Understanding your customers' needs is fundamental to developing a good product.
It is very simple, if you understand your customers' problems and then solve those problems with your product, people will give you money for this solution.
The more widespread and urgent a problem is, the more money you can make from that market if you can solve your customers problems.
So if you're building a business, you want to be working in markets where there are lots of people with urgent problems that are desperately seeking a solution.
If you're teaching skills online via a membership website, then the markets listed below work particularly well.
Proven markets for building a successful membership site:
- Fitness and health
- Beauty and Anti-aging
- Dieting and nutrition
- Weight loss
- Body building
- Housing/Real estate
- Stocks and shares
- Personal finance
- Business opportunities
- Marketing/Make Money Online
- Self development
- Software as a service
I'll repeat the point again as it is important: the more widespread and urgent a problem is, the more money you can make from that market if you can solve your customers' problems.
Contrast this to something like the market of learning how to do knitting, whilst there is still money to be made in this market, the problems people have here are not urgent or widespread enough to make a lot of money (although money can still be made in this area).
If the market you're looking to develop your membership website for is not included in the list above, then it's going to be harder (but not impossible) for you to make money within that industry.
Doing Your Online Market Research
Once you have chosen a broad market, you then need to do some online market research so you can identify a particular section of the market that you want to target. For example, let's take say you were working in the weight loss industry. Focusing on just creating a weight loss membership site is too broad of a market to target, there will be too much competition and it will be hard for you to stand out.
Instead, it would be better to target a smaller section of that market and directly appeal to those people within that section of the market. Some examples would be: weight loss for mums that have just given birth and want to get back into shape, weight loss for diabetics, weight loss for vegans/vegetarians etc.
Below are some 4 tools for doing online market research. They'll help you to identify gaps in the market that might work for your business:
1. Market Trend Analysis
Head on over to Google Trends.
Type in the broad keyword of one of markets you're interested in entering in. Study this graph and try different keywords to see if the graph is going up or down over time.
Repeat this but with the term for "weight loss" (see above), you'll notice a 2 things:
- The number of people searching for weight loss is stable or going slightly upwards over the years.
- The weight loss market is seasonal, notice how there is a peak every January as this is when everyone makes their new year's resolutions and signs up for the gym.
Now let's look at the term "ketogenic diet" and then afterwards "south beach diet". Notice how the south beach diet was popular in the past but the fad for this diet is now over. However, if you look at the market for the "ketogenic diet" you'll see that it's still growing (as of the time of this writing).
The key thing to take away from this is that you want to enter into markets that are either stable or currently going upwards.
2. Keyword Research and Analysis
- This next form of online market research requires you to sign up for Google Adwords which will enable you to use their keyword tool which can be found here.
- Once you've signed up and logged in, enter the keyword term e.g. "ketogenic diet" and see what keyword results show up.
- Repeat this step but using your own keyword ideas.
- This data now gives you a good idea of what particular keywords people are searching and the volumes for those keywords.
- Have a search around using this tool as it will help you identify which problems and questions people are searching for within your market and use it to generate ideas.
- You can download the results into a spreadsheet by clicking on the download button at the top.
- Go through that list and use it to identify any keywords that are relevant.
3. Competitor Research
Competition is a good thing, don't be afraid of it. It simply means that people in your market are making money. Your competition can also give you ideas for when you make your own product. I want you to do online market research in the following locations and identify your top 3 competitors on each platform:
(e.g. On each of these platforms search for the keyword "ketogenic" or "ketogenic diet")
For each competitor, make a quick note of:
- What looks good and what's not so good about their product/site.
- Notice how the competitors are positioning themselves in the market (e.g. are they selling a product "that saves you time", or maybe its position is that "it's organic and 100% natural".
- Look at what types of keywords they are using.
- What style and colors are they using.
If you want even further demographic details then select one of your top competitors and put their website address into one of the following sites:
4. Customer Surveys
This step is for people that may already have a website with visitors or a mailing list. It is also one of the best forms of online market research you can do.
If you're creating a survey, it doesn't need to be complex. The easier and shorter your survey is, the more responses you will get. You could set up a simple survey only asking your customer "What is the most important question you want answered?" or "What is your number one problem you want solved?". You can then collect all of these answers and place them into groups depending upon their response. These responses can then be used to guide the creation of your product/membership site.
If you have an existing mailing list then you can send them an email to visit a survey page that you have set up. I recommend using the SurveyMonkey surveying software for creating an online survey page.
Alternatively, call up you customers and actually talk to them about what their existing problems are and how you can solve them.
Take Action Now
- When teaching a skill online/setting up a membership website, you'll make more money if you enter into a proven market. Check your business is in one of these proven markets.
- Once you've decided upon your market, conduct market trend analysis using the Google Trends tool.
- Do your keyword research and analysis using the AdWords keyword tool so you know what people in your market are searching for.
- Research your competition by finding the top 3 competitors across various platforms.
- If you have an existing customer list, then do some customer surveys.
Once you've completed your market research, you'll be ready for the next article where you'll discover the importance of web positioning when building a membership site.