It’s a crucial component of every business plan, but market evaluation doesn’t get nearly the level of attention it deserves. The process is intimidating, and many of us don’t even know where to begin.
That’s why we spoke with some of the top business leaders on the scene today, asking them for their input on how to evaluate a market in the internet age. This is what they said.
Forecast Near and Far
A strong market evaluation doesn’t just look at the next few months ahead. It accounts for different time horizons and lays out a plan for each.
“Some markets are more saturated than others, and you need to guess how things will develop in the short and long term to position your brand properly,” said Daniel Snow, CEO and Co-Founder of The Snow Agency. “Anticipate the trends ahead of time so you never end up obsolete.”
Nobody can predict the future, but do your best to forecast the direction of your industry.
Go Down the List
If there’s something missing from your market analysis, don’t just skip it and hope things sort themselves out. Make sure every piece is complete for maximum effect.
“When it comes to evaluating your market, you have to consider every single aspect,” said Jim Beard, COO of BoxGenie. “How much will it cost to create my product? How can I get funding for this product? Who is my target buyer? There are dozens of questions to ask. Once you have laid out an initial plan and have a concise understanding of every aspect of the road to success for your business, you can begin marketing and advertising ventures to lay out and implement those strategies.”
One at a time, check each box for your market evaluation, and don’t cut any corners.
The more saturated your field of focus, the more effort you’ll need to put into your evaluation. Play your cards right and it will pay off with generous market share.
“Real estate is so crowded and multi-dimensional, so we’ve had to be extremely precise in our positioning,” said Tyler Forte, Founder and CEO of Felix Homes. “That’s been a blessing in disguise because now we have a major edge in a proven niche market.”
Remember, no market is too crowded to disrupt and make an impact of your own.
If your company brings nothing new to the table, don’t expect much in terms of results or staying power. Novelty wears off quickly, and you need to have real value to stick around.
“There will be competitors around every corner, even if you think you’ve got an original idea,” said Travis Killian, CEO and Founder of Everlasting Comfort. “Don’t be the company that goes in without doing the proper research and preparation, because you won’t last long.”
Your idea doesn’t need to be completely groundbreaking – just something fresh and different from the norm.
Always Be Aware
After that first round of funding or the first thousand units sold, you’re probably feeling pretty good about your business, and it’s well deserved! However, you can’t slow down now, because the real work has only just begun.
“It’s a mistake to not always be aware of your market,” said Omid Semino, CEO of Diamond Mansion. “Stay on top of trends and keep an eye on the competition. Are they doing something better than I am? What are they doing that I’m not? Figure out the best ways to optimize your website. Having a site that is extremely user-friendly goes a long way in having a successful business online. Consider outsourcing as well. Investing in top-notch marketing teams can be a great way to gain traction in your industry, as well as give you valuable insights into the market you are targeting.”
There’s always something new to cross off the to-do list, so never get complacent.
Ever heard of the concept “failing forward”? It’s a common phrase in the startup industry, and it’s something to keep in mind when performing a market evaluation.
“If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking risks, and that means you’re not going anywhere,” said John W. Holt, Jr., Consultant, Executive, and Sales Expert. “The key is to make mistakes faster than the competition, so you have more chances to learn and win.”
Never beat yourself up over mistakes – use them as opportunities to excel.
Look Forward and Back
You can learn a lot by analyzing past trends in your industry, but don’t get too stuck in the history books. Stay focused on the road ahead, because what’s done is done.
“A thorough market analysis takes time, looking at the past, present, and future of the industry in question,” said Brent Sanders, CEO of Wicksly. “Don’t rush the process because you’re eager to get your brand off the ground. It’s better to put in some more work upfront and get it right the first time.”
The best market roundups draw from past trends and apply them wisely to the next big thing.
Know Key Competitors
In every field, you’ll have a few rivals that will pose the biggest threat to your business. Know these competitors well and treat them as the worthy opponents they are.
“To properly evaluate a market you need to make sure you understand the competition within it,” said Carrie Derocher, CMO of TextSanity. “Each company that is within an industry brings something unique to the table. Whether that be a major innovation or some new product that has never been seen before, everyone has something that they provide to the industry. If you can find a niche through your evaluation then you will have a much better chance of staking your claim in that specific market to find success.”
Rather than shying away from the competition, face them head-on and dive into the fray.
Sense of Urgency
Time is of the essence when starting a business or launching a product. You need to act fast and hammer out the details so you can start turning a profit!
“If you want to evaluate a market properly then you need to see what is the urgency for the products or services being offered,” said Jeffery Brown, President of Big Fig Mattress. “Urgency plays an incredibly important role in deciding the value of products and if you can fully understand how much people are in need of a certain product or service then you can mold your business model around that to find far more success.”
After all, it’s the products that people want ASAP that make the biggest impact.
Deliver on Quality
Too many companies try to find a clever angle or slight edge over their competitors. The truth is that quality matters more than anything, and that should always be the core focus.
“Every industry is crowded these days, and that’s just the impact of the internet and a growing global economy,” said Dr. Robert Applebaum of Applebaum MD. “Your ultimate differentiator will be quality – how well you perform as a service provider. There’s no way around that. Being the best is always the winning plan.”
It’s not an oversimplification – it’s just the plain truth.
Proprietary technology is always a plus when taking a business to market. Leverage that unique piece of tech to attract attention and steal customers from competitors.
“Our business model of using AI to formulate customized skincare products stands apart from other companies within the skincare market, so in this sense, we have an advantage in terms of offering something more unique,” said Ming Zhao, CEO and Co-Founder of Proven Skincare. “That being said, we do not sell our products in physical stores like many other skincare companies do. It is important to be aware of all the ways in which your business compares to other businesses within a particular market in order to determine appropriate business decisions, yet without compromising the integrity of the brand.”
Not all tech is revolutionary, but a novel idea can go a long way.
Master the Niche
The internet has shown us just how deep the rabbit hole goes when it comes to niche markets. The money is there for the taking if you investigate these opportunities and attack.
“In an industry like health and wellness, you’ve really got to focus on finding a niche and targeting an audience that you know inside and out,” said Ben Teicher, President of Healthy Directions. “That’s the true way to get ahead and create a loyal, dedicated customer base.”
There are likely niches you never knew existed, so do some digging and find them for yourself.
Your market evaluation should be heavy on analysis and forecasting cash flow, but don’t let the technical details get in the way of being a real, relatable brand.
“You can compete with companies head to head, but authenticity is going to win out every time,” said Dr. Blake Livingood, Founder of Livingood Daily. “My brand is a direct reflection of my personality and my philosophy, and that has served me extremely well in this venture.”
Decide what sets your business apart from the perspective of the customer, and make that a core focus moving forward.
The entire economy has accelerated due to digital adaptation and trends like remote work. Your market evaluation should reflect this fast-paced environment.
“World trade means competition from anywhere; advancing technology encourages cross-industry competition,” said Eric Allison, Head of Product at Joby Aviation. “Consequently, strategic planning must consider who our future competitors will be, not only who is here today.”
That’s right, consider the competition that doesn’t even exist yet, because they’ll be there.
Your business has strong points and weak points, just like any other. The sooner you acknowledge these truths, the quicker you can set to work and make progress.
“Evaluating a market is very useful in order to determine where your business stands within this particular market,” said Matt Seaburn, Partner and President of Rent-a-Wheel. “This way you can learn to capitalize on your business’s strengths against other businesses. In our case, we offer flexible payment plans unlike many other wheel and tire companies, and we have over 135 stores across the U.S. unlike some wheel and tire shops with maybe just a few locally. These are the things we choose to emphasize when we market ourselves, so that customers can notice how we are different.”
A market evaluation should teach you just as much about your own company as it teaches you about the competition.
Use a Road Map
Not sure where to even begin with your market evaluation? Get some advice from established professionals to help guide the way. Just remember that the final product is on you.
“Market analysis is a huge component of our business, and we’ve got our processes down to the letter,” said Roy Ferman, CEO and Board Chairman of Seek Capital. “First-time business owners can learn from these blueprints, but that’s no substitute for sitting down and doing the work.”
You’ve got a wealth of resources at your disposal, so why not use them all?
Your business will face competition in terms of products, services, and marketing. One area where you can really stand out is community, which is essential in today’s landscape.
“Though there are certainly other companies that sell gummy vitamins, not all of them are organic,” said Mary Berry, Founder and CEO of Cosmos Vita. “Furthermore, our brand really comes from a nurturing place. We emphasize not only that health is important, but that all humans truly deserve it. We want to create a space where people feel self-worth and love for themselves. So sometimes it’s not just about the product – Your business can stand out based upon its character and personality, as well.”
Your brand’s personality is one-of-a-kind, even if your products aren’t 100% unique.
Let Competitors Guide You
Top business leaders don’t resent their competitors or think less of them. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, and that’s part of what makes them so powerful.
“Be thankful for your competition,” said Jeff Goodwin, Sr. Director of Performance Marketing and Ecommerce at Orgain. “They’re the ones that will expose your faults and shortcomings, ultimately pointing your business in the right direction.”
Learn to love the competition and your business can’t fail.
Seek Customer Insights
There is no shortage of customer feedback available on the internet, and you’re missing out if you write them off.
“Real customers from across the web can be a crucial source of insight when performing your market analysis,” said Guna Kakulapati, Co-Founder and CEO of CureSkin. “They’re not shy about sharing their true opinions online, so use them to your advantage.”
As they say, the customer is always right, so pay attention to what they’re saying whether it’s good or bad.
Never Stop Analyzing
Celebrating wins and sharing high fives is one thing, but never get too comfortable in your position as a business. There’s always a new competitor waiting to take your spot.
