It all starts with good research. Whether you’re deciding to launch a new startup idea or mulling over international business expansion, you need to test the waters first. Without proper research, the only thing you have is an assumption. And you don’t want to leave your startup up to chance, do you?
So, how do you conduct proper market research? At Base Miami, we do our own by analyzing what’s happening in our target market, and we do the same for our clients. Staying up-to-date with the current marketing trends will always give you the freshest news and the power to know whether you’re on the right track or you need to pivot.
But what else is there? So much more. Knowing what’s happening in your niche is not enough for market research. You need to get out there and network, too. And you also need to use the power of online tools.
If you want to know how to combine all this into an in-depth market research formula for your startup, keep reading!
Know Your Business
You would not believe how many startup owners think they know their target audience, only to find out that they were dead wrong. We see it constantly happen, which is why we always start our Market Fit programs with a Lean Canvas exercise.
The Lean Canvas Model is Ash Maurya’s adaptation to the original Business Model Canvas, first introduced by Alex Osterwalder. According to him, it’s “a one-page business planning tool that gets read.”
Doing this exercise is great to shed some light on some tricky areas that you may overlook, like your value proposition and why your client should choose you instead of a competitor.
Know Your Market
If you do the Lean Canvas exercise, you should be able to have a fair grasp of who your customers and market share are. If you’re still unclear on that, go back to the exercise and have a closer look at it again. You must know who you’re speaking and selling to.
There are two ways to define your customer profile, and ideally, you should have both mapped out. One is with an ICP exercise (Ideal Customer Profile) and the other is a Buyer Persona exercise.
What’s The Difference Between Buyer Personas and ICPs?
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your target customers. Buyer personas are built out of demographic data, pain points, goals, and real market research about your customers. Depending on your organization, you should have between 2 and 5 buyer persona profiles.
An ICP is a description of a fictional account that gets significant value from your product or service and provides considerable value to your company in return.
The difference between the two is that ICPs are more sales-oriented, and having it defined will help your sales team determine which leads are worth pursuing. Buyer Personas, on the other hand, are built to understand how to communicate with your customers.
Is There an Actual Need for Your Product/Service?
Necessity is the mother of invention. This applies to every new business, whether it’s product or service-based. Great ideas can quickly go down the drain if they’re not supported by an actual - tested - market need for them. So, is there a genuine need for yours?
Conducting a marketing audit is perfect to define this, as it will help you navigate the 5 Ps of marketing efficiently (People, Place, Position, Promotion, and Price).
If you realize it was all a pipe dream at the end of your marketing audit, it was still worth doing it. You’ll be discarding a tempting idea that was meant to fail, saving you time and money in the process. So, be glad! On the other hand, you will have gathered enough evidence that your product/service has a competitive edge to position it smoothly in the market.
Who Are Your Competitors?
It is imperative that startup owners have a clear understanding of who their competitors are. A fair dose of competition is always healthy, but if you’re going up against behemoths, you might wanna abort the mission or change to something more doable.
At Base Miami, we look at competitors from three different angles: market overlap, thought-leadership, and validation (we call this process sanity checks).
In order to establish market overlap and positioning, we use the petal diagram tool, which you can find online for free. Like our fellow, Becky Bausman, Senior Vice President of Communication Strategy at Duarte, Inc says “The diagram places your unique company or product in a center circle, and then surrounds it with petals, each one containing competitors in a distinct category adjacent to the company. It forces the person using it to look at the problem of competitive differentiation from each of several distinct perspectives.”.
Once you have identified your top 3 to 5 competitors, what you want to do is look at how they’re positioning themselves in the market. Here’s where we look at their SEO and content marketing. Are they thought-leaders? What are they talking about? Are they ranking on SERPs? For this analysis, you can use online tools like Moz, Screaming Frog, SemRush, and Buzzsumo.
Lastly, the sanity checks. This step is vital because it allows you to validate all your data. We recommend getting at least ten sanity checks with industry experts.
Market Research Results
With all the information you gathered, you will be able to read into what you need to do to position yourself in the market and overthrow your competitors. Keep in mind that consumers’ needs and market trends change. So, stay on top of the news. Keep yourself updated, and never stop networking. This is what will constantly validate your business model
If you need help to conduct your US entry market research, we can help you! Contact us and we will give you a free assessment of your business. LET'S CHAT!