Once you've learned all you can about your customers and your prospects, what's the next area worth researching? A smart place to focus is your own industry. Research that industry--how did the world function before Google?--and get a feel for what the winners are doing, the latest trends, and for signs of any competitors you might have.
Look at Industry Winners
One of the secrets to market domination is knocking yourself off. NOT cloning yourself, but creating a new unique selling proposition in the same market.
That's why Toyota created Lexus. It's why McDonalds started Chipotle. It's not just big companies either; it's just as true with "little" guys on the internet. In some of the most competitive markets imaginable, you see 11 real ads on the first page, and most people don't know that two parent companies might be responsible for five or six of them.
Hey, if you've successfully gained a foothold in one market--and you understand that market deeply--and want to grow your business why go to the trouble of learning a brand-new niche? Do something in the one you're already in. Create a new offer that's so appealing, it takes its place along with the other top dogs: New product, new website, new Google account.
Don't ever forget that on the any search term there's a whole spectrum of tastes and desires that the keyword represents. One website and one ad can only cater to a handful of them. There are still others you're not serving. But you can.
Do Field Research
As lush and fascinating as the internet may be for research, we can't help but point you in the direction of trade shows where you'll not only get a state-of-the-moment feel for your industry but you'll also get a lot of inside information not yet published online. The networking at these shows may be more valuable than anything on the trade show floor.
The product or service you offer also merits abundant research time. The better you know your offering, the better equipped you'll be to talk about it, understand it, market it. Eventually, you'll be called upon to prepare a benefits list, that actual in-writing list of the benefits people gain by buying from you. We urge you to put a lot of effort and creativity into this list because it's what you'll be communicating to your prospects and customers. They'll then make their decision to purchase (or not to purchase) based upon the benefits you do (or don't) convey.
Understand Your Competition
Your next point of research will be your competition, which you'll already know pretty well because of your forays into studying your industry and your product. Learn what they say and where they say it. Maintain vigil here because they'll tip their hand frequently by how they adjust their message and their media. You don't want to copy them but you do want to be aware of what they're up to. You can be sure that they're checking up on you. You might even buy the product of the leader in your industry. Get to see firsthand its sales presentation, display, packaging, follow-up, and product itself. Learning from leaders is a guerrilla strength.
Explore Media Opportunities
Don't fail to research life outside your own industry. Get to know the media, online and offline available to you. Get to know the internet on an intimate basis within your industry. Start-up guerrillas engage in a monthly half hour surf of the internet to catch the best that's online--in and out of their industry. The research you put in looking for media opportunities for your company will pay off every time.
Study the Latest Technology
That research should include researching the latest technology that might empower your business. The move in entrepreneurship is toward automation. Happily, automation is not expensive. Your company can give off the vibes of a huge, lavishly funded corporation with a constantly busy staff, when the truth is it's just little old you pushing the right button on your automated customer profitability center. Technology can help you in the areas of marketing, production, finances, distribution, and a whole lot more. Skip it if you don't need it, but don't miss it if it can contribute to your profitability. It probably can. More people earn money while they sleep than ever before.
Because this is for beginning a guerrilla marketing program, we didn't explore a totally different kind of research, one that we applaud and respect. But assuming you aren't yet a wealthy and thriving company, we nudge you in the direction of free research, which has been outlined above. Later, when you've taken this advice and are a wealthy and thriving company, look into paid research, which takes over the entire research function, from asking the right questions to analyzing the answers. The right question can be the making of a company.
Jay Conrad Levinson is the father of the bestselling Guerrilla Marketing series, and authors 55 other business books. His books have sold more than 14 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 39 languages. He is the chairman of Guerrilla Marketing International.
Jeannie Levinson is the president of Guerrilla Marketing International and co-founder of the Guerrilla Marketing Association. With decades of sales and marketing experience, she is a sought-after consultant, workshop leader and radio guest. For more information, visit gmarketing.com.
The late Jay Conrad Levinson is the Father of Guerrilla Marketing. His books have sold more than 21 million copies worldwide, appear in 62 languages, and have become the most powerful brand in the history of marketing. He was the chairman of Guerrilla Marketing International. Learn more at gmarketing.com.