Research on Main Street: Find the Right Local Information to Make Strategic Decisions

Research on Main Street written by Marcy Phelps, CEO of Phelps Research, focuses on using free Internet, social media and low cost databases to access a broad spectrum of local data to support key strategic decisions. Specifically it provides an extensive directory of US city, county and state government resources; local news resources; local demographics and economic sources; and local company data and community issues. In addition to Internet sources, the book discusses how to connect with local people, such as reporters and authors, professors, chambers of commerce, economic developers, local company managers and other local industry and government experts.

This book has broad appeal as so much decision-making either is local or regional or contains a local component. How good a decision-maker feels when you have incorporated his specific local business information using his industry’s jargon backed up by local insight and demographics to support your research findings. Even a salesperson can use the information in this book to bring a local aspect to his sales presentation with better knowledge of his client’s decision-maker, which will set him apart from his competition.

What sets this book apart is the strategic approach that the Marcy develops to ensure success for information gathering:

* Think: who cares about the issue you’re researching?
* Invest in the upfront time to identify your research goals and approach, and identify the required timeframe to locate the data and do the analysis.
* Access the appropriate website resources provided in this book and drill down for the specifics to support your research goals.
* Pick sources to help you learn all sides of the issue which will keep you from being blindsided.
* Uncover experts to telephone who will verify your Internet research findings, and gain the additional insight from a live conversation.

Marcy provides the added perspective of a seasoned researcher with these tippers:

* Separate facts from opinions and know which one to use in order to support your marketing and business requests.
* Question your findings with a healthy skepticism and cross-check and verify your data.
* Benchmark your local findings with larger picture regional and/or national statistics and other research.
* Consider the age and accuracy of your sources such as demographics and articles.

Follow the advice in this book to boost your knowledge about local and regional events that may trigger change, such as a major layoff, a change in leadership, deregulation, new regulation or a technical breakthrough. Collect business information and particularly local personalities to warm up cold calls before connecting.

The sources to numerous local and state government websites, demographics and regional figures help companies make practical decisions such as:

* Which city is the best location for your company’s headquarters?
* Which neighborhood is the best location for that new restaurant and how big should it be?
* Does the community have the right demographics to sell your company’s products?
* Does the local market contain the right talent to support your company’s hiring needs?
* If you relocate employees to your new headquarters, how does the school system measure up?

Find data in often overlooked sources, such as local, regional and federal government agencies that regulate your industry or the “approved vendor list” from a state’s official website, which often includes a description of company’s business or lines of business.

If you miss an online resource or reference as you read a chapter, do not despair. Appendix A provides a chronological list and description of each reference source, including the chapter location to read more about it.

The blend of case studies and expert interviews breathe life into the dry business of information gathering and analysis to support specific local strategic business initiatives. There are numerous case study examples sprinkled throughout the book which identify the combination of resources you might tap into in order to find the information to support your local business or marketing initiative. The interviews with research experts lend a practical element as to why and how you conduct business research. Appendix B contains a set of specific business or marketing issues and lists the resources where you can find more information.

This book stands alone as the only research source I know of which focuses on how to find and use local and regional sources in the US. In short, Research on Main Street is a must read for anyone seeking the right local information to make strategic decisions.

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