The dark web is an intentionally hidden part of the Internet. It isn’t visible to search engines and users need an anonymizing browser called Tor to access it. While not all of this reportedly 5% section of the Internet is used for illicit purposes, the dark web is known as ‘a hotbed of criminal activity’ and the number of dark web listings that could harm a business is growing.

So, what are the risks to businesses from cybercriminals on the dark web, and what value are these bad actors placing on business customers’ stolen personal data? 

The 2019 installment of the ongoing study by criminology professor Dr Michael McGuire from the University of Surrey, ‘Into the Web of Profit’, shows “dark web listings that could harm an enterprise have gone up by 20% since 2016, and of all listings (excluding those selling drugs), 60% could potentially harm enterprises.” Dr McGuire lists bespoke malware, network access tools as well as phishing kits and tutorials among those threats. 

Into the Web of Profit says cybercrime is now an economy, not a business. McGuire compares the dark web’s “platform criminality” to the “platform capitalism” model where data is the commodity: “Equally, if not more significantly, the cybercrime economy has now become a kind of mirror image of contemporary capitalism – reproducing disruptive business models popularized by the likes of Amazon and Uber. As a kind of ‘monstrous double’ of the legitimate information economy – where data is king – The Web of Profit is not just feeding off the way wealth is generated there, it is reproducing and, in some cases, outperforming it. This is most obviously evident in the platform models of wealth creation it has now adopted.”

McGuire reports that cybercrime generates about $1.5 trillion annually, of which $500 billion is from theft of trade secrets and IP, $160 billion comes from data trading, $1.6 billion is from what’s known as ‘crimeware-as-a-service’, and $1 billion comes from ransomware. 

Deloitte recently described the motivations of cybercriminals: “In most cases, hackers will not use the data themselves but are either engaged by a third party to obtain the data or have the aim to sell the information on the dark web. Buyers from the dark web may use this data for different purposes including financial theft from credit cards, creating fake passports and identities, transferring money between accounts, reselling information at a higher price to the media, or to support other illicit activities. Once the ‘community’ of the dark web acknowledges the achievement of a hacker, the hacker may then request a ransom from the target entity to release the data back to them.” And, unfortunately, most often the attacked business and its customers are unaware the data was stolen until it’s too late to do anything about it.

The COVID-19 pandemic is worsening cybercrime

The COVID-19 pandemic and its push to remote workforces is opening even more opportunities to cybercriminals. According to an exposé by IntSights researchers into the value of data types on the dark web: “As the global shift toward remote work due to COVID-19 continues, IntSights researchers have observed an increase in cybercrime activity in dark web forums. Ransomware gangs are selling encrypted company data, fraudsters are conducting account takeovers (ATOs), hackers are running successful unemployment assistance scams, and credit cards are flying off the shelves of online black markets. Organizations around the world are grappling with the reality that their networks, employees, collaboration tools, and customers are not as secure as they should be, and they are leaking data out through various vulnerabilities.”

Indeed, there has been a 429% increase in the number of corporate credentials—clear text usernames and passwords—exposed on the dark web since March 2020, and a 64% increase in ransomware and phishing attempts in the second quarter of 2020. Banking, education and telehealth are among the hardest hit industries. One source says banking has had a 520% increase in this activity since March 2020, and the education sector, with campuses moving to remote learning during COVID-19, has averaged a total of 384 high severity ATO incidents since March 2020.

The healthcare industry is in the process of rolling out a collective $65 billion in cyber defense systems but hacking attacks and data breaches in this data-rich environment are staggeringly frequent, particularly now. In 2019, a reported 40 million Americans were caught up in a healthcare data breach, and data breaches and ransomware attacks cost the US health sector about $4 billion. Other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Singapore, are experiencing the same issue. Some argue that in this global pandemic, telehealth “security is taking a back seat to usability”. For a quick summary of the highly topical healthcare data risk situation, check out this report.

Businesses are vulnerable from 12 different angles

Dr McGuire calls out the 12 areas where enterprises risk a network breach or data compromise:

  • infection or attacks, including malware, distributed denial of service (DDoS) and botnets
  • access, including remote access Trojans (RATs), keyloggers and exploits
  • espionage, including services, customization and targeting
  • support services such as tutorials
  • credentials
  • phishing
  • refunds
  • customer data
  • operational data
  • financial data
  • intellectual property/trade secrets
  • other emerging threats.

Further, he reports: “We found that 4 in 10 dark net cybercriminals were offering hacking services targeting FTSE 100 or Fortune 500 businesses. This gives a clear indication that the dark net has become extremely tailored to attacking the enterprise, moving to a service-led approach catering to client needs, even offering service plans to outline how they’ll conduct the hack. It’s like they’ve become cybercrime consultants.”

McGuire’ says any of these attacks can devalue the enterprise (e.g. reputational damage), disrupt the enterprise (e.g. malware attacks that affect business operations), and defraud the enterprise (e.g. IP theft or espionage). 

What is personal data worth on the dark web?

The Intsights team found personal data ranges in value on the dark web from $0–$5 to $1000+, and price varies depending on freshness and quality of personal data.

Credit card numbers, SSNs, data of birth records, and social media activity are all in the cheapest category; fake IDs and hacked retailed accounts are among the data in the $5–$20 category; and the highest value data in the $1000+ category includes “domain controllers, exploits, exclusive databases, insider information trading.”

But it’s not the initial sale value of the data on the dark web so much as what cybercriminals do with that data that matters most. Intsights says: “… Consumers might be surprised to learn that an American Social Security Number (SSN) is worth less than $5 to cybercriminals. But hackers can use that SSN for a number of malicious purposes. They can apply for a home or auto loan, open a new credit card, open a bank account, or even gain access to existing personal accounts.”

So what can businesses do?

Solutions to the growing risks of cybercrime will lie in greater investment in cybersecurity systems, and increasingly sophisticated innovations like secure digital identities and decentralized identity management. The goal is to reduce the risk of losing large quantities of valuable data, through either (1) improving defences, or (2) reducing the attack surface. While the first option is becoming an increasingly difficult arms race to win, the second has strong potential to offer longevity, solid return on investment, and efficacy. The strategy is: Don’t build a bigger barricade, become a smaller target.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology in the US makes it plain: “The likelihood of harm caused by a breach involving PII is greatly reduced if an organization minimizes the amount of PII it uses, collects, and stores.” 

Consumers are clearly seeing the value in option 2: If you don’t hold the data, it can’t be breached. Already, more than half of adult Americans are declining to use a product or service based on their perceived risk to their PII. They want to be smaller cybersecurity targets, and they want the businesses they deal with online to do whatever it takes to make them so.

