10 Free Market Research Tools for Small Businesses

Market research is crucial in positioning your product,service or company.Part of creating a social media strategy is doing a little market research to figure out where your industry is consuming and sharing content so you can figure out where to have a social media presence and what types of information is worth sharing and distributing.

There are plenty of companies that you can hire for market research like CorpTech, Research Now, or Lab42 (as cheap as $500) but with the internet these days, shouldn’t some stuff just be for free? Of course! And here are some free tools for market research (in no particular order):

  1. Spoke – provides detailed information for more than 60M employees at 2.3M companies.The free service is limited to 25 searches per day.
  2. JigSaw – search company profiles by name or by industry and find contacts, news archives and basic company data.
  3. Free Economic Data – includes economic, demographic, income and labor market information.
  4. AskYourTargetMarket – free if you use your own list (database) and as low as $0.95. Give it a shot.
  5. Thomas Register – information on various companies by industry.
  6. Dun & Bradstreet’s Dun’s Market Identifiers – giving you basic company data, executive names and profiles, org status and more on 28M U.S. companies.
  7. The Internet Public Library – ask a question or search a collection of resources on everything from Education to special collections.
  8. Kauffman Research Roundup – a great source for technology indicators
  9. ZoomProspector – allows companies to quickly identify the optimal location for their start-up, relocation or expansion.
  10. AmericanFactFinder – (being updated Jan 20, 2012 to include legacy data) – is the U.S. Census Bureau’s statistical information search engine

If these tools aren’t helpful then try these tactics:

  1. A survey or ask a question on LinkedIn Answers (includes demographic data) or Quora
  2. Check the Yellow Pages to see how many businesses are listed in your line of business, then check the year before. Has it increased or decreased? If decreased, perhaps demand has gone down. Also spot check a number of them who are listed in both versions to see how many years they’ve been in business. If they’ve been listed in the YP multiple years, that’s a good sign.
  3. Research the competition and pick larger companies than yourself to see where they are posting their content. Presumably they have done or hired someone to do the market research and you can learn off of them.

Also, for a list of questions to ask yourself about your market research, I found this post useful from PowerHomeBiz.


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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.