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Free marketing research from word of mouth

Three great ways to use word of mouth to get free market research.

  1. Track your "most emailed stories" or products that have the most uses of the tell-a-friend form. You get an instant answer to which content/products are working. Elevate them to the home page.
  2. Use YouTube to measure brand exposure. Tim Dyson explains it well (I edited for length):

    The popularity of YouTube is undeniable. This promoted me to see if it could be used to rank major brands. While highly unscientific in some ways and slightly unreliable in others, I used the search engine in YouTube to see which major brands got the most clips when you search by their name.The results were:

    • Disney 224,000 <— I guess they ought to have a lot of content!
    • Google 97,000 <— they own YouTube…
    • Yahoo! 81,100
    • Apple 74,200
    • Microsoft 44,700
    • Coca Cola 34,400
    • Toyota 33,400
    • Nokia 27,700
    • McDonalds 22,000
    • GE 15,000
    • WalMart 10,600
    • Starbucks 7,200
    • Intel 6,280

    Now this research took about 5 minutes and as you can probably tell was based on a list of brand names I pulled form an old Fortune article plus a few names I threw in. It wouldn’t be hard to do some more detailed research using the YouTube site and search engine to get a sense of how many clips are appearing each day by brand etc.

  3. Use eBay. Also from Tim:

    I was reading a blog entry the other day that asked what had happened to the Microsoft Zune, the much touted rival to the iPod. Given the money Microsoft spent promoting the product it is a good question to ask. One way I sought an answer was to look on eBay and see what price these were now selling for. In essence I wanted to see if there was a big market for them and also what had happened to prices. It then occurred to me that eBay in effect offers a great tool for people wanting to track the life cycle of a consumer product. You can pretty easily take off the current pricing of products (highest and lowest) and also the volume available on a daily basis and thus plot the rise and fall of these products over time. This is the sort of data that usually required expensive research. Thanks to eBay it is essentially free if you can get someone to pull the data, or if you create a tool that automatically takes off the data. In the case of the Zune it did sell at a small premium to start with and can now be bought for around $180, which is about a 28% discount. Taking my theory another step I’m pretty sure you could use this kind of data to predict when you need to release a new version of a product in order to prevent the sales price sliding too far. Of course you could also use it to predict when your competitor should be releasing a new product.

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