By Rieva Lesonsky
Whether you’re planning on launching a new product or redoing your business plan to apply for a small business loan, as a small business owner you’re going to have to do your share of market research. Here are three tools to help you gather the information you need.
1. The Census Bureau conducts the official population census (the decennial census) every 10 years, but did you know the Bureau conducts many other smaller and more frequent surveys as well? On the American Factfinder section of the Census Bureau website you’ll find helpful marketing research and consumer data. You can search for market information by specific address, by city and state and find specific city demographics such as social, economic and housing characteristics. Reference maps can help you determine what boundaries the statistics refer to and you can search by topic such as people, housing, business industry and more. You’ll also find business patterns statistics by county and key population findings.
2. eMarketer.com is a great source for online marketing information and trends. All the information on the site might not be relevant to your business, but it’s smart to keep up on which trends are working and what data to ignore. Once you sign up to receive their eNewsletters get ready to receive tons of studies and the latest findings from their marketing surveys. You can also download special studies and white papers featured every month.
3. If you’re not finding the market research you’re looking for or you feel like you need help gathering the research, check out Ask Your Target Market. AYTM gives you the tools to conduct your own market surveys. You can choose from their panel of consumers to survey or supply your own list. Then write your own survey questions (up to 25 questions) and launch it! AYTM also gives you real-time updates on the responses and helps you take the data and turn it into meaningful market research. If you don’t feel you’re qualified to put the survey together, AYTM will create the survey for you.
4. Similarly, Samplify allows small business owners to access a large pool of survey respondents and helps you monitor the results. Samplify provides custom templates and researchers have 24-hour access to reports on any project activity.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports