Archives for February 2012

Finding Local Business and Market Information

Research on Main Street: Using the Web to Find Local Business and Market Information

Sooner or later you’re going to need reliable, localized, business information.

Ideally, you’d like it to be freely available and easy to find.

Until now there has been no targeted guide to this type of research.

Research on Main Street fills the gap. We now have a guide for finding business and market information at the local level that points to sources for researching people, companies, demographics, economics, and issues. Author Marcy Phelps has spoken widely on this topic and done her own fair share of local business and market research as owner of Phelps Research.

In this one-of-a-kind resource Phelps provides background, search strategies, and key sources to help readers find reliable local-level information on a budget. Phelps puts this research niche in context, coaching the reader to look at how a given geographic area relates to larger geographic areas, how it relates to nearby geographic areas, and how it relates to similar areas from other regions.

Learning this kind of strategic thinking alone justifies the cost of the book ($29.95 from Information Today). But wait. There’s more.

After a general overview of the kinds of resources valuable to local area research and a reminder of how to discern quality information, the author moves into a detailed discussion of sources and strategies for finding demographic data, economic information, people, and ways to understand the issues that come to bear on a specific geographic region. Each chapter includes strategy tips. In addition, as Mary Ellen Bates points out in the Forward, Phelps offers short case studies throughout the book that help in “understanding when I could use these resources in my day-to-day work.” Author Phelps has also called upon a number of experienced researchers to share their advice in Tips from the Pros. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that yours truly contributed one of those Tips.)

The final chapter provides guidance on when to turn to the fee based sources for information. “For local searchers, fee-based sources are often the fastest route to detailed information for small geographic areas.” Here you’ll find tips on how to pay (subscription, pay as you go, or other options), when to pay (calculating what your time is worth), and who to pay (listing key fee-based services.)

To get a sense of the valuable information offered in this 254 page book, try this one tip offered on page 26. To quickly find relevant information on local sites, try GovScan. Powered by Google, GovScan searches more than 5,000 city, town, county, and state government websites within all 50 United States. Now doesn’t that just make you wonder what the other 253 pages contain?