Researching an Industry or Specific Company- Part 2
For items not available on-line, library call numbers are provided for the libraries we normally use. Search your library's catalog
using the title and author information we provide to find your library's call numbers. Note, many library catalogs are now online.
OSU# = Oklahoma State Univ. Main Library (Edmond Low Library) call numbers
OU# = University of Oklahoma Main Library (Bizzell Library) call numbers
Oklahoma Department of Libraries allows one stop search of major OK libraries
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- Find Information About Specific Companies in the Industry
- Tools to identify firms in a specific industry and their location
- State manufacturing directories
- MNI (Manufacturer's News, Inc.) is a source for state manufacturing directories.
(Tulsa Public Library has a 50 state set on Microfiche)
- MANUFACTURING & Distribution USA 2000
OSU# 338.4767097 M294 (2nd Floor Reference Area)
Similar directories also exist for Service Industries and the Transportation Industry
Note: this reference book is available from our bookstore.
- International Directory of Company Histories. (30 plus volume set by Gale Group) OSU# 338.7409 I61
- Encyclopedia of Company Histories access to Gale's
great histories via Answers.com - search
for the major companies in the industry to develop an industry history
- Corporate Affiliations Lexis Nexis - provides some free info on who owns
who, with more data for a fee
- Amazon's new Search Inside feature allows searching
text inside of a zillion books for a company's name. Then go find the book locally or purchase a copy if the reference looks
- Mailing Lists
Many firms supply mailing lists for hundreds of industries. Most are developed by SIC code classifications. Some firms
specialize in supplying lists for a specific industry. Many supply data on CDroms, mail labels, online, and in other
formats in addition to traditional mail labels. Trade organizations (see trade organization section) and trade magazines
also often offer mailing lists. Lists of customers of specific companies or products are sometimes available (usually from
warranty registration data)
- If you need very basic information (true company name, location, address) try:
- Online phone indexes - see our RBBI Tools Page
- Most Libraries have CD-ROM Phone Indexes
- Oklahoma Manufacturers Directory is available on the ORIGINS database
- State Manufacturer Directories (Tulsa Public Library has a 50 state set on Microfiche)
- Some web sites are offering some brief company profiles. Many of them are predominately investment oriented.
- If the stock is publicly traded identify the stock symbol at Quote.Com
- Franchises - some companies are or are in industries that are heavily franchised (fast food, home repair, etc).
The links below are especially helpful with franchised industries.
- FRANDATA supplies data on franchises (fee based, but identifies
franchises by industry for free)
- American Franchisee Association info on franchises
- International Franchise Organization franchise info
- Thomas Net (formerly Thomas Register)
After countless years of being the "big green books", they have moved to an only presence and continue to supply
manufacturer and product information.
- IQS Directory sort of an abbreviated Thomas Register for industrial
products that ALSO contains technical, explanatory information.
- Compact Disclosure database contains public filings by companies and is available at many public libraries.
- SEC EDGAR provides SEC (Security Exchange Commission) Filings for many
large public firms.
- Dun and Bradstreet credit reports can be requested on companies through our financial department. They
can also be requested through
Dun and Bradstreet.
- Experian (the old TRW system) is a similar credit reporting system
to Dun and Bradstreet.
- Identify specific individuals / executives at the Company and their concerns / driving factors.
- Assemble a list of the officers and members of the board of directors of the company. You probably have
already acquired this information in your review of Disclosures, SEC, Dun & Bradstreet, other company profiles
or the annual corporate report. If you have difficulties finding officers of smaller companies, try the state
corporation commission. In addition to identifying the individuals, see if you can determine how long the major
executives have been in office, their age, and their expected term of office. Also see if they are known
for any special management techniques (re-engineering, major layoffs, cut throat competition, growth by
acquisition, downsizing, etc.) This information will usually turn up in news clips and articles about the
company or companies the execs worked for in the past. If the leaders are long term execs of the same company
in a slow moving industry the inference is for more of the same in terms of management techniques and product
introductions. If a new C.E.O. with very dynamic background has just been hired and the industry is in
turmoil, a radical future might be anticipated.