We believe it’s well past time for option 2. Major enterprises and small businesses must recognize that unless they urgently find ways to be smaller cybersecurity targets, the costs could be enormous—to finances, reputation, customer safety, and brand loyalty. By 2021, the global damages bill from cybercrime is predicted to hit USD 6 trillion annually, double the 2015 figure, and cost victims USD 17,700 every minute.

At Anonyome Labs we offer solutions that reduce the attack surface for enterprises and consumers. Our scalable Sudo Platform is the complete privacy toolkit for integrating next generation identity protection and privacy into a brand’s products and services. Sudo Platform and our consumer app MySudo show businesses an easy way to engage, onboard and continually interact with their customers without collecting, managing or risking their PII, and give consumers greater trust in the entire system.   

As Gregory Webb, CEO of Bromium, which sponsors the ongoing ‘Into the Web of Profit’, study says: “We need to make it more difficult for hackers to gather our most precious resource – data. The cybersecurity industry needs to come to terms with the limitations of detect-to-protect security and find better ways to isolate the problem. We need to approach cyber-defenses in a totally different way, by focusing on the most vulnerable – and easiest to attack – vectors in our organizations. The criminals know where we are vulnerable – most often where humans put fingers to keyboards. We know changing human behavior is both challenging and costly. Instead, by focusing on protection, rather than detection, we can disrupt cybercrime in significant ways.”


Published in Deep Web

Market research plays a key role in helping businesses to better understand their customers and marketplace, to help them make more strategic decisions.

This week’s blog explores the topic of market research.

Marketing team discussing a marketing strategy

What is Market Research?

Market research is the organized effort of planning, gathering, recording and analysing information to better understand a target market. This includes factors such as market size, the competition and customer types.

“Information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process. Marketing research specifies the information required to address these issues…” (American Marketing Association, 2004)

Research is a key component to guide businesses with important strategy decisions, such as changing elements of their marketing mix and how this is likely to impact customer behaviours.

The research process first identifies and formulates the problem, then determines the research design such as the research method and collection of data and the final stage is the analysis and providing recommendations based on the research findings.

Why is market research so valuable?

There are many strategic and tactical decisions that businesses make in the process of identifying satisfying customer needs. There are many uncontrollable environmental factors such as economic conditions, politics, and social changes that complicate marketplaces. Analytics can show a business what is happening, but you can only learn so much. Market Research helps a business discover the ‘why’.

Research provides relevant, accurate and up to date information to understand a marketplace at a current point in time. This new knowledge of relevant information informs decision-making by reducing uncertainty. Often bad decisions in business are the result of guessing instead of putting any time and effort into researching what the customer would think or how the market would react.

You will never think on behalf of your customers or experience a product or service in the same way. Testing your assumptions means you will not waste time and money on a bad idea.

Research helps businesses improve decision making to create better products, improve the customer experience and improve their marketing to attract and convert more leads. This leads to three broad goals for market research. First is to better understand the marketplace; second, to better understand your customers; third, to monitor performance.

Gain a better understanding of your market

Without understanding a market, a business is just throwing something out there, hoping it will work. Do not learn from mistakes, look for the opportunities first and then tailor your products to suit.

A market analysis is a powerful tool to study the dynamics of a specific market, whether it is online, or localised. This analysis helps a business understand market trends to discover opportunities and guide strategy. A business needs to identify internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats. This is a SWOT analysis.

Part of understanding a market is knowing what your competition is doing better than you, to improve. A similar analysis a business can use through research is a PESTEL analysis, which investigates Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal factors in a marketplace.

Some of the broad goals business have for market research are:

  • planning and implementing marketing strategies
  • a competitor analysis
  • risk analysis
  • identifying market trends and opportunities
  • learning the potential for a market
  • target market selection and market segmentation
  • product testing and refinement
  • business planning
  • understanding social, technical, and political aspects of a market

Young woman shopping at a hardware store

Getting to know your customers better

Research helps businesses understand their customers wants, needs, desires, beliefs and actions. Only then, a business can recognise whether their offerings meet those needs.

When you understand your customers better, you learn to learn how they think. You learn what they value, how they make a purchase decision, and what they think of your competitors. Once the behaviours and preferences of your target customers are better understood, you can modify your offering and accordingly the marketing to better meet their needs. This is crucial for planning a marketing strategy that aligns with not only who you are, but also what the customer is looking for.

Define your buyer persona

If your business does not already have buyer personas or understand your market segment and target customers well, this is a good place for your research to start.

Buyer Personas are fictional and generalised representations of ideal customers, created by a business to better understand them and therefore more effectively target marketing to communicate with them. Personas include characteristics such as age, gender, family, location, income and challenges.

Your research participants should then match the characteristics of your buyer personas. If you have more than one persona, focus your research on your most important personas and recruit a separate sample group for each.

Sales forecast

Monitoring performance

Market research can also help a business to monitor and evaluate their marketing or product’s performance. Large companies invest millions of dollars into product development, to ensure all that effort is worth it. Provide the right solution for a customer’s problem, at the right price, with the right marketing. There is a lot to get right… or wrong.

Ways you can test consumer opinions of new products or products in development is through focus groups and beta-testing. Companies can also analyse their existing data, such as analytics, to better understand the demand for their current products and services, to then make tweaks and improvements.

Research methods

Marketing research specifies the information required to address these issues, designs the method for collecting information, manages and implements the data collection process, analyses the results, and communicates the findings and their implications.

There are two major types of market research: primary research and secondary research. Primary research is sub-divided into two research methodologies, quantitative and qualitative research; although it can be a combination of the two, called mixed methods.

One general research question guides the research; for example: How should we segment our market for product x. Or, who is the most profitable region for product y. More specific research questions follow to guide the research process and what information to gather.

Primary Research

Primary research is the design, collection and analysis of your personal data through methods such as talking to customers or observing behaviours. Primary research can be exploratory or specific. Exploratory is when research is trying to understand a certain scenario and is better suited to qualitative research such as open-ended questions with a small sample.

Specific research usually follows exploratory research and delves into more specific research queries a company may have. It is more direct towards asking certain customer segment-specific questions.

Two methodologies guide the design of primary research — qualitative and quantitative research techniques.

Qualitative research

Qualitative research aims to explore feelings, behaviours and experiences — things we cannot measure with numbers and statistics. Common qualitative research methods include in-depth interviews, focus groups, and observation. The idea is to gain deeper knowledge about your customers and/or target market, to find out the why behind their decision-making process.

