Market Planning 101
By: Tony Ozelis

Data Collection

(The fun part)

Take your map, pens and composition book; pick one of the end points of your market or trade area and start driving. If the area that you need to cover is very large, you might want to divide the market into sections so it's easier to manage and, most importantly, you won't miss any potential opportunities.

What you will need to do is drive every commercial roadway in the market (Avoiding any expressways and/or freeways, of course, because rarely do you ever find sites there) and identify on your map anything that could have a positive or negative impact on your business (your direct & indirect competition, traffic generators, impressions of residential neighborhoods, etc). That’s why you’ll want to focus your attention on the commercial roads right now and not the limited access roads or residential neighborhoods...that comes later. $7.49 .com

As you travel

When you come across a use similar to yours (This would be your Direct Competition), take out your Red felt-tip pen and write the businesses name, a symbol or a just big old dot on the map (and be as accurate as possible to where it is on the street).

When you come across a use that offers a similar, but different, product or service to yours (Your Indirect Competition) note it on the map with a Green pen and in a similar fashion.

Traffic generators (Shopping centers, hospitals, colleges and universities, large industrial parks, office complexes; anything that generates traffic – duh) are very important to many businesses and should always be noted on your map, in Black ink.

Finally, use the Blue pen for jotting down your ideas, impressions or even phone numbers (this is, after all, just a map…it’s not the US Constitution).

There is a good reason for this beyond us just being fussy; as you go through this exercise, you’ll notice certain patterns start to emerge. And when you are finished, what you’ll see is an accurate (albeit colorful) depiction of where all of the commercial office (Day Population), retail (Traffic Generators) and basic residential activity (Customers) of your market is.

The point of this exercise is to identify both the best and hopefully the potentially worst possible areas for you to place your business.

(You’ll notice that we have used the term “location” in the plural sense.
The reason for this is that you should always be looking at as many locations as possible).
Aside from being able to have a larger universe of sites to possibly choose form,
if you consider a few sites at a time, you’ll be able to negotiate from a stronger bargaining position).


Paying attention to the Details

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Big Fat Safety Tip

While you’re driving, please be careful…constantly looking from side to side, rather than looking straight ahead can result in a rear-end collision and that could ruin your entire day.

You may want to think about enlisting the help of a designated driver.

Aside from avoiding accidents, it will free up your eyes to pay attention to the sides of the road
where all of the information is.

Besides, whomever you choose to help you out may enjoy driving around with you so much, hearing you say “Stop Here!” every two minutes, that they’ll offer to buy you lunch...

OK…that’s a bit of a pay for the lunch,
It’s better than exchanging license and insurance card information with
someone that’s about to sue you for rear-ending them.

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