Even when you have brilliant product and/or service, your startup cannot succeed without effective marketing. And this begins with systematic research and careful planning. It is very dangerous to assume that you already know about your intended market. You need to do market research to make sure you’re on track. Use the market planning process as your opportunity to uncover data and to question your marketing efforts. Your time & efforts will be well spent.
There are two kinds of market research: primary and secondary. Secondary research means using published information such as industry profiles, trade journals, newspapers, magazines, census data, and demographic profiles. This type of information is available in libraries, industry associations, chambers of commerce, from vendors who sell to your industry, and from government agencies. There are more online sources than you could possibly use. Trade associations and trade publications often have excellent industry-specific data.
Primary research means gathering your own data. For example, you could do your own young crowd count at a proposed café, use the yellow pages to identify competitors, and do surveys or focus-group interviews to learn about consumer preferences. Professional market research can be very costly, but there are many books that show small business owners how to do effective research themselves. In your marketing plan, be as specific as possible; give statistics, numbers, and sources. The marketing plan will be the basis, later on, of the all-important sales projection.
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