients–from budding golfers aged 12 to 17 to C-level executives–and you can do a lot for free with their basic service. Check out the “plans and pricing” section of the SurveyMonkey website to see whether a one-time or ongoing monthly subscription is a better option for your specific needs.
Remember that the primary reason for light market research like this is to overcome blind spots that prevent you from seeing and expressing your company’s real value proposition. Pinpoint brand attributes that align with your long-term business strategy and that will remain relevant even as consumer tastes and the competitive landscape change. This will give your brand staying power–and it will free you up to speedily get on with the business of realizing your vision.