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Everything you ever need to know about anything.

No matter how well established you are in the marketplace door, to ensure that your marketing efforts continue to meet with optimal returns, you'll need to understand as much about your targets as you can. In this article we'll explore answers to the following:

How any business today can immediately gain a wealth of information about any target market

* How to find and use free sources of information

* How to track social trends and anticipate what will be hot

* How to readily keep tabs on the competition.

Today, no business, large or small, need lack comprehensive data about the target groups it wishes to serve. A variety of business services and information data bases can pinpoint your market, household by household if that is most convenient and appropriate for your business.

Key Directories and Services Help You Aim

Whether you are a one-person business or a corporation of thousands, you can virtually gain immediate, comprehensive prospect data on any United States market conceivable, from consumers and households, to the most sophisticated technological research and development corporations.

Let's walk through a couple of the leading directories and services which for several hundred dollars up to thousands of dollars will provide you with valuable data.

US Manufacturers Directory-This handy guide published by American Business Directories lists over 200,000 manufacturers by company name, address, zip code and phone number plus employee size, sales volume, owner, manager and chief executive officer's name, and up to three Standard Industry Codes (SIC) per company. It also cross indexes manufacturers by city and state, by industry, by the number of employees, and alphabetically. For more information call (402) 593-4600.

Corporate Technology Directory-Published by CorpTech in Wellesly Hills, Mass., this volume provides the names of 25,000 companies including 14,800 emerging private companies, and also lists 7,500 key executives and 85,000 high tech products. The publication is 4,000 pages in four volumes. Information is also cross-indexed by company name, geography, technology, product and other useful criteria. Further information is available by calling (800) 333-8036.

Findex-This publication identifies more than 1,100 research reports in 12 categories including business and finance, health care, consumer durables, consumer non-durables, defense and security systems, media and publishing. Also energy, utilities and related equipment; data processing systems and electronic; construction, materials and machinery; basic industries and related equipment; retailer and consumer services; and transportation. Findex advertises that "millions of dollars worth of market research is being produced every year, but if you can't find it ... you can't benefit from it." Call (800) 227-3052.

Contacts Influential and Lead Source-two separate business entities offer essentially the same information for selected metropolitan areas throughout the US. The Contacts Influential Directory is divided into eight major sections. For example, in the Dallas, Texas area, the names of Dallas-based businesses are presented by alphabet, standard industry code number, zip code on a street-by-street basis, product, telephone number, alphabet according to SIC code, and zip code according to the street index.

A Contacts Influential Directory enables you to identify businesses within a two-block radius of your own business. It literally enables you to produce a targeted list of businesses by building, by street, or by any number of criteria. Contacts Influential offers you Cheshire labels, pressure sensitive labels, 3x5 cards, or computer printouts, magnetic tapes or computer diskettes with which to approach the marketplace. For further information call (913) 677-2240.

Lead Source works much the same way. Lead Source provides volumes on 20 major metropolitan areas in the US (areas not covered by Contacts Influential) and offers data on selected target markets in the same array of formats as Contacts Influential. For more information call (703) 370-1655.

Note: The Metropolitan areas served by Contacts Influential and Lead Source do not overlap. Thus, to take advantage of this type of service for a particular metropolitan area one needs to determine whether Contacts Influential or Lead Source provides the data you require.

The List House-supplies data on business and consumers in five formats including mailing labels, 3x5 cards, magnetic tapes, PC diskettes, and prospect lists. As with many mailing list houses, The List House provides an array of available data: 14 million businesses in the United States, 3.2 millions in Canada, 515,000 physicians and dentists, and 415,000 lawyers, for example. On the consumer side, they can provide breakouts of 4.1 million high income Americans, 78 million households, 9 million high school and college students, 300,000 new homeowners and almost any other type of list requested. These lists can then further be broken down by region, state, country, town, zip code, section of city and neighborhood. For more information call (800) 634-1949.

Key Contacts-Key Contacts maintains a US business and executive data file. Accessing this file you can gain information on the full name and title of decision makers, SIC codes, size of the company by the number of employees, location-local branch or headquarters-the department titles, gender, years in business and other valuable prospecting information.

Key Contact's Dunn and Bradstreet data also enables you also to tap into Dunn's Market Identifier's service at an affordable cost, and, like Contacts Influential and Lead Source targets specific businesses based on a variety of key criteria.

Other leading directories, primarily industrial, include:

* Million Dollar Directory

* News Front: 30,000 Leading US Corporations

* North American Register of Business and Industry

* Standard Directory of Advertisers

* Thomas Register of American Manufacturers

* Corporate 1000

* Standard and Poor's Register of Directors and Executives

* Dun's Middle Market Directory

* Directory of British Associations

Willing's Press Guide (UK, Europe)

* Hollis Press & PR Annual (Worldwide)

* EuroDirectory of PR Agencies

Researching Industry Markets Through Powerful Databases

For those serving industry, there are questions you must answer, all of which can be provided by databases. For example: "How big is the industry?" "How many firms are in this industry?" What at are the operating characteristics?" "What are the trends?" "What channels of distribution are necessary to adequately reach the market?"