“Qualitative research encompasses a family of approaches, methods and techniques for understanding and thoroughly documenting attitudes a behaviour… Qualitative research seeks the meanings and motivations behind behaviour as well as a thorough account of behavioural facts and implications via a researcher’s encounter will people’s own actions, words and ideas.” (Mariampolski, 2001)

Instead of asking specific questions to get an objective answer, qualitative research does not follow a scripted approach. The researcher is facilitating a conversation rather than trying to lead it. Do not ask yes/any questions, as this style of questioning can bias the outcome, through unintentionally swaying participants’ thoughts.

There should be a general focus for the session, outlining the topics you want to explore, but it should be natural and conversational with open-ended questions. You might include one scripted question such as “take me back to the day when you first decided that you needed to solve this x problem”

From this point, you guide the participants which “can you tell more about that?”, and “how…?”, “who…?”, “where…”, “what…?” Just delve deeper into topics that the participant thinks are important to discuss. Get them to go deeper into their experiences.

Qualitative research goes deeper than quantitative to explore the ‘why’ instead of just the ‘what’. The general demographic information is not as important in qualitative research, as we want to understand the consumption experience itself rather than customer characteristics. Just find out a little bit of background information to give context to the participant, such as their career and family life.

market research team

Quantitative research

Quantitative research aims to describe and explain a situation or problem (attitudes, opinions, behaviours), through generating numerical data or data that can be easily transformed into statistical data. The aim is to be as objective as possible to be able to generalise the results for a larger population.

“Quantitative research… explaining phenomena by collecting numerical data that are analysed using mathematically based methods (in particular statistics).” (Creswell, 1994)

Common methods of quantitative research are customer surveys, polls, questionnaires, and analysing digital analytics or secondary data. With the rise of digital technologies, mobile surveys have become increasingly popular making it far cheaper and easier to compile this kind of research.

Quantitative research typically begins with asking demographic questions to form an accurate picture of who the participants or ‘sample’ for the study are. Demographic questions are those such as gender, age and education. For example, a male under the age of 20 is going to have many differences to a woman over the age of 65. Because quantitative research focuses on numbers and statistics, a larger sample increases the validity of the results whereas qualitative research has a much smaller sample.

A substantial portion of the questions is closed-ended, meaning participants have set responses to choose from that best fit their situation. This makes large datasets fast and easy to analyse, but the data is generalised and cannot delve into the nuances that qualitative research can.

  • Some examples of quantitative survey questions are:
  • Demographic questions: Gender, age, religion, ethnicity, occupation
  • How often do you use the product: Every day, once a week, once a month, very rarely
  • What price do you think is fair for the product: $80, $100, $120, $150

How to find research participants

Once you have decided to conduct market research and choose a suitable method, you need to find participants. Research participants should be a representative sample of your target customers, as well as some of your actual customers. This will help you to understand their characteristics, challenges, and buying habits.

Ideally, your sample will also include people that researched your business but decided not to purchase. If they have chosen a competitor, you want to know why.

Finding customers is the easy part. Anybody who made a recent purchase should be in your CRM. You want to ask recent customers, as their experience will still be fresh in their minds. If you do not have a CRM, ask people when they purchase if they would like to do a brief survey.

CRM will hold information such as an email for potential customers who enquired or evaluated your services but did not make a purchase. You can also find participants through social media or online forums and other communities. Find out where your target audience spends time together. You can even create a Facebook group specifically for the study. Use your network to find participants, but they must be relevant. Stay away from friends and family, but they might know somebody. A post on Facebook and LinkedIn can be fruitful.

It might help to offer an incentive for participants to be involved in the study. You could offer something like a $50 or $100 voucher to spend 30–60 minutes to be a part of a focus group or complete a survey.

Secondary research

Also known as desk research, secondary research is a research method that uses pre-existing data. No fieldwork (e.g. no observations or surveys required), hence the term desk research. This existing data is summarised to strengthen the findings of primary research. If your data matches the findings of previous studies, it is solid evidence.

Secondary research is far quicker to compile and cost-effective than primary research as data collection is not first-hand. The kind of data you can find helps paint the ‘big picture’, such as industry trends or geographic factors.

Common sources of secondary research include:

  • Academic journals, market research, industry reports or trade publications
  • Online sources — websites, databases, publications, government data
  • In-house company data and analytics — e.g. CRM, social media

[Source: This article was published in By Daniel Hopper - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jasper Solander]

The lingering COVID-19 pandemic has driven many businesses to reimagine how both their workforce and consumers will interface in the future. For employees, working from home has presented new challenges and opportunities.

The lingering COVID-19 pandemic has driven many businesses to reimagine how both their workforce and consumers will interface in the future. For employees, working from home has presented new challenges and opportunities. Time previously spent commuting is saved, while communal areas of the home have been re-purposed into makeshift office space, and the daily wardrobe is dictated by scheduled video-conferences. For consumers, the slow migration away from brick and mortar stores has become a sprint, largely mandated by local health orders closing stores. Even stores that remained “open” have implemented online or remote/physically distanced measures to connect with consumers. Buying groceries, clothing, food for delivery, and even dating and other social interactions have moved almost entirely online. As daily “living” moves online individual privacy rights have garnered more attention...


[Source: This article was published in By Bradford Hughes - Uploaded by the Association Member: Robert Hensonw]

Published in Work from Home

(UNDATED) – The Indiana Business Research Center recently released two tools based on new data releases from the U.S. Census Bureau. Available on StatsIndiana, the portal to statistics for Indiana, researchers can visit the City and Town Population Change Dashboard, where they can explore population change throughout the decade based on population estimates released in May.

Population change by year from 2010-19 is available for all place names in Indiana. Discover how a city or town’s population has gone up or down since 2010, which was the date of the last census.

Also new from IBRC and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development is the Workforce Economy Dashboard, available on Hoosiers by the Numbers.

See how Indiana measures up to other states by a number of indicators: unemployment rate, job market, and building permit data. In the details, see how these indicators performed over a 20-year span across the country.

[Source: This article was published in  - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jasper Solander]


Published in Business Research

Research Paper writing is the most time-consuming and intensive paper writing type of all kinds of writing. If you think that who can write my research paper, today we will take a look at the ten basic steps needed to write a Research Paper, and hope to help everyone write.

Research Paper is an article that requires authors to conduct in-depth analysis, discussion and obtain meaningful conclusions on a certain problem or phenomenon. Regardless of the format of the paper, the structure and format of research articles are very strict. And compared with the general essay, the theme and content of Research Paper usually need to be established after the author’s research and analysis, which has higher requirements for originality. Regardless of the major or discipline, the quantity and quality of a scholar’s Research Paper are usually one of the most important indicators reflecting academic and research capabilities.

