Copyright © 2000 by Diana Pemberton-Sikes
What's the fastest, easiest way to make money? By giving people what they want.
So how do find out what they want? Ask them.
Research is an integral part of any business, yet so many people skip this step because they either don't know how to do it, or they simply assume they know what their customers want. Big mistake. Big. Huge.
Make this your mantra: I get what I want by giving people what they want.
Research tells you what they want. By asking questions and watching trends, you learn what people are thinking and doing. And when you know what they're thinking and doing, you know what products to offer and what benefits to emphasize in your marketing.
Here are some good places to start your quest:
1. Ask your customer base. Find out why they bought or subscribed, what they're looking for, and what other products or services they'd like to see you add. Offer an incentive to respond, like a free report, a discount off a future purchase, etc.
2. Visit some discussion groups in your field of interest and look for reoccurring themes or problems. Participate in the discussions. Invite people to complete a survey in exchange for a bonus item, as in step one. Look for relevant groups at www.forumone.com and www.liszt.com.It's fertile ground for start ups.
3. Watch the news headlines. If you don't take a newspaper or have no time for the nightly news, make a note to check out major news websites a few times a week, like CNN (www.cnn.com), the BBC (www.bbc.co.uk), or one of your other favorites from the very comprehensive list on the Drudge Report (www.drudgereport.com). Again, look for reoccurring themes that might benefit you or your company.
4. Subscribe to the Gallup Poll's free "Tuesday Update" newsletter, www.gallup.com. Just cut-to-the-chase facts and figures of what people are thinking and doing.
5. Subscribe to Wordspot's free weekly 200 Keyword Report (www.wordspot.com), which reports the most popular key words typed in to the search engines. "I", "can", "how", "mp3", and "Britany Spears" have been hot for weeks. Can you say teenagers and technophiles?
Once you've gathered your data, USE it to make money. Don't just stick it in a file somewhere and let it gather dust.
Here are some examples of how to turn research into cash, from recent U.S. headlines:
RISING GAS PRICES
A recent Gallup Poll (6/20/00) reported that 36% of Americans say higher gas prices have caused them financial hardship, and 48% report that the higher cost has affected their driving habits or vacation plans.
So who might benefit from this intelligence?
*New Car Dealers - Promote fuel efficient models
*Mechanics - "Have your car serviced regularly for maximum performance"
*Bicycle shop owners - "Why drive when you can pedal?"
*Buses/trains - "Leave the Driving To Us"
*Local Attractions - "You don't have to drive far to have fun"
PEOPLE LIVING LONGER
The 55+ crowd is the largest it's ever been, thanks to diet, exercise, and medical advancements. What's more, this market segment is powerful and will continue to swell as baby boomers age. They're concerned with their health, finances, religion, and family, and they control some BIG bucks -- $1.5 Trillion, according to Jay Conrad Levinson's Guerrilla Marketing.
So, what could you do to win some of this lucrative market share?
*Gear products and services toward aging bodies - large print, easy access, easy open.
*Provide in-depth information about their concerns in the form of articles, information products, and newsletters.
*Offer products and services that appeal to their nostalgia, like memorabilia, genealogy research, or trips to ancestral lands.
HECTIC PACE OF DUAL INCOME HOUSEHOLDS
Time is a precious commodity and the one thing most people claim they don't have enough of. To give them more time with their family and friends:
*Direct them to your website for 24/7 convenience. Make sure your site is clean, loads quickly, is easy to navigate, and easy to order from.
*Add a pick up and/or delivery service to your existing business, if feasible (like dry cleaners, grocers, restaurants, mechanics, etc.). If you already have this service, use this as your USP (unique selling position) and make it part of all your promotions. "Call Barnacle Joe's...we deliver" or "Just give us a call - we'll take care of the rest".
*Start a personal service business - Shopping, concierge, housecleaning, lawn care, moving coordinator, etc. Use a website and/or autoresponder to give all the details.
Turning research into profit is nothing new. After a stint with the Gallup Poll Organization in the 1930s, legendary ad man David Olgivy always started every ad campaign with research.
By studying habits, opinions, and trends, Ogilvy learned what "hot buttons" to push to get people to respond. He then used this intelligence in his ad campaigns, sky rocketing his clients' sales and turning his agency (now Ogilvy and Mather) into a household name. He wrote all about it in his classic text book, Ogilvy on Advertising.
But what if you hate to or have no time to do research? Hire someone like a college student or researcher to do it for you. A hundred bucks invested in a few hours of research could save you thousands in development costs of a product no one wants.
Love to do research? Turn it into a business. Start a research newsletter, service, or a pay-for-access site in your field of interest. Then go after the "hate to/no time to research" crowd.
Research DOES take time, but it's an indispensable tool in every savvy business person's toolkit. Use it regularly to find and fill your customers' needs, and you'll send your sales through the roof!
"Making money is easy. Just find out what people want, and give it to them." Bill Myers, The Direct Mail Boot Camp
Diana Pemberton-Sikes publishes "The Bright Ideas Bulletin." Need some great ideas to start or expand a business? Download "10 Simple Ways To Boost Your Income" today, www.niftybusinessideas.com/10Simple.
Copyright © 2000 by Diana Pemberton-Sikes
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