An essential part of starting up successfully is the ability to conduct exhaustive market research. This information gives you a thumbprint of whom and where your customers are, what their needs are, and how they are likely to make their purchases.
Once up and running extra research will enable you to identify fresh opportunities, delete ineffective campaigns and move with the times e.g. RSS feeds, Podcasts etc.
Too many small businesses fail to see the importance of this type of research. At first it is time consuming, and perhaps a little tricky if you have no experience in the area, but it is essential and your business will thrive as a result. Pinpoint one area for starter until you get in the swing of things. A lot of what you do every day is valuable research for a target market, it's just a matter of seeing it that way and jotting down observations.
Gathering as much information as possible about current and prospective buyers of your product or service is essential to your business. Competitor information can give you a window into buyer habits and how to cater to those.
With research you may spot a niche yet to be filled in the area. Filling that niche is a wonderful base to build. It's a good start to look at such things as demographics (age, ethnicity, personal characteristics); occupation; Geographic's (where they live); and psychographics (what they like and don't like).
Specialised reports can cost a lot of money. But they aren't the only option available, the internet has plenty of resources for searching customer and competitor information, such as: