Contributed by W. R. (Bill) Cobb (www.targetedtacticsllc.com)
Most small businesses do not realize how much information is available to them from free sources for aiding them in market research.
1) The US Census Bureau (www.census.gov) has an incredible amount of demographic information that can be downloaded for free. I recommend you start with their quick facts files which are available for national, state, county and city areas as a good place to start.
2) Take advantage of what the listing companies have to offer, (www.dex.com, and others) They list companies in specific areas by industry or product classifications. You can get a good feel for your competition simply by using this source.
3) Trade publications are another source of good marketing info. I usually request a media kit from the trade magazine’s publisher and that provides me with a good profile of their subscribers, who are usually the industry participants and my potential market.
4) The Internet, which knows and tells all. You can search by industry, product, or specific geography and learn about who is out their and what they do. Best way to do comparisons is to compare the “about us” pages at each website and see what the significant differences.
There are additional free sources out there as well, but these four are among the best to get a macro view of what is going on in your marketplace.