Research Paper Writing: Identify discussion topics

The first step in research paper writing is to determine the topic of the article discussion. Usually, professors will provide various topics in the guideline. Students can choose from these topics. Some professors also allow students to choose other topics outside the guideline. But the basic requirements for various topics are to have practical significance and research value, and room for in-depth analysis. In the early stage of thesis writing, you can choose multiple topics to scrutinize one by one, and its purpose is to lay a good foundation for the final establishment of research topics. If you don’t know which one is the most appropriate, choose the topic that interests you most and encourages you to study in-depth.

Of course, we also need to pay attention to the deadline and page requirements of the paper to ensure that it can be completed within a certain time.

Research Paper Writing: List various questions about research topics

Research Paper template asks questions this step is very important regardless of whether the research topic has been established or at the stage of topic selection. The so-called scepticism is the beginning of thinking, the end of learning, and the reason why research papers are highly praised by academia is that research papers require authors to have strict logical thinking skills and strong critical thinking. To complete a high-quality research article, it is necessary to repeatedly ask questions about the topics or topics that you choose. At the same time, you can investigate other students, sort out their questions on this topic, arrange various problems from shallow to deep, and dig deeper into more obvious problems. In the end, keep a few questions of research value, combined with research topics, as a sub-argument, in-depth study and discussion in the article.

If the research topic has not been set before, through the analysis of various questions in this step, we should be able to finally establish the research topic at this step.

Research Paper Writing: Extensive collection of research information

When the research topic is clear, the first thing to know is whether this topic currently has two opposing sides. If there is, first of all, we need to collect and organize both information. At the same time, for such topics, even if the research focuses on one aspect, the article needs to present the other aspect in order to pursue a balanced and fair argument.

If the subject has multiple angles, you need to analyze each angle before selecting the cut-in angle. At the same time, no matter whether there are opposites or multiple angles, all kinds of information need to be collected to make a preliminary understanding and research on the subject. Obtain relevant information from newspapers, books, magazines, or discussion articles on the Internet. At the same time, sort out the scholars or experts who have conducted in-depth research on this topic, including their representative views and comments on this topic, combine these speeches and views with their own questions about the research topic, and determine the need for in-depth research Expert works.

At the same time, you can also contact these experts to get first-hand information about their research and opinions. Even for many students, this step may sound difficult, but for a research paper, this information is not only an improvement in grades but also an improvement in academic ability. Not to mention not trying, how can you know that it is impossible?

Research Paper Writing: Expert Interview

For students who want to challenge themselves, as we said before, you can try to talk to experts. Usually, we can conduct interviews with experts by telephone or private visits. If we tried to contact the experts for the first time by phone, then we can very simply introduce ourselves and the reasons for the interview. If the other party does not have time now, you can try to make an appointment with them.

Make sure the interview is concise and relevant, only ask questions related to the research, and take notes at the same time. For those conversations that can be cited in the article, be sure to record them accurately. At the same time, it must be noted that if you need to record the interview, you must first obtain the expert’s consent. And all interviews need to be dated.

Research Paper Writing: Collect Internet Resources

Research Paper Template Web resources are undeniable that the information on the network is very rich and the information is very time-sensitive. But if you decide to quote information on the Internet, you must do three things. The first is to identify the authenticity of the information; second, pay attention to the time when the information is published. If it is pure network information, only the most recently published information is cited. Finally, when quoting, you must pay attention to the citation format of this information and indicate the source of the information.

[Source: This article was published in By Marc Berman - Uploaded by the Association Member: Anthony Frank]

Published in How to

The Internet provides a vast amount of information. If you can quickly and efficiently navigate through that wealth of information, and essentially find a needle in a haystack, you can create a very successful business as an Internet researcher.

Internet researchers can work with individuals or companies to gather, synthesize and present research on a variety of topics. You can work with small businesses to conduct market research to help them launch a new product.

You can gather data for someone in the health industry who is working on having an article published in a medical journal. You can also work with individuals who are researching their family ancestry or trying to locate someone they lost touch with over the years. So you can evaluate what are the pros and cons of internet research in business.

Here are some of the pros and cons of Internet research business that you should explore before taking the plunge.

The Pros of Starting an Internet Research Business

There are many reasons an Internet research business could be a good fit for you. Some of the pros and cons of internet research in business ideas include:

  • If you have a computer and Internet access, you have the equipment necessary to start an Internet research business.
  • There are no time constraints since the Internet is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Your business can be home-based or mobile.
  • You can expand your knowledge as you work.
  • You can target broadly, or specialize in specific research such as market research, genealogy research, statistical research, etc.
  • Your research speed will increase as you become more familiar with online search tools and resources.

The Cons of Starting an Internet Research Business

Like most business ideas, there can become challenges when it comes to starting an Internet research business. Some of the potential challenges include:

  • You may find it difficult to sell your services since it's something almost anyone can do.
  • You have to be able to objectively evaluate information since not all information found on the Internet is accurate.
  • You have to be especially careful to avoid plagiarism and how to cite your sources when gathering information online.
  • You need to understand the different search operators and how to use them to find what you're looking for.
  • You need to know what questions to ask your clients to get a clear understanding of what information they need.

Recommended Resources

These two resources will help you further explore this business idea:
Explore this list of 101 business ideas for even more inspiration. And make sure you also qualify your business idea as part of the planning process before starting your business.

Author:  Alyssa Gregory


Published in Business Research

Internet marketing and advertising is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive, especially for small to mid-level businesses. Veteran SEO expert Tony Rockliff urges business owners to utilize the power of YouTube as a promising alternative to the otherwise slow, painful and expensive build of a Google SEO campaign.

CLEARWATER, Fla.Feb. 24, 2020 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- In 2020, according to the World Advertising and Research Center, spending on internet advertising will reach more than 50% of total global ad spend, an all-time record.(1) "A subset of internet advertising—search engine optimization (SEO) is now the major battleground in marketing today. SEO expert Tony Rockliff, founder and CEO of Tony Rockliff Productions, states as SEO "gets bigger, it gets tougher." For an increasing number of companies, especially SMBs, the smart move is to consider YouTube as an additional SEO powerhouse instead of the conventional reliance on Google. By using YouTube, business owners can combat the stiff competition for consumer attention and variating Google search algorithms.

Text Versus Video Content

According to a research study from Common Sense Media, more than twice as many young people watch videos every day as did four years ago, while the average time spent watching videos—primarily on YouTube—has roughly doubled, to an hour a day.(3) Video's popularity has exploded, while text takes a back seat. It is increasingly obvious in the industry that text-based content is saturated, and that if a company isn't willing to give it at least one year and invest considerable amounts, they shouldn't spend much time on traditional Google based SEO. (2)

The combination of the video-centricity of today's consumers coupled with the increasing expense and difficulty of attracting attention via text-based Google listings, Rockliff suggests, is what identifies YouTube an increasingly robust platform for video-savvy marketers.

