You can't hit a target that you can't even "see," obviously. Many online marketers don't seem to think it is important to do adequate market research and planning before going after a specific niche within that market. That is all too common and serious a mistake in my mind. For those of you who do the work, what tools (including free and paid software, sites, etc.) are your favorites?

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pablocortina Premium
I think Steven covered it pretty well. Thank you for the post
StevenEsser Premium
I tend to check the following:
- Google Search
+ to check out opponents
+ to check out products within niche
+ to check out reviews (if required)

- Google Trends
+ see different related keywords in the niche for trends per country or part of the world

- Affiliate Programs, in example amazon products
- Jaaxy
+ to checkout opponents on keywords
+ to checkout alphabet functionality to figure out keyword groups to work on

- SWOT analyse
- defining my mission, vision, some P's of marketing, elevator pitch where applicable.

That's at least from the top of my hat as they say, but there are perhaps other tools that can be of use here. Always like to learn more!