Disclaimer here: my dear friend and colleague Marcy Phelps has written a book that I’m going to shamelessly recommend for everyone who either does – or would like to do – business research. The book is Research on Main Street: Using the Web to Find Local Business and Market Information (CyberAge Books), and it’s for all of us who end up needing to find information at the local level.
The book leads off with a strategy session – how to approach searching for local/regional information when those information resources may be inconsistent, difficult to find, and/or challenging to evaluate as to credibility. It then devotes several chapters to topic-specific research, i.e., local demographics, economics, companies, people, and issues. The concluding chapter addresses fee-based sources for local business information: what they are, and when they’re worth paying for.
Interspersed within the chapters are tips from other business-research pros, and extra search tips wrap up each chapter. In addition, two appendixes – one identifying and annotating key chapter resources and the other providing quickie resource answers to questions like how to find local vendors, how to find customer reviews of competitors’ business, etc. – conclude the guide.
So far I’ve used this book to identify ten potential clients I’m going to reach out to in Colorado, provided competitive analyses for two existing clients for communities in California and Ohio, and used the “Looking for Locals” chapter to identify potential panelists for an upcoming nonprofit event I’m part of. It’s quickly become a go-to resource that lets me find and deliver the information clients (and I) need reliably and cost-effectively.
Ya done good, Marcy.