Understanding Your Market…

Understanding your market is a major key thing you need to do in business, be it services, products or what have you that you’re offering from your business… Without doing this, you can not only waste valuable time and money, but feel your doing something wrong, even though you may have a great product or service… Here are a couple examples I had in learning this the hard way…

When I was in college, I loved my time off going hunting and fishing. I was also going to college for illustration at Syracuse University, and was good with portraits in pen and ink and watercolor. One of my professor’s, Murray Tinkelman said something about “Creating your own Niche Market”. He did baseball card illustrations and turned them into limited edition prints… I did do one of Ken Griffey Jr., with his manager saying he would be wiling to sign them since I was using the money for college and an indipendent credit. I lacked the knowledge of Copyright use and was told I needed to pay MLB a $10,000 deposit to print out 1000 of them and sell as a project to cover cost of art school… Couldn’t invest that much for such a short run, so continued looking for “My Niche” art work…

One Christmas, I did an illustration of my Great Uncle with some trout he had caught, in a Field & Stream watercolor style. He loved it, and then it accrued to me, this could be my niche… So, through word of mouth, I started doing these, doing often 25-50 of them a year. I even did one for a county Legislator and the 8-point buck he had gotten, and hung in his office till he retired- he still values it to this day… SO I thought I had a really good product, with a couple years of word of mouth advertising in the Syracuse area to support my idea…

When I moved back to my hometown with no stoplight in a small county with lots of woods and streams for hunting and fishing, I figured I would be set, lots of hunters and fishermen in the area, and called my product “The Sportsmen’s Portrait”… I advertised in the local county Penny Saver for two seasons- Ended up with only one order…The local sportsmen’s market would rather get their trophy/s stuffed and hung on their wall, then pay the same amount for a piece of artwork from a photo… I lacked truly “Knowing my Market”…

So Lesson: Research your possible Market!!! Find out what they truly need, want, and how much they would be willing to pay for it… You can’t sell a New BMW to people who are only interested in rusty VW Bugs or used cars…

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Are local businesses in Tompkins County really using Social Networking effectively?

I’ve been spending the last couple of months looking into my local market for web site design, in the Ithaca & Tompkins County, New York area… Looking for businesses that could use an update to their web site, add a mobile website to it and which ones are using Social Networking as an addition to their advertising…

I am just amazed at the number of businesses in the Ithaca area that aren’t using Social Networking to their advantage or effectively for their advertising and marketing plan… Some have FaceBook profiles but no link to them from their main website; some have set up “User Profiles”, instead of “Group Profiles”, thus preventing people from finding them in a group search… And most don’t even have a mobile site in their website, many have only a basic web 1.0 website… Close to half the population is using Mobile devices for social networking, such as FaceBook or Twitter…

Tompkins County New York Population stats:
* Resident Population: Tompkins County; 96,169
* City of Ithaca: 29,541
* Student Population: Cornell University; 18,428
* Student Population: Ithaca College; 5,630
* Student Population: Tompkins Cortland Community College: 3,000.

So the population of students in the Ithaca area including TC3 is about 27,000. Making the total of population of Tompkins County during the school year about 123,000. The student population accounts for close to ¼ of the population of the area…

In a city with so many students, over 30,000, most of which are using social networking and mobile devices, and a county of 96,000, that means close to 1 in 4 are students, and I would estimate close to half the population is using cell phones, mobile devices and smart phones for social networking… Many don’t watch local TV, and reading the news is becoming a past thing, as in the local café’s you will notice many are reading them online or via their cell phones…

So how are local businesses really advertising now? Are they really getting a bang for their advertising buck? Could your business use YouTube video’s linked to your site of video’s of “how to use” your product or service? Could your clients be interested in daily or weekly updates of your services, prices or specials? Would your clients feel more inclined to shop with you, if they feel you’re a friend and give suggestions or notify them more often?

I know I read news online, I might read a local weekly or daily newspaper while sipping a coffee at a café, if I don’t have my PowerBook with me… More often if I get a local weekly or daily newspaper, I get mostly to start my woodstove fires and to house-train my puppies with…

With what iPhones and SmartPhones can do, I am thinking that soon only major professional people will be using their Desktop computers for the majority of their work, and the average user will be only using their smartphone or iPhone for the basics- contacts, photos, movies, basic internet, music and use Web 2.0 or Social media for a lot of basics… In a recent market use article I read, they estimate the world Mobile internet users at close to 1.5 billion, and to grow to close to 3 billion in the next three years…

If you are a business owner, you have to really ask yourself, “Am I advertising to my current clients and possible future clients as effectively as possible?”

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