How Businesses Can Adapt to YouTube

To capitalize on this opportunity, Rockliff urges marketers to research YouTube to qualify exactly what video content is needed, and which of this content will get the most responses from its viewers, or potential clients. He organizes the four major stages of YouTube optimization:

  • 1. Find out what is being searched for on YouTube in your area or niche that you can compete for.
  • 2. Create video content that answers what is being searched for, and also provides what YouTube is searching for, i.e. views per video, average time spent watching, engagement per video, and number of subscribers gained per video.
  • 3. Publish your videos properly and in an optimized manner.
  • 4. Promote your videos according to how and when YouTube wants to see them promoted.

Rockliff has been in search engine optimization since 1998 and online marketing since 1995. His online community membership site has grown to 1.3 million members and was receiving 1.5 billion hits per year before he sold it in 2002. Over the years, Rockliff has seen profound changes in both opportunity and approach of YouTube as a marketing strategy, and right now, YouTube represents a great prospect to get noticed and build a brand loyal following. This is especially useful for organizations that do not have an extensive marketing budget. "The key is to understand what you're selling and optimize all four major stages," Rockliff states.

Tony Rockliff will be speaking at the Podfest 2020 Multimedia Expo, March 6th-8th, at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida. For more information, please see

About Tony Rockliff Productions:

Tony Rockliff Productions was founded in 1995 by digital pioneer and trailblazer, Tony Rockliff. His video marketing company is based out of Clearwater, Florida, and brings over fifty years of audio/video marketing experience to the business. Remaining to be a top disruptor of the video marketing and media industry throughout his career, his world-renowned success is a product of his passion for storytelling through the art of video. Tony Rockliff Productions specializes in video and audio creation, producing music and videos, YouTube optimization, and building out-of-the-ordinary websites. Currently, Tony Rockliff Productions focuses on organic YouTube video marketing, a profitable niche of the industry that is host to 1.9 billion logged-in users per month. You can visit him here

  • 1. Handley, Lucy, "Global ad spend has slowed but 2020 looks set to be a bumper year," CNBC, October 24, 2019,
  • 2. Patel, Neil, "Everything I Taught You About SEO Was Wrong,"
  • 3. Siegel, Rachel, "Tweens, teens, and screens: The average time kids spend watching online videos has doubled in 4 years," Washington Post, October 29, 2019,

[Source: This article was published in - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jasper Solander]

Published in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in By Ron Lieback - Uploaded by the Association Member: Deborah Tannen]

The power of blogging is endless.

This sentiment is especially true for SMBs, which typically don’t have the financial backing of major businesses that can provide an endless flow of appealing video or podcast content.

A company blog has one overall goal that results in increased revenue: to create energy around what I call “TAR” – a concept that I blogged about before, TAR standing for Trust, Authority and Reputation.

Once these three elements are established, the blogging effort’s ROI over time will far outweigh that of any paid marketing campaign.

Unfortunately, companies and digital marketing agencies fail to experience the true power of blogging.

Either they are non-believers who don’t understand that a blog is the ultimate builder of TAR, or they do believe but constantly struggle with finding the perfect writer.

Companies can source a blog writer in three ways: a digital marketing agency, a freelancer, or in-house.

The typical digital marketing agency has a few in-house writers who may have to blog about various unrelated subjects. The outcome is never optimal here.

Think about creating content for a finance client one moment, followed by a pet supply company the next, then an aftermarket auto accessories business. This will soon cause burnout unless the writers are magically proficient and passionate about all of those subjects.

17 Non Negotiable Skills for Blog Writers in Any Business

When seeking a freelancer or in-house writer, the search is much easier; you search through numerous websites or place a hiring ad. But this situation also arrives with some issues.

Reputable freelancers and a dedicated in-house blogger can become pricey, And, unlike in most agency situations, the blogger may not have an SEO expert to enhance his or her work.

How about editors? Most freelancers don’t have editors.

These issues have helped develop my agency’s business model, which relies on freelance bloggers of various passions. I basically find and match writers to clients.

The client receives triple the value because they not only get a writer skilled in their industry/niche but also get all the SEO enhancements and a unique seven-layer editing process.

Whether you run an agency that offers blogs or a company searching for a freelancer or in-house blogger, the following 17 non-negotiable skills are crucial for acquiring and retaining quality talent, and increasing company revenue through one of the strongest forms of content marketing.

1. Passion & Proficiency

When blog writers have a passion for the subject and are both proficient in the craft of writing and the subject itself, the quality of work increases dramatically. This provides a stress-free environment for both the writer and the business.

Those that are passionate about a subject are typically more knowledgable, which keeps the material factual and trustworthy. And you can tell a passionate writer from a fake within a few sentences.

Sure, some of the best writers can be experts on subjects with zero passion for them, but the quality will never match that of one who has both proficiency and passion for the subject.

When my agency searches for new writers to cover a subject, this is the first criteria.

Don’t get me wrong-a few of what I call “factotum” writers exist that can just do it all because they have such a passion for writing they’re willing to spend extra time learning about the subject and eventually become super passionate about it.

But these writers are tough to find – and if you do find them, hold onto them.

Leadership mentor Michael Hyatt’s supports this concept in his latest book, “Free to Focus”. Hyatt says that for true success in life and careers, one must find their true north on the “Freedom Compass” – a productivity tool he has created that helps evaluate tasks, activities, and opportunities.

The true north of this compass is called “The Desire Zone.” This is where passion and proficiency intersect, and people can make their most significant contributions to “business, family, community…and maybe the world.”

The same goes for a blogger with passion and proficiency for both the subject and writing.

Expert Tip

When hiring an agency that will offer blogging, or a freelance/in-house blogger, ask some simple questions first.

If you’re using an agency, ask for details about their writers.

  • Are they in-house?
  • What industries do they blog about now?
  • What do they know about my industry?
  • And are they passionate about it?
  • What work can I see that they previously completed?

If you’re hiring a freelance or in-house blogger, simply seek writers that are interested in your industry. Then ask questions like above.

If reputability is a factor within the industry, simply use Google News with the author’s name in quotations.

For example, I’m a 10-year veteran of the motorcycle industry and have written thousands of blogs. A quick Google News search of “Ron Lieback” and you’ll find over 4,200 blogs – most from the motorcycle industry.

2. Meets Deadlines

A blog’s success thrives on frequent and consistent delivery, which means the writers must meet deadlines. This is where smart leadership takes over.

Don’t iron fist and demand deadlines; rather, influence the blog writers by making them know they are part of the success story.

When revenue increases and a client can directly attribute it to blogging, that writer should feel a sense of pride. Sometimes they don’t, and you must reinforce that.

