Market Research – Part 2: Understanding Our Environment

Defining Our Company

Before we dive into discussing which markets we feel we are in, let’s step back and take a good look at our company’s goals and values.

  1. Describe your company and why you bring into the market the products you bring.
  2. Where do you feel your company excels?
  3. Where do you feel your company could expand?
  4. How satisfied do you feel your employees are?
  5. How many more clients or more business do you think you could handle?
  6. How do you define, “We made it!” in regards to the level of success you want your company to achieve?
  7. Describe how your customers currently describe your company to their friends and family.
  8. Is your company a local, state, regional, national or international company?

Analyzing Our Competitors

Market research helps you understand your environment and competitionAs a business person, it’s important to take a close look at others who are competing in our market. Find them, study them. Look at who they are communicating with, and how. Analyze what they seem to be doing right and what you feel they are doing wrong. As an example, if you’re in Portland, Oregon, as we are… is your main competitor the Top Portland Company, or just in the middle of the pack?

They must be doing something right, or they wouldn’t have made it this far! It’s up to you to find out exactly what makes them tick…

Where Should You Look?

The internet makes your job so much easier than you probably thought. Here are just a few references of some websites where you can most likely sleuth out all the information you will need:

  • and Google Finance for a snapshot of a public company’s financial position.
  • and their “Way Back Machine” is a not-for-profit organization that has an incredible library of internet sites and their pages over time.
  • where you can find millions of articles, magazines, journals and an in-depth library of reference works.
  • is a service by the US government using the data. Though this is a paid service, this site offers a 7 day free trial to any of their databases, including the US Businesses database which contains over 14 million businesses. Do check with your local library, many of them already have a subscription available for you to access through their website.
  • Each Secretary of State Corporations Division should have searchable online databases where you can find information about Corporations in that state.
  • offers a free trial (24 hours, but it IS a free trial!) of their database of over 4 million companies world-wide.
  • And for an exhaustive list on where to find resources, check out Rutgers Library and their research guides page. They list many sites that are restricted to Rutgers Library users, but if you search for the resource title online, there is almost always a public site offering less-restricted access.
  • For offline solutions, you should be able to find a wealth of information at the Better Business Bureau in your local area, or visit the newspapers and libraries.

What information should you look for? Depending on your industry, you can look for much more specific information, but as a starting point, look for:

  • Who they are, their complete company name, designation, headquarters, subsidiary companies and URL.
  • What product(s) do they sell and to which markets?
  • How long have they been doing this? Was this their initial product in the market, or have their offerings evolved into what they sell today?
  • Have they grown or diminished over the past 3 years? How about in the past year alone?
  • What is their market share in each of the markets they are in, for each of their products?
  • What is their annual revenue for each of their products?
  • What is their retention rate?
  • What are their profit margins for their products?
  • What are their distribution channels, and what is their marketing budget for each channel?
  • Which segments are they targeting within each market?
  • How do they position their solution? Which deep needs do they claim to solve? Which deep emotions do they address?
  • How are they presenting their solution? Is there a spokesperson or one main product that takes center stage?

This level of research may seem tedious at times, but the deeper you’re able to go…the more you’ll understand both where your competition is right now and what to emulate, and what weak areas you’ll be able to dominate in.

In our next section, we’re going to dive into the Market Research Process, starting with outlining our initial understanding of our Market. As a top Portland SEO Agency, this is our bread and butter. If this post was helpful, visit the last post in the Portland SEO Expert series.

< View Market Research Pt 1      View Market Research Pt 3 >

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