Yes, I’m sorry, this is another Top !0 list from one of my workshops – a full day in-house session on Business Research. This time around Marketingfile.com  made a return to the list at number 4 after a long absence, three of Alacra sites are at number 2 (nominated by participants as “All the Alacra sites”), and Twitter is at long last being considered as a serious business tool (Yay!!). It is worth noting that this group were interested in Second Life; some of their contacts and clients are involved with Second Life so it would have been useful to have a look at how it works . As usual, though,  we could not connect to SL. It appeared that the ports used by SL were blocked by the by the organisation’s network.

Here is the full list:

1. Internet Archive or Wayback machine at http://www.archive.org/.  For pages, sites and documents that have disappeared. Ideal for tracking down lost documents and seeing how organisations presented themselves on the Web in the past.

2. “All the Alacra sites”.  Not strictly accurate in that it was just three of their business web sites that attracted attention:

Alacrawiki at http://www.alacrawiki.com/. The Alacra Spotlights section is a good starting point for evaluated sites and information on industry sectors. Note that although it is a wiki only Alacra can edit these pages.

Alacrasearch at  http://www.alacra.com/alacrasearch/. A Google custom search engine that focuses on business sites selected by Alacra.

AlacraStore at http://www.alacrastore.com/.  “Search over 70 million reports on more than 550,000 public companies and private companies from over 55 premium business information publishers.” Search for free and pay as you go on your credit/debit card.  A full lost of their content providers is at http://www.alacrastore.com/search-by/publisher.

3. Advanced Search. The advanced search screens of the likes of Google and Yahoo have many options for increasing the precision of your your search: file format (e.g. xls for data and statistics, ppt for expert presentations, pdf for industry or government reports); site and domain search to limit your search to just one web site or a type of organisation (e.g. UK government, US academic); and in Google there is a numeric range search.

4. Marketingfile.com at http://www.marketingfile.com/.  A collection of lists with a bias towards UK and Ireland but there are some International, European and North American lists. The lists are divided into Business and Consumer and further categorised into sectors or type, for example Drinks Trade, Aviation & Defence, Smaller Companies. Each list can be searched by a number of criteria depending on its structure and coverage. Searching is free and data is charged for on a pay per record basis.

5. Freepint at http://www.freepint.co.uk/ Head for the discussion area, labelled as the Bar, where you can post your query and tap into the knowledge of regular ‘tipplers’

6. Trade Association Forum - http://www.taforum.org/ . A useful, searchable directory of UK trade associations.

7. Sector Skills Councils. This was not one that I mentioned in the workshop but is a resource that the organisation that I was visiting often uses. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sector_Skills_Councils) , and please don’t complain that I am citing it:

“Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are state-sponsored, employer-led organisations that cover specific economic sectors in the United Kingdom. They have four key goals:

  • to reduce skills gaps and shortages
  • to improve productivity
  • to boost the skills of their sector workforces
  • to improve learning supply”

Further information on the Councils can be found at Alliance of Sector Skills Councils,
http://www.sscalliance.org/home/home.asp.

The workshop participants commented that “some of the councils are better than others”.

8. Google, Yahoo, Live, Exalead, Ask. Let’s admit it – much of the time we head for Google as our first port of call, but it is worth running your search in the other contenders. Results are sorted in a different order and they do have different coverage and search features.

9. Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/. “Looks interesting”. “Need to try it out as a source of information”. “Could be useful as a promotion/communications tool”.

10. RBA Business Sources. http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/. Selected sources of business information organised by type e.g. statistics, share prices, company registers. Yes,  my own site, the basis of the workshop notes, and as one person commented “It is the quickest way to get to all the sites you told us about”!

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3 Comments on Top Business Research Tips

  1. [...] Tuesday, September 2, 2008 in business, resources, working it Top Business Research Tips [...]

  2. I also tried “Twitter” and found it quite helpful.

  3. Steve James says:

    I use firefox which is excellent for internet marketing research.The SEO add-on gives an enormous amount of information.Keywords,competition stats it really is great and best of all free.

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