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Showing posts with label Market Research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Market Research. Show all posts

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Zip Code Demographics Based on US Census Data

Developing a marketing plan for a business is much easier when you have access to quality market research data. But not all start up businesses can afford to have primary market research done specifically for them. The US Census Bureau has plenty of information available (paid for by the US taxpayers) but it can be tedious to dig through their web site and ferret out exactly what you need.

ZIPskinny is a new web site that takes US Census data and organizes it by the zip codes that you specify. Demographic information is summarized conveniently as shown below.



In addition, key demographic information is displayed in colorful charts for easy visual interpretation. And you can easily compare the demographic data for up to 20 zip codes at one time.



The product is currently in beta but seems to work quite well. There are disclaimers on the site explaining the limitations of the data:

"Additionally, we wish to point out that there are certain important limitations to the data presented here. Because many of the measurements are based on sample data, certain results may be skewed in some cases, especially when the ZIP code area in question represents a very small sample. Please bear in mind that ZIP codes are not uniform population units. They were invented for mail delivery, not population comparisons."

But some data is always better than no data! So this can be an excellent starting point for developing your business marketing plan.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Reliable Market Research - Ask the Right Questions



Market research is invaluable in starting a small business. But when you can't find published sources of the research you need, you will probably have to engage a market research firm to conduct primary research. When interviewing market research companies, it is a good idea to ask the following questions:

1) Have you worked with businesses like mine before? Market research firms have many different clients but they often specialize in specific industries or client size. Check their list of references for other companies in your industry that are about your size. Don't be afraid to ask for a nondisclosure agreement if the firm has worked for your competitors in the past.

2) What methodology will you use for the research and why will that work for reaching my target market? Online surveys, phone interviews and face-to-face research are the three most popular methods. Online surveys, while cheapest, are usually a good choice when collecting very simple information (demographics, shopping patterns, income level). If your business involves a new product, service or process, face-to-face or phone interviews are a better choice as more in-depth follow-up questions (tailored to the interviewee's responses) can be used.

3) Who owns the research after it is collected? Usually, the person paying owns the research, but make sure to get this in writing before starting.

4) How often will I receive progress reports? You want to ensure the firm is progressing towards the end goal and obtaining useful results. If they balk at this question, look for another firm!

5) Are general surveys being conducted for the research I'm seeking? Often firms perform surveys on behalf of a number of clients at the same time who are seeking answers to similar questions. Participating in one of these surveys can be a great way to save money.

6) Will the respondents be people who have taken a lot of surveys previously? Ideally, you want people completing your surveys who are not "professional survey takers". After taking numerous surveys, many people become adept at providing answers they think the company conducting the survey wants to hear.

Don't forget to call some of the clients who have used the firm before to get feedback on their experience. By doing your homework up front and asking the right questions, you should land with a quality research firm who will produce the quality market research that you need.

Related Posts:
Performing a SWOT Analysis for Small Business
Free Business Plan Templates

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