Expert Tip

Always bump up the deadline for writers by a few days. For some, I go as far as a week in advance. Things happen in life, whether the writer gets sick or something else.

Make sure you have a buffer zone for them and you. This saved me a few times; during one situation a writer became extremely sick. I was able to redelegate the work to another writer and continue fulfilling the client’s content calendar.

3. Timely Communication

Besides meeting deadlines, writers must also have timely communication.

By timely I don’t mean immediately, but at least within 24 hours for emails and three hours for calls/texts.

When the blog-creation process is proactive, there’s no need for reactive actions, including immediate answering of an email.

I’m a firm believer and practitioner of only answering emails three times a day. To remain in à la Cal Newport “Deep Focus” mode, I also keep all notifications off when working, and keep calls silenced.

Expert Tip

Explain the importance of timely communication up front with your bloggers, along with the criteria of when to expect a response.

Explain how this timeliness will create less stress, which equates to happiness in both work and personal situations.

Timely Communication

4. Clean Spelling & Grammar

There’s a huge difference between “colon” and “cologne.” You want to smell like the latter, for sure.

Always spellcheck everything, and make sure someone else edits besides the blogger.

The best writers in the world are created by the best editors. Mistakes will always occur – the goal is to correct them before anyone sees them.

This also goes for proper grammar. I’m not only talking about punctuation and proper use of adjectives, but also the use of words.

For example, further and farther are commonly misused. The first one is used for time references, and the second is used for distance.

Another is fewer and less; always use fewer to describe plural words and less to describe singular words: That used Ducati has fewer miles, but less beauty.

Expert Tip

Send your bloggers two essential texts on grammar – the iconic “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White, and also “The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need”, by Susan Thurman.

Also, have them use the free version of Grammarly.

5. Organization Is Vital

The days of the unorganized writer have passed – at least when delivering value to a client through consistent and frequent blogging.

All modern writers should educate themselves in the art of self-organization, whether that means blocking certain hours every day for blog work or writing down the weekly assignments across a whiteboard.

Whatever works – just as long as an organized system is present.

You want to know have trust in your bloggers, and not have to worry about them slacking here or there or forgetting an assignment. It’s also the leader’s job, whether the manager of an agency or company, to explain the importance of organization.

Expert Tip

Have bloggers handwrite their week’s tasks in a daily planner. Provide one if they don’t have one.

I’m not about to explain the psychology behind it, but physically writing stuff down helps me organize better than any digital planner. Writers will likely appreciate the handwriting anyway.

6. Understands the Audience

For writers to blog effectively, they must understand the target audience.

You’ll explain things much differently to an audience nearing retirement versus a teenager. Again, agency/company leaders will need to provide this education to the blogger.

This is where marketing materials need to be shared, and CEOs need to engage with the blogger or agency. Also, sometimes there are various target audiences due to where a prospect is within the sales funnel (more in point 16 below), so it’s a leader’s duty to explain this.

Expert Tip

Bloggers should be in constant conversation with the sales team, which is typically closest to the client and understands the client’s needs and questions.

This will help the blogger expand on topics and provide more value to readers.

7. Consistent with the Delivery of Voice & Style

Once bloggers understand the target audience, they must either continue or develop the company’s voice and style. All blogs should have a consistent voice.

Don’t be funny one day, satirical the next, and serious a week later. Keep consistency at the forefront.

Always create content in the same style, whether we’re talking about style guides or the way you create your content.

I like short, choppy sentences, and short paragraphs. I think it’s easier on the eyes and allows readers to digest quickly.

Others like longer sentences and chunky paragraphs.

Whatever you choose, stick with it.

In regards to style, some like Associated Press (AP), and others like the American Psychology Association (APA). Again, whatever you choose, stick with it.

Expert Tip

Most copy on the web is written in AP styling, which is what newspapers and most magazines use. Send your blogger the latest AP Stylebook PDF or, better yet, the book version so they can always refer to it.

Another great reference book that covers AP and other styles like APA is “The best punctuation book, period.” by June Casagrande.

These two books should always be at arm’s length.

8. Open to Edits

This is vital, especially when working with a new client or business.

In the beginning, the blogger needs to fully focus on learning everything about that business, from the style/tone to the target audience.

In an agency situation, it’s a leader’s duty to explain this process to the client. I ask my blogging clients to be ruthless during the first few blog edits – not only for factual information but voice and style.

Be wary; the point of contact in the business might want to write for himself or herself instead of the company’s target audience. This is something that also should be discussed before any writing is completed.

Expert Tip

At a minimum, have two extra sets of eyes on the blogs after they are written.

Even those with zero editing skills can pick up a missed fact or spelling error.

The more the better; I demand three separate sets of eyes at my agency after a writer hands in a blog, and we still sometimes find mistakes.

Open to Edits

9. Creates 110% Original Content

Yeah – 110 percent. In theory, anything over 100 percent is impossible, but using 110 stresses that blog writers should strive for complete originality.

I’ve read numerous articles on the same subject, and sometimes they sound so similar it’s as if they all just had different titles. This happens all the time in the digital marketing world, and more so in the world of powersports/motorsports journalism.

This is the quantity over quality factor, and some writers are just trying to pump out endless blogs in hopes of making a positive impact on search engines. But one original article that pukes originality will overcome 10 worthless ones.

Expert Tip

When you first hire a blogger, do yourself a favor and copy/paste the first few paragraphs into Google. I only found a writer to be plagiarizing once, but I would have likely lost a client due to it.

Make sure you explain there is no mercy for plagiarism. I only do this for the first or second blogs – after that I know I can trust writers because I only work with those that share my values for honesty and trust.

Plagiarism – even the most minimal version of it – will immediately sever (not severe!) the relationship.

10. Content Lacks Fluff

This is blogging – not the sometimes cheesy copywriting found within product or category copy.

Remember, all blog efforts should support the overall mission of TAR: Trust, Authority and Respect.

Kill the fluff and sales-forward copy. This is blogging that’s built to establish TAR.

Expert Tip

Bloggers should never overuse adjectives or adverbs. Most are useless, though some may be a major help.

Have your bloggers read Hemmingway – the master of simplicity.

11. Understands SEO Basics

The more SEO a blogger knows the better. But again, as point #1 states, it’s better to have passion for the subject and proficiency for writing over SEO.

They should understand – and learn, if need be – keyword research and the use of related keywords.

Also, bloggers should understand the importance of header tags, and how to effectively write titles and meta descriptions (character count, keywords, etc.).

Expert Tip

Some of the best bloggers around know squat about SEO.

That’s why I’ve created a system in my agency that provides writers with “SEO Content Guidelines” for each blog. It includes things such as:

  • The optimized title.
  • Related keywords.
  • Recommended word count.
  • The top URLs ranking for the topic we’re after.

