At the start of a new year, you may be mulling over ideas for New Year’s resolutions in your personal life or for your business. Your company may be caught in a slump, or perhaps you are just looking for new ideas to help your business grow. One resource available is the Iowa Business Concierge
, which provides free market research for Iowa small business owners and entrepreneurs.
One entrepreneur we recently worked with is Jay Olsen, CEO of Emploi.us
based in Des Moines (pictured right). Jay explains his startup as an online networking site for the construction industry providing “mobile apps that will help construction workers communicate more efficiently and effectively on job sites, prospectively saving billions yearly in wasted efforts.” According to Jay a critical step in advancing Emploi.us was being able to complete deep market analysis.
Market analysis is often the key to opening up new opportunities to help a business grow. However, the terms “market research,” “market analysis,” or even, “business intelligence” are oftentimes way too ambiguous. How can market research be applied in real ways to help a small business owner or entrepreneur be successful? For Jay, we used the following tools to help him grow:
A key to expanding any business is putting together a list of prospects. Jay wanted to develop a list of the top general contractors and sub-contractors in the state of Iowa, the Midwest, and the entire United States. Through the use of our business databases, prospect lists can be created by looking at specific industries, such as general contractors in Jay’s case. The prospects may also be filtered by geography and size of company (e.g. number of employees or sales). It is also possible to put together mailing lists of consumers- which can then be similarly filtered by age, gender, income, and personal interest areas.
Nothing like receiving a targeted lead list to set your salesperson on, all for free!
Jay was also interested in knowing the percent of construction workers who own smart phones and the percent that have Facebook accounts. This type of very tailored question is exactly the kind of request that we can help you with via the Business Concierge service. Surprisingly, many great answers can be found by reviewing trade industry articles. For example, EMA contractors did a report on the use of smartphones. In addition, we were able to find a nice report on social media usage (including Facebook specific breakdowns) via the Construction Marketing Association.
We were able to help Jay understand the behavior of his target market, so he could better understand and reach out to them.
Jay also wanted to take a look at the amount of construction work put in place each year within Iowa, the Midwest, and the United States. The number of residential homes and multi-family homes within those regions could also help us understand the overall market potential for Emploi.us. USAspending.gov provided statistics on government spending on construction within Iowa, the Midwest, and the United States. Similarly, Census.gov provided statistics on the number of residential homes constructed in the United States within the past year.
We did the leg work on gathering the statistics on market potential, so Jay could focus on building his business!
It is also helpful to take a look at the industry of your business to examine the current performance and outlook. This type of information can sometimes be found in reports offered by trade associations. In the case of Emploi.us, we took a look at industry reports provided by IBISWorld on residential and commercial construction.
Jay was able to incorporate critical industry information we helped him discover directly into his application for state funding.
Finally, looking at the competition of similar software services and pricing information would prove greatly beneficial to Emploi.us. Jay was given a spreadsheet with contact information for competitors, along with services offered, and pricing data.
Looking at competitors’ services/products and pricing components can help your business discover unfilled niches and pricing guidance. We can conduct this research on your behalf and provide an analysis of our findings- so you can refine and enhance your competitive advantage.
After taking a look at the services provided for Jay, I hope I helped to unveil the mystery of market research. So much information is available right at your fingertips for free – you just need to reach out to me via our Business Concierge service. I hope you decide to take some time at the beginning of this year to do some reflecting (and maybe have us provide a little research too...) to prepare your business for big gains in 2014.
Photo credit: Emploi.us Facebook Page