We put a whole lot of effort into the research we provide our clients, usually even before we sign them up. They have to get an idea of the competition, the market itself and the sheer effort it would take to realistically compete. This can start from the brand new business looking to dip their toe in the water in a new field (in which case, there is a complete scope of understanding they have to undertake – as it’s new to them) and move on to a business with an already reasonably sophisticated concept of what their market is. Usually in the latter case, the research involves showing them their online competition and how this may vary from their existing depth of knowledge of their offline competitors.
This knowledge is still vital though, of course it is. This means we know the angle to pitch to the customers or the Unique Selling Point (USP) which sets them apart from their competitors. The conglomeration of this information leads to a clear path for promotion of the website, you know who you’re competing against online, you know how competitive it is and you know the offers you can make to the end user to facilitate them purchasing from your website as opposed to A.N. Other Ltd.
So I guess the question would be: Is research really worth the effort?
Well from our point of view, we put in a lot even just for the free consultation we offer (if that doesn’t lead to a sale then we’ll have to suck it up and move on), but the research helps us gain a clear project path and means that we deliver our projects, so for us – Yes, it most definitely is worth the effort.
From the clients point of view, if they don’t understand the benefit of knowing as much about their industry as possible then they may find that they’re missing the boat in terms of revenue, customer satisfaction and profitability. If you’re looking for an easy lifestyle business (the purpose of which is to provide you with a lifestyle, not for expansion) then I guess you could rest on your laurels. My argument would be that at any level, be it Sole Trader, SME or PLC, you better get researching about who your customers are, what they want and how to deliver it successfully. As for your competitors – keep an eye on them, look at what they’re doing right, look at what you could be doing better than them… and generally compete with them!