The Problems with Market Research Reports

Have you ever looked at the table of contents for a $4,000 market research report?  It looks so enticing, like all of your questions about the market or competitors will be answered.  Market size, growth rate, competitive landscape, customer dynamics, etc. – it’s like 300 pages of candy for someone trying to write a business plan or get data on an industry.

Unfortunately, research reports almost never live up to the hype, for a number of reasons. Continue reading The Problems with Market Research Reports

Using Primary Research

What do you do when you’ve scoured the web and subscription databases without finding the information you need to make a business decision?  The answer is primary research, the often misunderstood world of actually calling people and interviewing them.  To make the discussion a little more specific, I thought I’d use the example of a tree nursery owner who works with residential landscapers and who’s considering whether to enter the commercial landscaping market. Continue reading Using Primary Research

Using LinkedIn for Research

LinkedIn is a useful way to keep track of your network, but I tend to use it more often for research purposes.  The information available tends to be hit or miss, so I’d recommend going in with the mindset of quickly filtering through the site rather than spending a lot of time on it.  I’ll walk you through my experience using the site and what I’ve found useful.


People and company profiles are where the action is.  Here are my thoughts on what to look for:

  • I tend to use LinkedIn to find fairly senior people in the company (VP and above), and I then add them to my general background searches.  You can often find much more specific search engine results by including the names of senior management, and LinkedIn can be a good way to go beyond the leadership teams named on most companies’ sites.
  • Another useful piece of information is the titles and connections between people.  You can get pretty far constructing an org chart based on LinkedIn. Continue reading Using LinkedIn for Research

Information Sources for Market Sizing

I described some general approaches to market sizing in a previous post, but one of the biggest challenges is not necessarily the overall process, but rather finding the right data.  This is true whether you’re doing top-down or bottom-up market sizing.  There are a number of valuable data sources out there, but for most US-centric market size analyses, the US Census is the best place to start.  They have a wealth of data both on US businesses and on population statistics.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics is also a great complement with its detailed information on consumer expenditures and time usage patterns. Continue reading Information Sources for Market Sizing

The Poor State of Business Journalism (From a Strategy Perspective)

As a consultant, marketer, and now business owner, I’ve always relied on the business press for much of my information on markets, trends, and competitors.  I’ve never been fully satisfied with the results, but after putting some more thought into it, I’ve decided that business journalism is in many ways a very poor source of information for business analysts.  A lot of journalistic conventions are counterproductive for real business analysis.  Considering that the entire field of news and journalism is changing radically these days, I wonder if it’s also time for a clean break and a rethinking of business journalism. Continue reading The Poor State of Business Journalism (From a Strategy Perspective)