How do you become up to speed on your industry? How can you learn more about your product/service category? Here are 10 ways you can study the marketplace:
1. Ask a pro what they think. This can include a mentor, another business owner, a trade show attendee, a reporter.
2. Read everything you can about your industry. Buy magazines–consumer and trade. Listen to programs and attend seminars in your product/service category.
3. Take a shopping trip. Visit stores where your customers shop. See what’s new. Go online and search there also.
4. Check out market trends by going to trend setting websites in your industry.
5. Go to trade shows. Walk around and see what is going on in your field.
6. Network. Join groups, chat online. Learn from your peers.
7. Take a class. If there is a community college in your area, investigate the course catalog. What can you learn about marketing, branding and the small business arena you are in–learn and grow.
8. Visit websites and blogs that cover your industry. See what category leaders are saying and what they are doing.
9. Go to government agencies and see what free webinars they are hosting. The Department of Commerce, for example, offers programs on exporting, importing and more. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a lot of free programs you can investigate.
10. Watch television. Watch CNBC, watch shopping channels and any other programs in your field of interest.