Before doing any research, decide what it is you need to find out, and develop clear concise questions. For example, instead of saying "I need information to help do a marketing plan for Company X", you might break this down into the following specific questions:
- Who are Company X's primary competitors in the area served by
- How big are their stores (number of employees)?
- What are their sales per store?
- What is their market share?
- What are basic demographics for the area served by this company? (population, income levels, age distribution, ethnic breakdown, etc.)
- What is the cost of advertising in the local media for this area (newspaper, television, radio, etc.)?
As you start to locate information, you may come up with other questions. Make sure there is a reason for finding all of the information you are searching; make sure it is relevant.You might start by writing out a list of questions and stating reasons why you need this information. If you can't think of a reason why you need the information, you probably don't need it:
- I need to know what advertising costs are for the area because I will be advertising a new product here.
- I need to know what the demographics are for the area because I want to market to higher income areas.
Once you've identified your organization and have developed clear, concise questions, take a look at the organization's homepage first. Here you'll find a variety of information, depending on the organization. This may include financial information, organization mission statement/goals, organizational hierarchy, employment opportunities, directory information, product/service information, current news, and more. Once you've gleaned what you can from the homepage, then consult other sources.