How to Do ALL the Market Research You Will Ever Need … Online

Once, I had to help a computer leasing company figure out what to emphasize in its marketing. Their marketing was targeted at resellers. The goal was to get the resellers to recommend the leasing company as a financing source.

I didn’t know anything about computer resellers, and the only one I knew personally is the one across the street from my office who sold me my system.

I told the client, “I’ll get back to you.” Then, within 48 hours, I reported the results of conversations I had with over two dozen resellers.

Did I conduct a phone survey? Mail a questionnaire? Spend the client’s money on a focus group?

None of the above. I simply went to an online discussion group of computer resellers, and started talking to them about what they look for in a leasing company – and what they thought of my client in particular. (I didn’t mention that I was doing research for a client. I let the people in the group assume I was another reseller. No one asked.)

Thanks to online chat rooms, forums, and discussion groups, you can now gain a quick understanding of the mindset of virtually any market or group of prospects that uses or congregates on the Internet. The two best websites for finding online discussion groups are:

Click on either link and select a group that interests you. If you sell model rocket kits, for instance, click on the Hobbies and Crafts category on Yahoo. You can rapidly and easily find out what rocket hobbyists want, what they like, and what they are willing to pay. And it won’t cost you a dime – just some time spent sitting in front of a PC.

True guerilla marketing!

(Ed. Note: Bob Bly is the editor of ETR’s Direct Marketing University: The Masters Edition, a program to help you start your own successful direct-mail business. Sign up for his e-zine, The Direct Response Letter.)