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Market research is critical to business success. A good business plan analyzes and evaluates customer demographics, purchasing habits, buying cycles, and willingness to adopt new products and services. The process starts with understanding your market--and the opportunities inherent in that market.
And that means you'll need to do a little research. Before you start a business you must be sure there is a viable market for what you plan to offer.
That process requires asking--and more importantly answering--a number of questions. The more thoroughly you answer the following questions, the better you will understand your market.
Start by evaluating the market at a relatively high level, answering some high-level questions about your market and your industry: What is the size of the market?
Is it growing, stable, or in decline? Is the overall industry growing, stable, or in decline? What segment of the market do I plan to target? What demographics and behaviors make up the market I plan to target? Is demand for my specific products and services rising or falling?
Can I differentiate myself from the competition in a way customers will find meaningful?
If so, can I differentiate myself in a cost-effective manner? What do customers expect to pay for my products and services? Are they considered to be a commodity or to be custom and individualized?
Fortunately you've already done some of the legwork. You've already defined and mapped out your products and services. The Market Opportunities section provides a sense-check of that analysis, which is particularly important since choosing the right products and services is such a critical factor in business success.
But your analysis should go farther: Great products are great Ferraris are awesome but you're unlikely to sell many where I live. So let's dig deeper and quantify your market. Your goal is to thoroughly understand the characteristics and purchasing ability of potential customers in your market.
A little Googling can yield a tremendous amount of data. For the market you hope to serve, determine: In general terms, potential customers are the people in the market segment you plan to target. Say you sell jet skis; anyone under the age of 16 and over the age of 60 or so is unlikely to be a customer.
Plus, again in general terms, women make up a relatively small percentage of jet ski purchasers. Determining the total population for the market is not particularly helpful if your product or service does not serve a need for the entire population.
Most products and services do not. In some cases determining the number of total households is important depending on your business.
For example, if you sell heating and air conditioning systems, knowing the number of households is more important than simply knowing the total population in your area.
While people purchase HVAC systems, "households" consume those systems. Spending ability is important. Does your market area have sufficient spending power to purchase enough of your products and services to enable you to make a profit?
Some areas are more affluent than others.
Don't assume every city or locality is the same in terms of spending power. A service that is viable in New York City may not be viable in your town.Market Research & Developing A Marketing Plan “Research is creating new knowledge.”-Neil Armstrong-.
How to Write the Financial Section of a Business Plan: The Purpose of the Financial Section Let's start by explaining what the financial section of a business plan is not. Essential tips and advice on how to write a business plan to grow your business. Furthermore, many startup small business owners fail to understand and take advantage of the importance of the marketing section of the business plan.
In making that statement, I’m hoping to explain to entrepreneurs why the marketing section of most business plans doesn’t actually make sense and how to improve it.
In this edited excerpt, the authors discuss the information you should include in the marketing section of your business plan.
There are seven major components of a business plan, and each one is a complex document.