Articles, abstracts, briefs and industry reports, all of which are provided by databases can give you key information on buying habits of industrial representatives and agents. Databases can also help you to determine: "At what frequency do industrial companies buy?" "How much do they buy?" "The types of delivery and service they expect?" and, "What type of quality and quality control do they expect?"

Vendors offering a wide selection of databases include BRS, Lockheed, SDC Orbit and Mead Data Central. Together these systems yield several hundred databases with which to gather information on business and industrial markets.

Tapping Social Research

Dallas-based career coach Juanell Teague suggests creating your own tracking system including habits, lifestyles, irritants, wants and desires of those you are interested in serving. There are a variety of recently published texts as well as other periodicals that will enable you to quickly and easily tap into available social research.

For example, the Louis Harris book, "Inside America," provides a wealth of information regarding the current state of the US population's habits, wants, desires and concerns. "100 Predictions for the Baby Boom Generation" by Cheryl Russell and "Tracking Tomorrow's Trends" by Andy Cassell are also valuable texts to help you understand current consumer behavior.

Many other studies by think tanks and social research organizations are identified through the Findex catalogue. For example, SRI published what is known as the Values and Lifestyles Report which charts the American consumer based on eight basic social economic consumer types offering detailed descriptions on the wants, needs and values of each group. On a monthly basis American Demographics provides in-depth, detailed articles on population trends. Their back issues are also valuable reference tools. American Demographics can be found in any library.


A key source of market research information is provided by newsletters which are published by all trade associations, government agencies, industry groups, political groups, and each major corporation. The Oxbridge Newsletter Directory lists several thousand newsletters, arranged by functional area. The National Trade and Professional Association Directory (NTPA) indicates which of the thousands of associations listed maintain a newsletter. The Newsletter Yearbook is also a valuable guide. By consulting these directories and others your local librarian may suggest, you can gain access to late-breaking news and information of concern to your business and your industry. Many newsletters today are available via database. The above cited directories are commonly held by reference librarians at municipal and school libraries.

A Wealth of Data: Free

A wealth of free data is available through municipal and college libraries. The aforementioned Magazine Index and Newspaper Index offer comprehensive article bibliographies in microfiche. If you need to research an article or information on a corporation that appeared in your local newspaper, use the library's newspaper index which abstracts newspaper articles by topic and cross references this listing by date. Your metro area may also be served by one or more area business publications. You can write to the Association of Area Business Publications, 202 Legion Drive, Annapolis, Md. 21401, for the complete list. Also the Wall Street Journal Index is available in many public libraries in major cities.

Three hard-copy indices, the Business Periodicals Index, the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature and the Readers' Guide to Scientific Literature, will allow you to scan for the latest articles in selected topic areas.

The Business Periodicals Index offers a listing by topic of all the articles in the last month, quarter, year, or several decades that appeared in such nationally known business journals as Business Week, Fortune, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, as well as numerous other business periodicals.

Among the most insightful marketing and marketing management periodicals are:
 American Demographics
 European Journal of Marketing
 Incentive Marketing
 Journal of Marketing
 Marketing & Media Decisions
 Marketing Executive's Digest
 Marketing News
 Sales & Marketing Digest
 Sales and Marketing Management

Juanell Teague suggests calling the reference department of your local library and asking if they have an on-line database search service. Many larger libraries have access to the Dow Jones News Retrieval Service which indexes such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Barron's and The Washington Post.

Some libraries have access to the Datatimes Vendor System which picks up various regional newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, St. Petersburg Times, San Diego Union, Oklahoman, and many more. In addition, your librarian may be able to suggest other databases that index even more news publications.

The fee your library charges for this service will depend on the length of time its computer is connected to the database. There is usually a per-minute connect fee and there may be a per-reference print charge.

Reading What the Niche Reads, and Reading about Them

One of the easiest ways to keep abreast of the changes, trends, and other factors affecting a target group is to identify the major publications serving the niche-then, read what the niche-readers read.

Identifying the publication read by any target group can be done by using the directories presented below. They collectively list over 10,000 publications in every field of endeavor, and enable you to identify 90 percent or more of all publications serving a group: Writer's Market, Working Press of the Nation, Bacon's Publicity Checker, and Standard Periodicals Index.

Once you identify and obtain several publications, get the most from them:

Table of contents-In addition to normal feature articles, look for the following: book reports, trend watch, columns, reader surveys, letters to the editor or opinion pieces, people in the news, new products and services, and classified advertising. Classified ads are often a good indicator as to the needs of the readership.

