While its nice to take a look at statistics once in a while but they should not be your major concern and neither they should be your sole basis for making a decision! When I personally am researching a target audience - I look for the psychological mindset rather than numbers. And, that always works better for me. Now, How can you identify this Psychological Mindset your target audience may have? Actually , its not that difficult as it may seem. See what kind of content and tactics your Niche Portals and Niche Publications are using.

Niche Forums

Nothing offers more business intelligence than forums. Go visit them and try to feel what question are people asking and what answer are they getting. One of the best places for this kind of research is the general forums or the hangout zone - whatever they may call it. This is because at the general forums people speak their real mind rather than hiding behind the masks of professionalism. But a word of caution - Try to take a detached view of things. See how they respond to those answers. You may disagree on a lots of points and perhaps be raged about some. Your purpose to visit is to pick intelligence not get too much involved.

Another thing is to use your commonsense and see which comments are individual and which are generalized. You purpose there is to focus on the general mindset! Like , I get a lot of idea about how web - developers think at SitePoint Forums ( even though I am quite involved in there).

Your Competitors

This is perhaps the best way to research your niche market. Nope , I do not recommend you copying them exactly but taking inspiration from them. This way you are picking a fully ripe - low hanging fruit! So How exactly should you be Legally Spying your competitors without actually hiring , recently jobless , ex CIA Director George Tenant ?

We have always heard it this way – Know your competition. But what should you know about them ? The color of the diaper they wore when they were born? No , not exactly that much but the more the better. You should be knowing at least the things outlined below.

Learn their tactics : Will you ever see your competitors actually come to public boards and honestly blab our all the tactics that they use to grab the customers that could actually have been yours? Not unless its a kid who does not know anything about how business is done. But there are ways that you can actually Spy on them and learn the strategies they use.

See their pitches : Pitches are made in public and they always will have to be , otherwise what is the meaning of pitching the client when the same information which was meant to make the prospect a client is actually being kept secret form her. And listening to others and reading their material is not a crime but copying it is. See what psychological triggers do they use? How do they present it ? What do you like in it or what do you hate in it? And most importantly, always, after you have heard or read the pitch put yourself in that person’s shoes and think – how would you have presented the same pitch?

Why do they roam? Keep an eye on which all sites they visit and what content do they post on those sites. You don’t have to install key-loggers on their computers to know about it. Go to famous communities, blogs, chatrooms and wherever you think that they would be posting messages or talking. And it’s perfectly legal to read these posts and keep an eye on their activities in public places.
Pick hints of what they are up to and how they are doing their business. I have seen that most of the times people are very careless about what they post . Well, its their fault that they posted it and not our that we read it.

How do they keep their customers happy: Learn that what all goodies they offer to their customers and how do they handle their customer support. Most of the times you will find that they offer all they details about their offering on their sites. Pickup ideas on what sort of addons do they provide and what exact language or presentation method do they use to offer it.Try contacting their customer support and see how do they handle it.

Customer Service

Let me give you an example of the thing I learnt from my hosting company about customer service. Whenever I take live support ( chat with their customer service executives ) , just moments
after I finish I receive an email from them stating what my problem was and what steps did they take to solve it. For them there are three benefits for this:

1. Most of people have a tendency to forget things just minutes after it is told to them. So by sending me this email they are giving me a detailed answer which I can refer to in case something slips from my mind.

2. This shows that they are professional and really care about my problem.

3. This gives them an opportunity to do a bit of brand building by adding the closing line : ‘We were glad to help you and in case you have any further problems , we are here to help you. Thank you for using XYZ co. Your business is very important to us.’

Talk to your clients about them : So you have won the client ? Chances are that your competition might have also pitched for the same project. Talk to your client about it. Most of the times they will tell you the exact details of the presentation that was made and what they liked of disliked it. I personally find this as the most valuable form of information. Not only because this tells me what strategies my competitors use but also what that client likes or dislikes. Next time I pitch that client for a project I remember not to do the things my client dislikes. With all this information about your competitor at your disposal, you now know how they handle your target market. Take inspiration from it.

Get my point?

Ads focused on your Target Audience

Most of the ads are based on the AIDA concept (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action). Take a look at the ads that are repeated again and again (this is an indication that they work) and see what pain points are they touching and how you can solve those problems yourself. And , sometimes numbers may help. If you can afford it consider buying reports from Jupiter, Forrester and the kind.


This article is based on a response given by the Forums Staff to a question raised at Marketing Forums.

Recommended Answers

All 2 Replies

Hi Pulse ,

I wrote an recent blog about

"Spying on your Competition with Quantcast"
{snip link}

People all over the net are looking for free things that will give them some kind of insight on how or what their competition is up to. I must say Dan, that Quantcast is one of the most easiest website that the average person can use.

The other services you can use also are great also...Like
Google AdWords Keyword Tool, Yahoo Site Explorer and SEO Link Analysis. They are a little more complex, but very information.

Knowing what your competition traffic position and marketing history can give you an blue print of foot steps to follow.

Thanks Pulse , for an great well put together article.

Antonio Coleman AKA "TrafficColeman" Signing Off

You forgot one main online research tool which is essential to SEO and internet marketing - keyword research

Keywords are how search engines identify the content on the page and show results. Some people say up to 90% of the traffic on the internet comes from search engines.

So how do you find out what keywords people type in to find the product/service they are looking for? Google adwords keyword tool show's you exact search numbers for various keywords.

Of course analyzing the results and competition for those keywords is tons of work but it'll get you started...

Be a part of the DaniWeb community

We're a friendly, industry-focused community of developers, IT pros, digital marketers, and technology enthusiasts meeting, learning, and sharing knowledge.