Businesses arise when entrepreneurs identify wants or needs and create products or services to fill them. This means doing ongoing market research. Here are some of the free research tools that are easily accessible on the internet, and which are certain to make your market research easy, fast and fruitful.
Search Engines: Search engines index billions of web pages, enabling users to find information through keyword searches. My favourites are google.com and clusty.com.
About: Visit about.com to explore this amazing website, which offers articles by more than 750 experts on a range of subjects. It’s useful for finding information on different topics and has a handy “See What’s Hot Now” link where you can learn which questions and topics are getting the most hits.
Blogs: These are personal journals published on the Web. Blogs include personal reflections, opinions on a variety of issues, and usually include links to the owner’s favorite sites.
BoardReader: This remarkable service reads forums and message boards from more than 750,000 websites. Just click on boardreader.com and enter your search words to find information, images or videos from many sources.
eBay Keywords: Click on buy.ebay.com/index_A-1 to discover a list of the most popular keyword searches at Ebay. This tool helps identify how buyers are finding what they want or need.
E-zines: Tile.net hosts many e-zines, mailing lists and related information. EzineArticles.com is one of the largest collections of articles from more than 150,000 expert authors.
Google Trends: Housed at Google.com/trends, this service enables you to plug in key words or topics and instantly pull up charts and graphs showing broad search patterns and links to the relevant websites and articles that drive them.
Google Insights: This site at Google.com/insights/search/# enables you to search terms and topics and filter by country, region and timeframes. It produces a map showing the regional hot spots for your topic, as well as lists of related search terms.
Google Groups: At groups.google.com you can search through existing group discussion forums or easily set up your own groups for topics of your choice.
MediaFinder: This website claims to be the world’s largest database of U.S. and Canadian magazines, catalogues, newspapers, newsletters and journals. Click on mediafinder.com and use the keyword search box to locate media for topics you wish to research.
Yahoo Answers: At answers.yahoo.com you can find out what questions are being asked for a range of categories, along with answers provided by random contributors. You can also ask your own questions and provide answers to others’ questions, making this an opportunity to network and be recognized as an expert in any given area.
These tools will strengthen any market researcher’s toolchest, and they can be easily accessed from the Market Research SpringBoard. Whether you’re looking for business ideas or researching an idea you already have, the resources above are sure to get results, quickly and at little or no cost accept your time.