Use Surrogate Websites to Covertly Test Markets While Under the Radar

Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 offer opportunities for testing markets while a business remains “under the radar”. For example, within the realm of Web 1.0 options, a surrogate website can be built and outfitted with content to test a market. This tactic is rich with benefits. Consider that a domain name can be registered anonymously, thereby insulating the domain owner from public scrutiny. If online marketing techniques are successfully brought to the task, then this surrogate website can be made popular within a target market segment and, at precisely the right time, either the anonymity of domain ownership can be dropped and site visits, visitors, etc can cleanly transfer over to the core business or, once again at precisely the right time, the surrogate website can be de-emphasized and shut down should the core business decide to abandon the market effort. As well, various market assumptions can be tested from a distance, as required. Contrary positions can be juxtaposed within a surrogate website effort, or, if resources are available, contrary positions can presented via a number of differing surrogate websites.

Adding Web 2.0, social media, features can contribute, substantially, to the amount of useful information collected from the surrogate website(s) exercise. For example, efforts can be made to encourage visitors to register with the website to participate in a range of activities including discussions, news, opinions, ratings, etc. The registration process will deliver email addresses, company names, etc. As well, social media features can be made either overtly available or covertly available to registered users only. The end result of either approach will be to render site visitors into something of a sample group to whom planned offerings can be presented to determine their viability before commitments are made to definitely move in one direction or another.

In fact, there are few reasons not to move forward with surrogate websites once a CEO is ready to test market assumptions. This is especially the case for businesses offering complex products for enterprise business customers. Within a plain-talking privacy policy to which registrants have agreed, information willingly submitted by site visitors can be studied and used, as required, to make informed decisions about product and market direction. Finally, the actual intended planned position of the business within the market can be formulated based on information gained through a successfully orchestrated surrogate phase for product marketing.

The drawbacks of using surrogates including inadvertently stimulating competitors to enter a market that they would otherwise ignore. As well, discussions, and other social features can produce negative results if left unattended and/or poorly managed. But the benefits are great, especially when one considers the exit options inherent to this approach should markets lose their allure.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2011 All Rights Reserved

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.