“Market evaluation doesn’t end when you first get a taste of success,” said Jordan Smyth, CEO and Founder of Gleamin. “You should always be running the numbers behind the scenes and seeing where you can find another edge. That’s how you get to the top and stay there.”
Stay hungry and keep revising your market analysis to never fall behind the pack.
Maybe your brand isn’t the biggest or most prestigious (yet), so you’ll have to find a way to compete in another area. Make this part of your evaluation and clarify your focus in the short term.
“Your company can compete on a number of different levels, so account for them all in a market evaluation,” said Denis Hegstad, Co-Founder of LiveRecover. “Products, services, customer experience, marketing – it’s about putting together the complete package and rising to the occasion.”
As your brand gains traction, you can start strengthening other areas of your business to compete on a bigger level.
Listen on Social
Yes, there’s a lot of noise on social media these days, but if you dig beneath the surface you might find some useful knowledge that changes the course of your market evaluation.
“Tune into social media and see how trends are shifting in your industry,” said Mike Pasley, Founder of Famous IRL. “That’s truly the front lines for business these days, and you can come away with powerful insights by listening in on conversations and keywords.”
Social media is free, fast, and always new. Use it wisely and to your advantage.
Worth the Wait
Just like any aspect of starting a business, a proper market evaluation takes time. You don’t want to rush through the process or seek shortcuts. Your entire company depends on it.
“You might think that a market analysis is tedious, and you’d be right,” said Kelli Lane, CMO of Genexa. “But believe me when I say it’s worth putting in that effort. Your future self will thank you when you find success down the road.”
Act with urgency and expedience, but don’t jump to conclusions without the necessary research and info.
Need a bit of inspiration to flesh out your market analysis and get a clearer picture of what to do? Look no further than the latest and greatest trends in your own industry.
“Draw inspiration from your competitors and the customers you want to reach,” said Ashley Troutman, Senior Director of Brand Management at Mother Dirt. “They will tell you all you need to know about their desires and what they expect in terms of service. Listen closely, and try to stay a step or two ahead of the trends.”
If you’re truly dedicated to your craft, inspiration should not be hard to find.
Focus on Value
Trying to outdo your competitors on their terms is often a losing strategy. You need to transcend these rivalries and think about how your own company will reach new heights.
“I’d suggest you don’t focus too intensely on outcompeting brands in your space,” said Nik Sharma, CEO of NSharma. “Put more of an emphasis on originality and value creation, and you’ll naturally pull ahead of the competition over time.”
Market analysis is important, but it’s not the be-all, end-all.
Don’t Forget Marketing
A great product will do a lot of the heavy lifting for your company, but marketing is what will take things to the next level. Give it the attention it deserves.
“Your products should be the driving force in your competitive analysis, but don’t forget marketing either,” said Ashwin Sokke, Co-Founder of WOW Skin Science. “Our brand found its footing with aggressive and creative online marketing, which gave us a critical edge in a crowded field.”
Make sure your market evaluation is balanced to cover all the key areas, marketing included.
Whether you like it or not, your business will receive feedback from day one. Make this a key element of your market analysis and you’ll always be one step ahead.
“Your customers will always give you the feedback you need, whether you’re first starting out or in your tenth year in business,” said Benjamin Smith, Founder and CEO of Disco. “Listen to them, take them seriously, and let them be your compass when you don’t know where to go next.”
Use surveys, promotions, and every other tactic in the playbook to get as much feedback as possible, especially early on.
If you’re struggling to piece together a market evaluation, remember why you started in the first place. This is a crucial component of your business plan that will take your venture far.
“A market evaluation will help you get financing, support from partners, and create a strong foundation for your business from the start,” said Michael Fischer, Founder of Elite HRT. “Don’t let it be a last-minute thing that you just brush over and hope for the best.”
Treat your market evaluation like a key pillar of your business strategy, because that’s what it is.
Awaiting the Opportunity
It can be a bit discouraging to go through a market analysis and see all the competition you’re up against. Never forget your core value proposition as a business and maintain a healthy sense of self-belief.
“Today’s customers are always in search of something new, the next best thing that they can latch onto and be a part of,” said Tyler Faux, Co-Founder and CEO of Supergreat. “If you’re able to tap into that excitement and put your business in the right position, you stand to benefit in a huge way.”
Some of the most successful businesses in history faced unlikely odds, so never worry about what might or might not happen.
A market assessment will answer a lot of questions about your business, your industry, and your own readiness to dive in. This is the final step before hitting the gas, so be prepared!
“Before leaping into starting a business, I recommend researching and evaluating the market you want to launch into,” said Lauren Bosworth, CEO of Love Wellness. “Look at the market size and gauge the interest of those who would be in your target audience. Before you decide to invest, make sure it is a worthwhile investment.”
It may not be the most thrilling part of starting a business, but a market analysis is so important to success. Take it seriously, take your time, and enjoy the process.