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Market Research


Sorry for the pause. I don't need to tell you that January was a strange and uneven month. It wasn't BAD, just strange. We all seem to have settled down, our heads

slightly cocked, waiting for the equivalent of a "sound" that will tell us the country is on the mend.


The stock market aside (and I mean FAR aside as an indicator), the six big banks unwilling to clear out their mortgage mess and take the book looses (assuming

they can even find the original bogus paperwork that created those loans), and Corporate American sitting on one TRILLION in cash unwilling to spend it (or is that spend it HERE), I am not surprised that a deep sense of insecurity pervades our waking hours.


SO, my friends, have you been thinking about what you can do to make some money? Have you spent any time on that second track?


This time I want to spend some time with you on MARKET RESEARCH . No matter

WHAT you want to do, there is probably some, or a lot of other people doing it too:

Some - if it is a local service, or A LOT if it is a product(s) you are considering for your website. Market research is trench warfare, and if you are NOT willing to do it

then you are not willing to build a successful business. You have NO CHOICE on this one folks, it is DO IT or get out of the way. Even if you are buying a franchise, or have the opportunity to go partners in a business, assuming you have looked at ALL

the financials carefully, WITH YOUR accountant and lawyer, you also need to do the

market research for that product or business, because a good year is no guarantee

that the upcoming year will be good, and a high percentage of that success will depend on local competition.


What is Market Research ? In simple terms, it is what the competition is up to.

What are they selling, how are they pricing it, do they have terms of payment,

what do they charge to ship if shipping is involved, where are they located?

If you are providing a service that is more generalized, rather than unique, then

you had better know exactly HOW MANY people in your town are providing it,

what they are charging for it, and how quickly they can get to it. If you were in

the building trades, but always wanted to be a fine-cabinet maker in your own

workshop at home, then you had better know who ALL the cabinet makers are

in your area. If you want to get an idea of how they charge, e-mail them specs

for a proposed kitchen - number of cabinets, style, materials, finish - and ask for

a BALLPARK bid. Most professional cabinet makers have computer software for this

request, and can punch in your numbers and get a quote quickly. The good ones will do it to you if you start to look successful, so suck it up and play your A game!!


Most people will go to the Yellow Pages to look up service companies, they will go

to the Internet, or to Angie's List or Kudzu (the HGTV spin-off) for referrals. That

is where you start.


Whether you are a dog-walker, cabinet or birdhouse-maker, vintage auto restorer,

or you have just invented the BEST barbecue sauce EVER, you need to know who and what is out there, what they charge for it, etc. Even if you have decided to

become a grower of organic vegetables, organic herbs, local honey, or a maker of door-wreaths, or baby quilts, you NEED to know who else is out there,

and what they are charging.



If you want to become an organic grower then you need to know what the grocery is charging in their "organic section", then plan on trips to the local farmer's markets.

Go to specialty stores that carry your product, and go online to look for organic grower's associations, who will have TONS of information. In other words, don't even THINK ABOUT throwing money at this until you are sure you can see a market for it. Even if you are a good decorator, it doesn't make you an Interior Designer

(that is generally a person who has a degree in the field). Don't fantasize about

a "POTENTIAL" business, DON'T loot your 401K to open a little storefront and hope folks come through the door - they won't. 99% of these stores close after the first

year, when all the "borrowed" money is used up and few customers have shown up.


DON'T get sucked into a series of classes on something like "HOME-STAGING",

only to find that the majority of Real Estate agents don't want to pay you for this service, and neither do the homeowners. You could have used that $250 to pay

the utility bill. Short of the fancy stuff seen on TV - the real world just doesn't

work that way. If you WANT to be a stager, find the posh Real Estate Agency in town, and become an apprentice to their professional stager (who will also have a degree) until you have street creds. You will also be a volunteer, as learning is not

a paid profession.


My POINT here is that you need to do the research. It is also highly possible that you will find other products in your category, but the quality will suck, or the customer service will suck, or the follow-through will suck. It is HIGHLY possible

to build a business in a crowded market with high quality, killer customer service,

and splendiferous follow-through. So don't be daunted by the QUANTITY of the

competition, just make sure you fully understand the QUALITY of the companies offering the products.


As many of you know I sell fatwood. I can promise you I know ALL the prices from the competition, ALL their terms of sale, all their shipping costs, and how long it takes for them to deliver. I know that the all-American Plow & Hearth just sold

to a Chinese company, and I WILL make note of that on my webpage.

I have ordered everyone's products to look at them. I know who has killer

customer service. My product is more expensive than the biggest seller, but

internal culling of our product before we ship gives us higher quality, which

justifies the higher price. Our shipping costs are transparent, and supplied to

the buyer. In other words we don't play games with our customers.


THAT is the result of MARKET RESEARCH . Do it or die slowly, and

DO IT throughout the life of your company. Companies are living

breathing organisms, so feed them good information.


Have you done any market research on YOUR idea or passion yet?

GET STARTED!!!  Time's a wastin'

OH, and be formal.  Write it down, create a spreadsheet,

make lists, create both a competitors list and a

resources list.  Any retailer who already sells your

category is a potential customer.





e-mail me at


I will be adding more material relatively soon.

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