I tell bloggers not to mimic the competition, but rather understand what the competition is doing, and do it better. These are best created by an SEO with some creative writing skills.

Always ask the writer if they can create a better headline – and maybe ask for two so you can A/B test it.

12. Knows & Strengthens Company USPs Through Blogging

One of my agency’s unique selling positions (USP) is that it’s an SEO-driven content marketing agency with a focus on written content that helps a business refine and strengthen its USPs.

So when my writers create blogs for my agency’s website, this USP is reinforced. The same goes for my client’s content.

Every blogger should know the company’s or their client’s USPs, and strengthen them through blogging.

Again, this is on the leadership team to make sure the blogger knows just what makes the business or agency’s client stand apart from the rest, and this is why USPs are so vital for success.

Expert Tip

Companies typical transform over time, which either pulls them away from a former USP or develop new ones.

To truly gain an edge with blogging, revisit older blogs and either refresh them with the newer USPs, or rewrite/delete them if they exploit an older USP.

Knows Strengthens Company USPs Through Blogging

13. Competitive Landscape Knowledge

Bloggers should have a deep knowledge of the business’s competitive landscape. This will further educate them, and allow them to witness and, better yet, predict future trends.

But take warning – nothing should be replicated unless you’re in the breaking news industry where stories will naturally repeat.

Expert Tip

Have your blogger follow a news blog within the vertical he or she is writing about, and follow the top ranking blogs.

The easiest way is to simply google “(industry term) news”. A good example is “SEO news,” which brings up quite a reputable publication for SEO.

14. Willing to Promote & Share Personally

If writers are dedicated to their work, they will have no issues sharing the blogs they have created across their personal social media platforms. This also goes for the blogs without their bylines – most businesses blog under the company name.

Everyone knows the power of social and sharing, and having bloggers pitch in will help the blog’s mission with establishing the company’s TAR.

It also shows that the blogger values the business he or she is writing for – and that helps strengthen the relationship between blogger and company, or blogger and agency and company.

Be warned, though; some clients respectfully sign non-disclosures. If an NDA is present, sharing simply can’t happen.

Expert Tip

If you have multiple bloggers, provide incentives to those who get the most shares over a period of time.

An example will be a $50 gift card to the blogger who gets the most shares over a quarter or so.

15. Bring Possible Solutions with Problems

This point was created for the leadership team.

Writers may have an issue with a blog’s direction, or with the criticism that some businesses have with voice or style. Don’t let them just whine about these types of issues.

If a problem exists, make sure the bloggers know that a possible solution must arrive with complaints. This will make the future workflow smoother, and less stressful.

And both of those concepts equate to higher quality writing, and, ultimately, retention of blogging services.

Expert Tip

Have bloggers “sleep on” a problem before presenting it. As humans, we get caught in the moment and let our emotions guide the conversation.

Usually, after some time, the problem is much smaller than first assumed and dissolves itself. This is especially true for writers; I know from experience.

Two decades ago my emotions would always get the best of me over criticism on a piece of writing. Now, after getting away from the situation and letting my mind subconsciously do some thinking, most criticism is warranted.

16. Understands the Basic Sales Process

This is crucial – the more blog writers know about sales, the more intimate they can get with the businesses’ audience.

Talking with the sales team will help with this information. Bloggers should also know the sales process, including the sales funnel.

Knowledge of the sales funnel will add more granular details about the target audience, allowing the blogger to further expand on the content and make that business a more authoritative voice in its industry.

Expert Tip

At my agency, I think in terms of where prospects are at within the sales funnel in regards to the content I produce. Most blog campaigns fall into the following model:

  • 50% written for newbies: they don’t know much about your business or industry but are learning.
  • 25% for intermediate: they are educated, but need that extra bit of incentive to become a client.
  • 25% for experts: they are extremely knowledgeable about your industry/business, and are just looking for the right partner that will help scale their business. These blogs also speak to the existing clients through use in newsletters; this shows your clients that your business thrives to stay current and remain authoritative in the vertical.

I can use a quick example from my agency’s blog:

  • 50% of the blogs are for those just learning about content creation and SEO.
  • 25% are for those who understand content creation and SEO but are searching for reputable help.
  • 25% for the experts, who are typically CMOs or SEO managers that are looking for immediate partners.

This is based on the current sales model, but that model is fluid and can change within weeks.

Understands the Basic Sales Process

17. Constant Flow of Education

I can never stress enough about the constant need for ongoing education within anything, from career development to personal happiness.

This is especially true for writers, who can quickly become stagnant if always writing about the same things. The more a writer reads, the better a writer will become. There’s no debating this.

Expert Tip

Send every blogger two essential texts on writing: “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser, and “Writing Tools” by Roy Peter Clark. And have them allocate at least a half-hour every day to read the latest blogs that discuss SEO writing.

Concluding Thoughts

The point of a blog is to establish a company’s TAR – Trust, Authority and Respect. But you just can’t hire any blogger or an agency; you must find one that aligns with your business’s core values and will provide the highest ROI possible.

Through two decades of writing professionally, and owning an agency that makes roughly 80% of its revenue from blogging, the skills above are an absolute must.

Remember, though, that everyone can acquire and build upon their skill levels. Once you have a blogger that excels in all 17 above, that’s when you can get them on autopilot and use more of your time to do what you do best.

Published in Business Research

[This article is originally published in written by Brandon Stapper - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Dorothy Allen]

In 2018, a one-size-fits-all approach to lead generation simply doesn't work anymore. Appealing to different market segments to generate leads requires an intimate knowledge of the different lead generation tools at your disposal. And knowing these individual tools isn't enough -- you must also create the perfect blend of lead generation tools to reach all corners of your prospective markets.

As a printing company, we market to a wide variety of clientele. From corporate businesses that need new signage and displays for promotions, to individual clients who need invitations and decor for celebratory events, we've had to learn how to market effectively to them all. Along the way, I realized that the engaging subject line sales email that worked for a company in the trade show circuit won't work for a bride looking to print her suite of wedding stationery. This doesn't mean I've had to choose one or the other, but instead I have had to make a plan to reach both efficiently and effectively.

If you would like to do the same in your small business and create the ideal mix of lead generation tools to work for your markets, here are some of the tried-and-tested tips that worked for me.

First off, what is lead generation?

Lead generation can best be boiled down to how you create and capture interest in your product. This broad definition encompasses a ton of different methodologies, from in person to digital. Most importantly, lead generation evolves with the times. As new technologies surface or the latest social media craze begins, lead generation aims shifts to meet each market segment where they're at.

