the Internet for Market Research
The Internet has become
a wonderful tool for learning more about your customers, your competition
and what is happening in your marketplace. With more and more companies
using the Internet as a primary communication channel, you have an almost
unlimited amount of access to information that once was difficult to obtain.
The keys are to find the right sources, identify what information is important
and then assimilate what it means.
A "cold call" can become a "warm call" if you know
what your customer's interests. Visiting a customer website can offer
insights into their products, marketing programs and growth strategies.
Be sure to take advantage of site maps to make sure you learn everything
that is on the site. You may even be able to use information on the site
to identify key decision makers.
Few things can make selling more effective than knowing your competition.
Spend some time on the websites of your primary competitors. Looking at
their product information can help you identify the product's benefits
so you can address or refute them when presenting your products. A competitor's
site may also have information on their main customers that could become
your best prospects.
Almost every trade association uses their website to provide tools, information
and support to their members. If you belong to a trade association, be
sure to visit their site often to learn what is going on in your market.
Often there are special research publications available that can thought
provoking and insightful.
You can also visit
the websites of the trade associations to which your customers may belong.
Just like visiting a customer's website, you can stay abreast of what
your customers are doing.
More and more organizations are using emailed newsletters to stay in touch
with various groups. As you visit websites of customers, competitors and
trade associations, stay alert for ways to get on their mailing lists.
Usually it is easy to subscribe to electronic newsletters and what you
may learn may be critical for your marketing efforts. The anonymity of
an electronic newsletter subscription also provides some benefits.