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Up to now, I have been looking at myself, at my product (or service) and have not really tested my ideas. The time has come for me to check if I can offer my product (or service) to the public, and can I make a profit from my efforts. Will people pay for it and can I start a business on this idea?

Marketing, as it is called, has been described as the art of making a profit while offering people what they want. To find out, I will have to do some marketing research (another big word) ; it only means that step by step I will first find the answers to the following questions, so here goes:

a) What is the physical size of my market (geographical boundaries)?

b)   Is my product (or service) what people are ready to pay for?

c) Who is my competition and what are they doing in the market?

If I proceed logically, step by step, I can do most of the work myself, here is how:

a)   How extensive is my market?

To fix its boundaries, I need a detailed map of the area I consider as my market. On the map, I draw heavy lines all around the geographical area I have chosen as my market. I can usually find such a map at City Hall. I have now started on the first step of my market research, and, I must admit it was not too difficult.

b)   Will people pay for my product or service?

The best way to find this out is to look in the Yellow Pages, find the heading that describes my product, trade or service, and list the names and address of businesses supplying a similar product or service as the one I will use to start my own business. A simple telephone call to several businesses on my list will tell me how much people are willing to pay for competitive products or services. I will note down these prices, how people pay (per unit, per hour, per dozen, per weight, etc.) , try to get descriptive pamphlets and as much information as possible about the competitive product or service. Writing these information into a complete list of the characteristics of the competing products or services and rank them, from best to worst. Next, I will write a full description of my future product, listing the advantages over competing products or services already in the market. I will also list shortcomings, as now is the time to make improvements. I next must consider the price I am going to charge, in relation to competitor's prices. More? Less? Why?  To be successful, I must make a profit and for the moment I can tentatively set my price. Later, I will take a more sophisticated approach. I now have found that people are willing to pay for products or services similar to mine, I have made my comparisons and have found that my idea had advantages on the competition. I can now proceed to the next question.

c) Who is my competition and where is it?

From the Yellow Pages and the list I have drawn up, I know who my competitors are in general, but in my market, who will I be competing with? When I marked the boundaries of my market on the detailed map of my area, I had made a decision that, at least to start with, this would be the extent of my market. Using the list of my competitors, I will select the ones located within my market, mark their location on my map and study the map to see if there are gaps, where there are no competitors, or where there is a heavy concentration of them. This visual check of the competition will help me ask the necessary questions concerning the location of my business. Why is there no competitor in that corner of my market? Why are most of the competitors bunched so close together? The answer to these questions can save me from making a mistake in the physical location of my new business. Posing as an interested customer, I can visit all or most of my competitors, within my market, to learn about prices, credit terms, methods of payment, displays, promotions, repair or service policies, the acceptance or not of credit cards, listen to sales pitches and get all the information I can, as to what the competitors are doing and how they are doing it. I will keep a diary of all the good ideas I come across. They must do some things right remain in business.

At this point I know a lot more of the market than I used to before I started this exercise THE MARKET does not look as puzzling as before, but there are still more questions to answer.      WORKSHEET