Market research can be an expensive and time-consuming activity – large companies spend fortunes on gathering information about their potential customers in order to target them more effectively. Believe it or not, you have some big advantages over these large companies. You are in a niche market. How do you know who your customers are? Who are your competitors? How much should you charge?. As an expert in your field you are likely to have a good understanding of your customers’ needs and how your services can provide value to them.

According to a London SEO agency, market research tells you who your customers are and which of your services you can sell them. You need it because without this bigger picture you can’t make informed decisions about where you fit in and how to market your services.

The first part of your market research is the 3Cs analysis. This helps you determine the basic factors that will enable you to fulfil customers’ needs and differentiate yourself from your competition. The 3Cs are:

  1. Company – This is the ‘internal’ part that you’ve already done a lot of work on: What are you good at? Who are you and where do you want to be? What do you do?

  2. Customers – Who are they? What do they need? Where are they?

  3. Competition – Who are they and what are they offering (and not offering)? Understanding your competition helps you differentiate yourself and see where you can fit into the ecosystem.

So, 1 is internal, 2 and 3 are external. This framework helps you to understand and define what you offer, how you offer it and what your unique selling proposition (USP) is that will connect with your target market. The 3Cs are the foundation of your market research, which in turn underpins your marketing plan.

You should also be aware that the 3Cs are dynamic – they change over time – and are interdependent: if one changes, one or both of the others do too. You also operate in an evolving and ever-changing marketplace where customers and competitors come and go.

Before drilling down into the 3Cs in detail, remember that if you are a portfolio freelancer then your 3Cs analysis will be different for each strand of the portfolio and you will need to analyse each separately.