How I Spent My Summer

Janet Christy

In September what will be on your list of accomplishments

  • Vacation Trip 
  • Tan
  • Souvenirs
  • Mosquito Bites
  • New List of qualified Prospects for your business

Summer is a great time for Small Businesses to do marketing research and planning. It is often difficult and frustrating to get things done during the summer because the pace is slower and people are on vacation. So those hot months are an excellent time to identify potential customers/clients, learn more about them to determine if they are a good prospect and develop a plan to make contact.

In my book, Capitalizing On Being Woman Owned, I provide detailed information on identifying and qualifying prospects and marketing your business using the angle of being Woman-Owned. But all Marketing and Sales is based on finding the right angle and using it effectively. Here are 8 Key Pointers for doing effective research once you've decided on your best Marketing Angle.

Choose one or two of your products or services.
When doing research you always want to focus your efforts. Limiting the number of products or services that you will seek prospects for is a way to focus. For example, if you provide Interior Design Services, you could concentrate on design associated with renovation. Or if you provide office supplies you might focus on unique paper products or the fact that you deliver.

Choose a particular type of business to research.
Even though anyone may be a prospect for your products/services, you cannot reserch or contact everyone at once. Narrowing your research to one or two business types will allow you to be thorough and effective in your research. This will also keep you from being overwhelmed, which could cause you to give up on this valuable process before you reap any benefits. Some examples of business types include the following: 

  • Local Government
  • State Government Agencies
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Colleges and Universities
  • K - 12 Schools
  • Construction

You may even want to narrow a business type even further, depending on your specific products/services. For instance you might narrow Manufacturing down to automotive manufacturing or Construction down to medical facility construction.

Choose a geographic area.
Limit your research to an area that you can feasibly research, contact and service. This might be your home county, a neighboring state or a region such as the mid-west.

In my book and workshops I offer detailed "how-to" information on the following points: But here are a few facts that will help you.

Look for prospects that have set goals for the use of Small or Woman/Minority Owned Businesses.
If a business, government agency or education institution has set goals, then they are serious. Those goals will likely be published on their website.

Look for Prospects that need Small or Woman/Minority Owned Subcontractors.
Because many government agencies require their Prime Contractors to use Small, Woman and Minority Subcontractors these people actually need you. One good place to ind solicitations for Subcontractors is SUB-Net on the SBA (Small Business Administration) website

Use your prospects' websites to learn specifics about them.
Learn what they do and how they do it - this will allow you to show how your product/service benefits them, which helps turn them from a prospect to a customer.

Be sure that you can actually serve the needs of your prospect before you call on them.
Otherwise you waste their time and yours.

Document your research.
Don't trust your memory. You need to make notes, keep lists of websites, make record of contacts and note follow up plans.

Janet Christy, President of Leverage & Development, LLC and author, Capitalizing on Being Woman Owned
Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

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