Marketing and Research
You may have the best business idea in the world, but unless you understand your market and develop an appropriate marketing plan, your product will languish on the shelf.
It helps to understand the four “Ps” of marketing:
• Product – What is the product and what position in the market does or will it hold? How will you package it? What are its features and benefits?
• Price – Quite simply, you must decide how much you will charge for your product. Factors that must be considered include your costs, what your customers will pay, what your competition charges, and the image you want to convey.
• Place – Place is not merely physical location. It also includes your position in the market as well as how you distribute and place your product.
• Promotion – How will you let your customers know your product exists? What media will you use to promote your product?
- Biz Stats
Compare your company performance to others in the same industry.
- Hoover’s Industry Snapshots
Hoover’s gives overviews of U.S. company, industry, and market intelligence.
Allows you to profile U.S. markets by SIC code.
- Thomas Register of Manufacturers
One of the most popular manufacturers directories for the U.S. Resource for industrial information. Search by company name for contact info, product lines & brands. Or, search by product/service to gather list of companies that make or supply that product. Requires free registration.
- Thomas Regional divides 480,000 manufacturers into regions and product categories.
- A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies
- FedWorld Home Page
This page contains links to many federal government resources, and for specific research it can prove to be helpful. It is includes a broad overview of federal government sites but business sites are among them.
- North American Industry Classification System
- SEC Info
Quick and easy access to the very latest filings, organized by type/ topic (Institutional Ownership, M&A, Insider Trading, SIC, etc). Search by Name, Industry, Business, SIC Code, Area Code, Topic, ZIP, CIK, Accession Number, File Number, Date.
- Small Business Resource Magazine
A guide to starting and expanding your business. Every guide is published with information and resource listings specific to your state. You will find information on local regulations, government loans, training and assistance, and business advocacy.
- Statistical Abstract of the U.S.
- U.S. Census Bureau
All types of statistical information available.
- U.S. Small Business Administration
U.S. Small Business Administration in Spanish En Español – Agencia Federal para el Desarrollo de la Pequeña Empresa
SBA: Starting a Business
SBA: Financing a Business
SBA: Managing a Business
SBA: Business Opportunities
SBA: Disaster Recovery
The Franchise Registry, Sponsored by the Small Business Administration
SBA: Government Contracting & Business Development
SBA: Minority Business 8(a) Program
SBA: Surety Bond Program
SBA: Online Women’s Business Center
SBA: Women In Business
SBA: General Contracting SBA site about government contracting for small business.
SBA: Subcontracting Network Prime contractors use SUB-Net to post subcontracting opportunities. These may or may not be reserved for small business, and they may include either solicitations or other notices — for example, notices of sources sought for teaming partners and subcontractors on future contracts.
SBA: Subcontracting Opportunities Directory SBA obtains the names and addresses for this listing from subcontracting plans that are submitted to the Government when a large business receives a Federal contract over $500,000 (over $1 million in construction).
- Various information on the 50 states
Various information on the 50 states such as population, ethnicity ratios, retail sales, minority owned firms, land, and much more
- Washington State Agency Listing
- Washington State City Government Information
- Washington State County Government list
- Welcome to the State of Washington.
Get information on living in Washington, visiting and recreation, doing business, employment, government and education.
Offers Business & Industry, Tablebase and other business databases.
- All you Can Read
A directory of magazines and newspapers.
- American Demographics
A deep archive of their great demographic articles.
- American Fact Finder
Excellent, user-friendly source for demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
- American Fact Finder
Ongoing data collected by the Census Bureau.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
Includes wage and unemployment rates.
- Business Statistics
Instant access to useful financial ratios, business statistics & benchmarks, effective and understandable online analysis of businesses & industries.
- Community of Science
Databases on experts, research, and funding opportunities.
- Demographic Profile Generator
Produces a nice report for tracts, block groups, zips and cities.
- EASI Demographics
Free reports based on the 2000 Census.
Free demographic market analysis reports
- Google Trends
Compare interest in your favorite topics (searches). Enter up to five topics and see how often they’ve been searched for on Google over time.
Information from IBISWorld, a leader in gathering and applying business data to help your higher-level business planning.
- Idea Cafe
Idea Cafe offers a mix of small business profiles, how-to articles and other news-you-can-use features.
Web versions of IAC’s solid business databases.
- Melissa Data
Free address information for businesses and individuals.
Statistics from many federal departments.
- Statistical Abstract of the U.S.
An abridged version of the popular compilation of statistics
- The Entrepreneur’s Reference Guide to Small Business Information
How do I determine what my market is or if there is a market for my product?
Research, research and more research! Research the needs of customers, longevity of product, competitors, intellectual property issues, customer base, etc. You will also need to learn as much as possible about your industry.
In addition to the Internet, the public library or local college library is a great resource. You can also learn from other business owners, professional organizations, or by taking classes or seminars. Your local SBDC can offer counseling, classes, referrals and access to primary and secondary research.
How do I determine who are my customers?
Developing a customer profile is critical to the success of a business. Is your customer the end user, the conduit, the distributor? Is your customer an individual or another business? Age, gender, location, education, income level and other demographics of the customer base determine your target market. Psychographics, which include needs, values and interests, are also important components.
Market information can be gathered through census data and community information available through local economic development organizations.
How do I compare to my competition?
Every business has competition, whether it is direct (head-to-head) or indirect (similar product or service, but different target market or business category. Identifying your competition and understanding how you compare is extremely valuable. You need to evaluate your competitors and understand their strengths and weaknesses. It may be helpful to develop a matrix that includes items such as product, customer, sales, price, place, etc., and see how you stack up.
What should I know about my trade area?
How important are location and customer access to your business? How about shipping and freight access? If physical access to your business is critical to your success, you should evaluate how customers access the business. Do they come by foot, by personal vehicle, by public transportation? What brings new customers to your business? Traffic studies for your location may be useful. Your city or county engineer should be able to help.
Understanding the economic characteristics of your location are important as well. What drives the area and how will you fit in?
- American Marketing Association Learn about marketing trends and tools from the experts.
- Duct Tape Marketing Small business marketing ideas and strategies.
- Marketing Plans Allows you to browse sample marketing plans at no charge.
- North American Industry Classification System(NAICS) and Standard Industrial Classification(SIC)
- Small Business Marketing Guide Introduction to the concepts and strategies used by large firms, and how to adapt them to small businesses.
- Tools for Online Success Google and the Small Business Administration have partnered to educate local businesses about how to succeed online. Each video describes how a small business owner successfully uses the internet to grow its business. It’s important to be where your customers are…online!