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Market Research the Easy (FREE!) Way

Market ResearchMarket research is a key element to developing good customer profiles and understanding your target markets. It’s also a good thing to do before developing your full length Value Proposition, or really, before doing almost anything at all: buying advertising, launching a new product, opening a new location, etc.

Market research firms like Nielsen, J.D. Power and the NPD Group can command considerable fees for their services when they custom tailor them for individual clients. But happily, their websites often contain great resources that may provide useful information for your market research needs.

There are many companies that offer free reports to download and you may be able to access more in-depth reports if your company has a subscription to a service, through your local public library or even through your current school or alma mater. Almost all substantial libraries, and most college and university libraries, have online research platforms that allow their members, alumnae or subscribers access to great information which might otherwise cost a small fortune.

For example, as a graduate of the business school at Post University, I have access to several of my favorite sources of market and industry specific information, all of which I use frequently:

  1. Ibis World
  2. LexisNexis
  3. Marketline
  4. Hoovers

Here is my short list of resources that you can find online. You can click on the links to find out more and best of all, these are all free!

  1. U.S. Census

All sorts of great info on demographics, population, employment, economic info, family, living situation, home values, personal income, geography and so much more. It can be a little dense and it was not built to be particularly user friendly so you might try:

  1. American Fact Finder

This site makes it a little more user friendly to search the gigantic U.S. Census site by using search terms that might make more sense to you.

  1. Think With Google: Marketer’s Almanac

Information on how people browse sites and make buying decisions. Good info on seasonal and event based behavior.

  1. Nielsen: My Best Segments

Geographic based info on demographics, lifestyle, trends and competitors. Ideal for pre-campaign launch research.

  1. Ubersuggest

Nice easy tool for thinking about keywords that relate to your target market. You can accomplish basically the same thing with a Google AdWords account using the keyword suggestion tool, but with this service, no account is necessary and it pretty much does just one thing.

  1. Pew Research Center

Great info from one of the preeminent research organizations in the country. Includes info about social media usage. Great charts and visual aids as well.

  1. Your local public library!

I know…sounds old fashioned doesn’t it? But I’m not talking about looking through the stacks or thumbing through the card catalogue (do they still even have that?). I’m talking about getting online and seeing what resources the library offers for business research.

Of course, there are hundreds of other options that are specific to your industry, market segments, geography and the like. There are resources that focus on B2B, B2C, service businesses professionals like doctors, lawyers and accountants, consumer packaged goods, non-profits…it’s pretty endless. In a nutshell, if the information exists at all, it’s out there online somewhere and very likely it is available for free.

Want to learn more? Check out Holistic Marketing in the Digital Age

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