By Robert Conrad
It’s no secret: trying to get a great idea off the ground is hard. In the past, researching for a new niche in an existing market was done through face-to-face interviews. Though this approach can still be insightful, the Internet has also provided some tools to help startups determine their target audience. The idea and market research phase can be tedious, but it is a necessary step to determine whether or not your idea is marketable.
As you consider your new product or idea, ask yourself this: who would you market that to? Some of the biggest commercial flops in history, such as Lifesavers soda and McPizza, have been credited to inadequate market research. Neither one of these products knew exactly who they were going to market their product to, but it is through their failings that much can be gleaned.
Now that I’ve given you some examples of bad marketing, how about an example that works? TOMS shoes, founded by Blake Mycoskie in 2006, donates a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair of shoes purchased! This model works because it doesn’t tout itself to a niche group, but rather to anyone who needs shoes and is interested in philanthropic efforts. Customers can walk away from their purchase feeling like they have made a positive difference!
Mycoskie majored in both Philosophy and Business while attending college, which helped him to craft the successful vision of TOMS Shoes. Philosophy helped him to realize the humanitarian aspect of his business model, while Business gave him useful tools such as successful marketing and leadership. Many new entrepreneurs discount the importance of their responsibility to their community, but they couldn’t be more wrong.
So what about the rest of us who began working a 9 to 5 right out of high school? Business courses themselves have adapted over the course of time to include comparable online alternatives to brick and mortar foundations. These MBA programs benefit Business students who are interested in learning more advanced techniques in marketing, leadership and finance. Most startups are already working to make a living and don’t have the time to attend a conventional institution.
So what are the benefits of an online Business college? Attendance is flexible, which allows students to continue earning a living, engage with their community and their target audience to determine if their idea is viable. Also, due to the dynamic nature of the Internet, programs tend to be more progressive and provide the most pertinent information. Compare that to the dusty pages in seemingly endless tomes!
In summation, we can learn a lot from the example of Mycoskie. He exemplifies the importance of corporate social responsibility while overseeing a profitable business like TOMS Shoes, as well as the importance of education. Though we may all be hard-wired from birth to be successful, many of us just need a nudge in the right direction through inspiration. So what are you waiting for? Get out there, earn an education, and conduct the necessary research to determine if your idea is profitable!
Robert Conrad is an Online Business Graduate and freelance writer with a small-town heart and big time dreams! Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/RobrtConrad1865.