The biggest trend to date is the desire for an organic lead generation. Cold calling is out and often viewed as an antiquated, interruptive and tiresome practice. Instead, customers prefer a soft sell, in which they organically stumble across your product or service and make the decision to buy.

Find your mix with these three questions.

The answer to how to create your lead generation mix can be answered in three simple questions and validated by on-the-ground research. Before blindly investing in marketing campaigns over multiple platforms, ask yourself:

  •  Where does a member of my target market spend most of their time?
  •  Why would a member of my target market need my product or service?
  •  What is the member of my target market's buying preference?

These three questions will help you suss out the best ways to position your product or service. Pay attention to the last question -- buying preference is a big one. If you're marketing to a younger generation, chances are you'll want to have a clean, uncluttered site with a quick checkout option -- and I mean quick. Filling in a bunch of questions and being taken through a cyclone of pages may convince your younger buyer to leave your product in their cart.

Allocate your funds accordingly.

After some thought, you probably have a pretty good idea of your ideal customer and where they buy most of their products (and why). Depending on the size of each ideal customer base -- like our company, you may have many -- allocate your marketing funds accordingly. If you primarily do business-to-business (B2B) sales, then email lead generation software and state-of-the-art trade show displays may receive the majority of your marketing support. If you're searching for a younger, hipper demographic, you may disproportionately put funds toward influencer campaigns, social media, and web design.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

If you're unsure exactly what tools are at your disposal, do some research by talking to and observing your target market. Here are some rules of thumb to consider in triangulating the perfect approach for an organic lead generation.

  • Content marketing: Writing helpful how-to articles establishes you as a thought leader that people feel encouraged to buy from. Guest posts on other sites are also a great way to gain visibility with new audiences and encourage organic lead generation. Depending on your industry, this approach is a great way to attract the eyes of young professionals looking for career advice.
  • Social media: If your product or service can be marketed visually, Instagram and Snapchat are great platforms to get the attention of younger millennials. Facebook marketing is a strength when appealing to middle-aged consumers. Keep in mind that mindless scrolling on Instagram and Facebook occurs during downtime, and Facebook is the main culprit behind browser tabs when professionals are killing time at work.
  • Trade show and professional networking: Consider joining your town or city's Chamber of Commerce or CVB. You'll rub elbows with decision makers who know other decision makers, and establishing yourself as a leader in your community or industry can easily create organic leads. Trade shows are also a good opportunity for B2B networking and lead generation.

There are too many other examples to count, but if you spend time putting yourself in the shoes of your target market and searching out the points where they would stumble across your product or service during the day, you can't go wrong. Crafting the perfect mix of lead generation techniques is a challenge, but a fun one -- especially when it pays off!

Published in How to

Source: This article was Published - Contributed by Member: Robert Hensonw

The advancement of technology has given us so many ways of finding out what we need to do to sustain businesses of different kinds.

Regardless of the differences that are unique to each business, one thing remains important – knowing what your customer base wants, and then work on fulfilling their needs in order to survive the competition.

With the era of monopolies now gone, it makes it very essential to on market research. That is why the major companies in the world employ the services of marketing teams and spend millions of dollars annually in recruiting research firms. Here are some reasons why you need to spend that money on research.

To have a better idea of what you are going to do

This may sound generic as ever, but the thing is – it shows you the importance of conducting research in the first place. The worst mistake you can make as an entrepreneur is shooting in the dark – you simply waste your time and resources without anything to show for it. You may make mistakes along the way even if you have sufficient information, but it is better to be prepared.

Whatever decision you make for the business, it is important to do your homework. From sourcing for suppliers, getting potential clients, and even developing the range of your products and services. It can also help in clearing up any queries that you have while still providing you with sufficient first-hand strategy that helps in progressing the business, also known as SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats).

It helps you to stay focused

Let us be honest here – marketing research and marketing, in general, is not an easy venture to get into, especially with all the multitasking that happens today. Even as a business owner, you might find yourself trying to focus on multiple projects, playing various roles within your organization, while still running the business and trying to help it succeed.

However, when you have done sufficient market research, it should inform you of what your consumers want. This helps you make a list of priorities you need to accomplish, which in turn helps you in managing your time as effectively as possible. It also gives you a guide on both the long and short term strategies you need to put in place, which helps you feel more organized, less frazzled and overwhelmed in the long-term.

Gives you better insight on your customers

Regardless of whether your business has been in the game for a long time or is starting out, target customers should always be a priority, as they are either potential or loyal customers. Good market research strategies will clear doubts you may have on the identification of these customers, including their gender, ages, locations, and so on.

The more analysis you do on their spending habits and products they frequently purchase, for instance, the better you can understand what makes them tick. This allows you to focus on manufacturing certain products or giving certain services in order to retain them as loyal customers.

Helps in understanding customer behavior

Aside from getting to know potentially loyal customers, you can use market research to find out some requirements of the customers. The improvement of technology has given us some useful advanced software tools such as Google Analytics, which assist you to understand the behavioral patterns of your customers. Oncetheir spending behavior is understood, you can then refine and customize various products for them.

These software tools can use the data in two forms. One is tracking the spending habits of the customer when they are online, which is a real-time analysis (it particularly works if you have an online shop), and the other is to check their past spending behavior to see if there are any patterns involved.

Helps in analyzing competitors

If you have ever read the book ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu, it states that for you defeat your enemy in battle, it is important to know yourself and know them, and they will never defeat you. This statement is true; not just in war, but also in other aspects of life – especially when it comes to running a business.

Monopolies do not exist anymore in this day and age, so every business has fierce competition all around it. This should motivate you to do adequate research on the market as well as your competitors, and you may learn some strategies from them that can either push you ahead or reduce the growth of your competitors.

Even more important, it will help you to keep your growth consistent through the improvement of your services and products.

Gives you adequate information for selling and forecasting activities

The most important focus of sales forecasts is helping a business keep adequate inventory, an action which regulates the balance of demand and supply. The only way to find this out is through doing research. After doing a sales forecast you can then begin to plan for alternative goods you can sell, or find new methods of selling the goods. In addition, you may have consumer bases in other countries; market research allows you to find them and tailor make strategies for those areas.

Reduces losses and risk on a significant level

The best approach to use would be a contingency approach. At the back of your mind, you remember that the business may not do well due to factors that may be beyond your control, or others may be mistakes you will learn along the way.

Market research proves to be effective at reducing risks that you incur or the losses your business may suffer, as long as it has concrete findings to back it. It helps in avoiding mistakes such as poor pricing methods and poor marketing so that your business has a fighting chance of thriving.

Final thoughts

Making your business succeed in the face of increasing competition is not an easy thing, and that is why market research exists – to enable you to find weaknesses you should improve on. With these tips, investing in proper research is justified, and it will give your company great benefits.

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