Readership demographics-All publications maintain information on their readership, including average age, income, sex, job title and other valuable data. Write to the advertising department and ask for a copy of the advertising-rate card and readership demographics. The advertising-rate card, available on request, describes the costs and procedures for placing a single or continuous ad within the publication. You can also use Standard Rate and Data, which contains information on all major US publications and a directory of advertising-rate cards.

Editorial guidelines-Most editors maintain a published set of editorial and author's guidelines. These are also available on request. These guidelines define the nature and scope of the material the editor is seeking to interest his/her readers.

Special issues-Many publications periodically offer a special issue that highlights developments and trends in the industry. For example, Inc. produces a special issue entitled "The Inc. 100" that lists and describes the fastest growing small businesses in the United States. Other publications such as Forbes, Fortune, Business Week and Venture are noted for their special issues. The editorial calendar outlines the topics and issues for the following year. The calendar will pinpoint when a special issue will be published. Here are but 11 publications that offer special issues:
 Fortune: The 500 Largest US
Industrial Corporations
 Inc.: The Inc. 100
 Business Week R&D Scoreboard
 Chain Store Age-General Merchandise:
Top 100 Chains
 Dun's Review: Best Managed
 Advertising Age: 100 Leading
National Advertisers
 Black Enterprise: The Top 100
Black Enterprises
 Dun's Review: Top Corporate
 Forbes: Annual Directory Issue
 Journal of Commerce: various
 Financial World: America's Top
Growth Companies

Subscriber mailing lists-Most publications have subscriber mailing lists for sale. Although some publications sell their entire list of subscribers (representing overkill to you if you only want subscribers in a particular locality), others offer a more targeted list. In addition, many publications sell their subscriber lists to the direct-mail catalogue houses who often can offer them to you at a lower cost than the publisher because of high-volume.

Research through Association Resources

Association directories can be found in any library and offer the names, addresses, and phone numbers of trade and professional associations. Gale's Encyclopedia of Associations and the National Trade and Professional Association Directory collectively offer 12,000 association listings. Associations themselves provide trend information, surveys, publications, monthly newsletters and magazines, and in many cases directories of their memberships.

A Gold Mine of Government Data

Through the US Bureau of the Census of the Department of Commerce, you can obtain sales and revenue data on virtually any industry by state, county and standard metropolitan statistical area, and general demographic data on populations down to the block level.

Though the Bureau of the Census is primarily known for its population reports, a census of business is taken on the second and seventh year of each decade and is available 18 months later.

Census information is available on more than 800 of the approximately 1,000 industries, businesses and products classified according to the standard industry code system. Expense and production type information is assembled for about 1,000 material categories, and quantity and value data for 16,000 product classifications. Separate censuses are conducted for manufacturers, mineral industries, construction industries, retail trade, wholesale trade and service industries.

Computer file tapes can be obtained directly from the Bureau of the Census. The Bureau of the Census also produces many special industry reports and offers several ways to access their files. To obtain a list of the bureau's publications write to: Bureau of the Census, Washington, DC 20233.

The Department of Commerce annually publishes the US Industrial Outlook, which traces the growth of 200 industries and provides five-year forecasts for each industry. Write to:
US Industrial Outlook
 Bureau of Economic Analysis
 Department of Commerce
 Washington, DC 20230

The US Statistical Abstract is a useful compilation of data and reports and contains over 1,000 charts from the Department of Commerce, the Department of Labor, the Department of Transportation, the Small Business Administration, and other federal agencies. Much of the research information you may be seeking can be found in this one volume. The Abstract and many other major publications produced by the federal government are on sale at the US Government Printing Office. The federal government is always conducting studies on industries, on new technology and on social trends.


If you've been wondering why there are always two or three babies tossing everything including their cookies in the restaurants you visit lately, here's the explanation. The US baby boomers are begetting a new batch of spoon. bangers at a rate not equalled since their parents caused the hump in the population curve in the 50s ... about 4 million births a year. There's no letup for the near term since demographers look for a peak of 4.1 million births in the next year or two, then a gradual decline toward the year 2000.


Creating customized editions of magazines is clearly a trend. The nineties promise to be an era of narroweasting, or better targeting of message to audience.

People magazine became an early leader by printing each subscriber's name on an ad in a January issue. The ad took the form of a personal invitation from the reader's local Isuzu dealer. "American Isuzu and the Time Inc. Magazine Company invite you to enter a new age of magazine advertising," read the copy.
COPYRIGHT 1990 International Association of Business Communicators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:International Association of Business Communicators: 1970 - 1990: Section 3: An Era Ended; includes related articles on new-agers, yuppies, baby boomers; information sources
Author:Davidson, Jeffery P.
Publication:Communication World
Date:May 1, 1990
Previous Article:Trying to understand the daddy of data angst: Richard Saul Wurman.
Next Article:CEOs in the slammer or what to do while your boss does time.

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