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Five Minute Internet Market Research

By James D. Brausch
Posted Thursday, September 23, 2004

My Internet market research methodology takes about five minutes. Here's the step-by-step plan:

1. Boil your idea down to a single word.

Everyone hates this, but it gets pretty easy after awhile. With very few exceptions, any product/service can be boiled down to a single word. I know it'll be too broad for what you actually want to sell, but humor me for a minute and do it. Can you only get down to two words? I'll betcha one of those words is an adjective and the other a noun. Just drop the adjective. The noun is your single word for this exercise. If you already have a successful site, boil it down to a single word too. It'll be useful for comparison later in this process. That might have used up your first minute. Let's get to the next step.

2. Assign a number reflecting the demand for your word.

The goal of this five-minute exercise to come up with a number that expresses the supply/demand characteristics of the general market you are considering. This first number is going to express the amount of "demand" there is for the idea expressed by the word you picked. How do we assign this number? What if we can find out how many times a keyword has been searched on a major search engine in the prior month? Well; of course we can do just that. There are several PPC search engines that have keyword suggestion tools. These tools tell you how many times a particular word has been searched in the prior month. Pick your favorite PPC search engine and go enter the above word into the keyword suggestion tool. Write down the number of searches for your word. Do the same for the word you came up with to describe your successful site. We'll call this the "demand" number. Only three minutes to go... better hurry to the next step.

3. Assign a number reflecting the supply/profitability of your word.

In step #2, we might have picked "joke" (the fifth most popular keyword search on the Internet at times). Most of us know that people searching for jokes aren't really interested in buying anything. We need another number to express the supply/profitability of keywords. Let's use our favorite PPC engine for this step too. Go back to the main page of your favorite PPC search engine and do a search for your word. Most PPC search engines show the "bid" for each site next to each paid listing. Scroll down to about #10 or so and write that number down. That's going to be your supply/profitability number. At least 10 of your competitors think this word is worth more than that amount. If there is no #10 bid, I move right on. I try not to pay much attention to the bids above the #10 bid, because every market deserves to have 5-10 fools who are wasting their money because they see 5-10 other fools doing the same thing. Enough said. Oops, we only have two minutes left...

4. Multiply the number from step 2 with the number from step 3.

No; this isn't a trick IRS form. By multiplying those two numbers together, you have come up with a new number that is completely meaningless all by itself, but it somehow encompasses all the important marketing information for your word. It has the supply, demand and profitability indexes all rolled together in one number. Be sure to do this for the word you came up with for your successful site too. Did that take a full minute? Don't worry... I won't tell.

5. Compare the meaningless numbers and find meaning.

The numbers you came up with have no meaning by themselves, but you can use them to compare with other meaningless numbers derived in the same way. Now you can tell if "widgets" or "waggets" is a better market to tackle. Let's say your successful site makes $100 profit every day. Let's say it's magic number is 50. Let's say you just evaluated a word that has a magic number of 100. In general, you can expect that if you put the same kinds of marketing efforts and time into promoting the new site as you did the old site... that you may be making $200 profit every day after a similar amount of time.

The number does a lot more that it may appear to do on the surface. You will find that it predicts the ease you can find free content for your site, engage in link exchanges, find topical ezines and discussion lists, etc... All while balancing that with the ability to find profitable affiliate relationships, sell advertising, find complementary products, etc. Have a little faith and give it a shot. After a couple of sites, you'll be a believer once you start seeing things fall into place just about where the magic number predicted.

We actually use this technique every single day to provide quotes for targeted traffic. We also use this technique to decide where to put our efforts with legacy sites. It's a very loose estimate, but for five minutes of your time, we believe it is an excellent exercise to get a loose estimate of the value of the market you are considering.

About the Author
The author, James D. Brausch, is the Vice President of Marketing for Target Blaster, Inc., an Internet Marketing firm specializing in targeted traffic. (


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