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Proof of concept is one of the most critical factors in starting a successful business. Often, entrepreneurs rely on their instincts or anecdotal evidence to support the idea that there’s a market for their goods or services. This is a mistake for several reasons. Data can help give an entrepreneur a more accurate picture of the marketplace and realistic ideas about the extant demand for a product.

One of the best ways to gauge the level of demand for a good or service is to look at what people are saying. The problem with surveying family and friends is that they may not want to let a loved one down. It’s better to find ways to get disinterested feedback from the public at large. Using analytics and social media are two great ways to do that.

Keyword Search Trends

Google Trends is one of the best ways to look for keywords that are trending. Using popular keywords in the website for a new startup is an excellent way of ensuring it will come up in Google searches. Google Trends even supplies graphic representations of the popularity for various searches. This means that company founders can see if demand may be cyclical, what search terms are the most popular, and so on. It’s a handy tool when making a marketing plan.

Competitor Data

Another essential factor to look at is competitor data. It’s crucial to find out where similar companies are advertising, their revenues, and how many people they employ. Other useful data can include the size and number of locations for their business. Information about how they operate is also vital. For example, some industries do most of their business online, while other companies still operate primarily through face-to-face interactions. And in some market sectors, there’s a transition from one style to another.

Sentiment Analysis & Social Media

Sentiment analysis is another wonderful way to assemble market data. One of the most effective ways to do this is through social media. Find out what people are saying about similar products. Are they happy? Do they have complaints? This will tell you what resonates with a potential core customer and what pitfalls to avoid. Overall, it can give entrepreneurs a near-complete picture of opportunities in the marketplace.