John Norton

John has worked successfully across continents, countries, cultures, for large companies, public sector and as an Entrepreneur. His experience and knowledge provide valuable insights.

Before you fire the first bullet ...

In the last blog'magic bullet' that people are looking for in business was mentioned, so it came to mind how people shoot off before they've actually done one very important thing.

Every business has a desire to understand their market and the competitive landscape they operate in and when starting a business for the first time it is vitally important to get it right at the outset as getting it wrong could doom you to failure or unnecessary losses.

What am I talking about?  It's that age old matter of customer research.  How to assess the market place, understand where your customers are and how to engage them.

Here are my Key Research actions to assist you...


There was a time when a standard approach to research involved, report research, desk top research, focus groups, surveys and trawling through long list of cold and warm leads, plus historical data and extracting the information you need.
Today, much has changed!  Surveys are still relevant, as are control groups however large volumes of potential customer data are now available online and much more available to everyone.  No longer do you need to know exactly what you are looking for, a Google search will in many instances lead you directly to the data.  Social media tools have also become a valuable resource, they currently provide both accurate and detailed analysis of large and varying groups of potential users of your products or services and... running small targeted campaigns and monitoring and measuring them online, provide the most up to date and accurate data there is to assess your market and understand the dynamics of potential sectors and potential customers.


As the behaviour of customers differs significantly based on whether they interact online or off line ... there is a requirement to look to research affecting both areas separately and then compare and analyse your results jointly, to understand the differences and any similarities in terms of product choice, buying frequency, behaviours, pricing issues and customer relationship building and engagement.  This will lead you to identifying strategies that are appropriate for both platforms.


Being clear about the market you are in and the product or service you provide is critical to your success.  To this end, it is not sufficient to just know who your competitors are, the number of competitors that exist and their pricing strategy, it is also necessary to map the sector landscape you operate in, to include...products / services available both locally, nationally and globally, pricing, size and financial strength of your competitors.  If your product is totally new then of course its worth understanding how you can future proof it to fend off competition later.  Other areas critical to your success include: time to market, logistics, culturisation, timing, start up costs related to producing any product and service and the profitability of your product short, medium and long term bearing in mind the potential competition at the time.


Market entry is the ability to introduce a new product into the market place and in order to introduce a new product you need to understand if there is a demand for the product. Sounds pretty obvious, yet all too freqently the business has spoken to their best mates and upon this information decided to get started.  Research whether your product/service is a fashion product (something with a limited lifespan i.e. fashionable), a commodity, a new innovation, a copy of something else, an exciting new product that is entirely unique ... all these elements require serious thought and require you to map how your potential customers will see the product, hear about it, experience it, touch it, see it online, in a video, on TV or in a newspaper advertisement. The ability today, due to fragmented customer attention, is to provide an effective multi channel approach, however this depends entirely on budgets, viability and your available resources.


Ultimately if you have a product/service you need data to support your case to launch it, especially if you are seeking investment.  This means, testing it in as many different customer channels as possible to see where the greatest take up will be and if the take up is sustainable long term. Often this can be judged at an early stage, however sometimes it cannot as products need time to filter into markets, so give your product the best possible start by having as much supporting data as possible to demonstrate viability. This way you stand a greater chance of success.


  • Reports and papers
  • Specialist blogs and commentaries
  • Social Media trends and insights
  • Potential Customers - ask (non-directive questions), survey, enquire
  • Testing - online, offline - find the right combination.


A final word of warning, not everything written on the web is by credible sources, ensure that you are taking information that can be substantiated and is from reliable sources before basing your entire business on the latest idea by a group of idealists.  Researching doesn't have to be boring, consider it an adventure into proving your concept.

John J Norton
Maverick, Grower, Creator, Customer Management Expert
Rate this blog entry:
When it sounds too good to be true ...
EVENT: US Embassy Young Entrepreneur Program 3.0


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Thursday, 27 February 2020