Need Great Market Research on the Cheap?
Need a smart, easy and shap way to do market research?
Patrick Misterovich, our Guest Blogger, is a stay-at-home dad to three young boys and spare-time entrepreneur. He created the PEZ MP3 Player and
helped create the Helmet MP3 Player. His one-man company is Lincoln West
Studio, LLC. He wanted to share some helpful tips with the inventors and entreprenuers at AmericanInventorSpot.com.
Here's his article:
* * * * *
How do you know your great idea is really great? You can ask your
spouse or your neighbor. You can use your intuition. There is nothing
wrong with believing in your idea and rolling the dice. But if you are
seeking investors, pitching to retailers, or going after a license,
your hunch is not going to be enough. They want numbers. They want
I know what you are thinking. Market research, yech. Boring. Expensive.
And inexact to boot.
But you are an inventor, an innovator. There are easier ways. Cheaper
ways. More fun ways.
A few years ago I hatched an idea. A brilliant one (or so I thought.)
Why not make an MP3 player that looked like a PEZ candy dispenser. The
PEZ MP3 player. There are millions of people who love and collect PEZ.
MP3 players are one of the hottest consumer products out there.
Intuitively, I knew I had a winner. I was willing to bet on my
intuition. But I needed a license from PEZ Candy Inc. and I they needed
to see more than my self-confidence.
When you are a one-person company, working out of your basement, with
practically no budget, hiring a real-live market research firm is out
of the question. But I am an inventor. I can find a way.
Here is what I did.
Some quick Googling and I unearthed some basic market information that
could use. I found projections for the worldwide and US MP3 market. I
found some information about the size of the PEZ collectors market and
the name awareness figures for the PEZ brand (an astonishing 87%.)
Both markets were significant. People were buying MP3 players. People
were buying and collecting PEZ. But what about overlap. Would MP3
buyers buy a PEZ version? Would PEZ collectors buy an MP3 player? In my
heart I knew there had to be overlap.
Market research is not an exact science. It is an educated guess.
So I needed to educate my guesses and present my findings to PEZ Candy
Inc. And I needed it quickly and cheaply.
I turned to Google Ad Words. With Ad Words, I can put my questions in
front of thousands of eyeballs and see what happens. Every search at
Google has a column of paid advertising on the right hand side of the
page. The ads show up when there is a contextual match with the
keywords. It would allow me to target my question to right people.
I wanted to know a couple of things.
Would PEZ collectors want an MP3 player shaped like a PEZ dispenser?
Are there other market segments who would be drawn to a PEZ MP3 player?
With Google Ad Words, I was able to create a text-only ad that would
show up in a Google search when a user searches on some keywords that I
selected. Google Ads words has a lot of sophisticated controls that
lets me set up keyword campaigns and bid on how much I am willing to
pay whenever someone clicks on my ad.
I could control how much I spent and I could track the results in
real-time (technically not real-time but compared to a tradtional
market research campaign it might as well be real-time.)
In one weekend, with $50, I answered my questions.
The first thing I did was come up with some keywords that would tease
out PEZ collectors, music fans, and gadget lovers. I wrote a short ad
for each keyword.
For PEZ related keywords I wrote:
"PEZ MP3 player coming soon. Click here to find out more."
For music related keywords I wrote variations of this:
"Listen to Green Day on a PEZ MP3 player. Click here to find out more."
For gadget related keywords I wrote:
"Coming Soon. The PEZ MP3 Player. Click here to find out more."
If they "clicked here" they ended up at an online survey that I hosted
on a free blogging service. The survey was simple. I explained that I
was developing a PEZ MP3 player. I asked if they would be interested in
buying one. If they would, how much they would be willing to pay. I
asked what features they would expect. I asked for an email address, a
web address, and I provided a comment box if they wanted to say
With this simple campaign I was able to learn a lot.
I watched specific keywords and tracked how many people saw the ad and
how many people clicked on it. That gave me an idea of who wanted a PEZ
MP3 player. It also gave me an idea of the size of each market.
Thousands of people were searching gadget keywords and music keywords.
PEZ searchers were far fewer. On the other hand, the percentage of
people who clicked on the ad was higher for PEZ searchers.
I ended up with nearly 200 completed surveys. At $50 for the campaign,
it worked out to 25 cents per survey. A real bargain.
PEZ collectors were very interested but they generally expected the
The idea resonated with fans of what might be called Underground
Culture. I had some enthusiastic responses from the Punk/Emo crowd.
They apparently viewed the PEZ MP3 player as a anti-establishment idea.
The idea appealed to the geek chic.
Of course, every idea gets its shared of doubters. There were a handful
of "dumbest idea ever" and "what idiot thought of this?"
I learned as much from the open ended comment field as I did from the
specific questions. But the Ad Words statistics and the specific
questions gave me hard numbers. Both would be important.
To my surprise, the survey and ad campaign had a minor viral effect.
Over the next few days I was able to find mentions of the PEZ MP3
player in sporatic parts of the blogosphere and community sites and I
received a slew of emails asking for more information. The blog posts,
discussion threads, and emails provided more anecdotal evidence to
support my idea.
$50. One weekend. It wasn't perfect information but it was good enough.
I pulled together the statics and some analysis and put it together
with a marketing plan.
I was enough to secure a license contract for the PEZ MP3 player. And
my hunch was correct. The PEZ MP3 player sold out of its first edition
in a matter of months.