- R.W. Stearns Org Charts supply current organization
charts for competitors, etc
- ZoomInfo / formerly Eliyon provides a great database of employees
by company (past and present) from data supplied by individuals and other sources. You should sign up for the
business version when using it for non personal research. Many list their positions with the company.
- What is the compensation plan for the C.E.O. of the board of directors. Do they own significant amounts
of company stock? These questions are usually answered in the annual report. The C.E.O.'s compensation
package, age, and stock position may help predict his/her actions in certain situations.
- Does the board take an active part in management of the company? What kind of a relationship do they have
with the C.E.O.? What percentage of the board members are insiders (work for the company)? Is the board composed
of high quality people that can give proper guidance to the company? How many boards does each board member
serve on? Are they spread to thin to be of value to this company? The annual report plus news clips on the
company will usually answer these questions.
- Are there other individuals that significantly impact the operations of the company? Sometimes a single
inventor may be responsible for a company's new products (check the patents), a great financial mind might be
calling the investments for a brokerage house, a prize winning architect may be drawing business to the
company. Would the company be significantly impacted by the death or departure of a few key individuals?
- What is the status of the work force? Age? Well trained? Union/ non-union? Major labor contract problems?
Availability of more workers? Use of teaming and cross training? Employee turnover? Employee satisfaction?
Many of these items can be answered from an annual report, others may require visiting with the company.
Employee satisfaction is an important but tough variable. It might be inferred from employee turnover rates,
number of employees working there for a long time, human resources dept that provides training and the
latest programs, good pay relative to other similar companies, low warranty levels, no recent or anticipated
layoffs, etc. But, it is difficult for an outsider without access to the company to make a real determination.
- Company employee newsletters are great tools for learning more about the culture of a company,
identifying major executives, and identifying the current concerns of the company. Most sizeable companies
print one. You may be able to find them in a local library. It is often a task just to find the name of
the newsletter. Once you have that, the hunt is on. If you can physically visit the company, they can
often be browsed in their lobby / waiting room.
- Review social media posts left by major executives at places like Facebook and LinkedIn
- Benchmark the company or specific activities within the company to other similar companies or similar
activities in other non-related companies.
- Industry Week manufacturing industry benchmarking resources.
- American Productivity and Quality Center
- Economic Ratios of Similar Businesses
Note: In addition to using these figures to compare businesses, you can also use them to estimate figures
you cannot obtain. If you know several variables about a business and they are in line with the norms
for its industry and size, you can use the ratios to estimate the unknown variables.
- Check the Advertising Industry Literature for coverage of the business, especially for major consumer
products companies. Some portals for that industry are:
- Advertising Age
- AdLand.com database of 30,000 commercials, also covers advertising
SRDS provides directories of magazines and other media accepting advertising by
interest. They also provide advertising costs in those media.
- Look for on-line information about the company:
- Hoovers Business Library Info
Offer free "company capsules" and provide "company profiles" for a fee. They also have links to major corporate websites.
- Pathfinder Magazines Search allows searching Hoover Business Reports free
via Money Magazine. Just use the search button.
- PR NEWSWIRE has recent company press releases.
- Use search engines to determine in the company has its
own web site or if other information is available.
- See if they are hiring anybody by checking these job search sites:
- Many companies have been written up in Case Studies in strategic marketing books or journals. Those
studies can be quite useful. Look for cases on the company you are looking for, their competitors, and
- Colis the European Case Study Clearinghouse (ECCH)
offers a search engine that also searches several other case databases.
- Harvard Business School Case Studies abstracts
and details on how to order the full case are provided.
- CasePlace about 400 cases on social and environmental issues.
- Darden has over 1500 cases.
- The Academic Case Study Workshop in the UK offers case studies on several major US corporations.
It was at:
www.acsw1.f9.co.uk but seems lost right now. Some of these sites come and go.
- Melbourne Business School Case Study Services provides
several cases and links to some other collections of case studies.
- Small Business School a PBS Television show has profiled hundreds
of small businesses.
- Sanborn Maps over 600,000 digitized building maps of major cities and towns from 1867-1970. They were
used primarily by fired insurance companies. Access is difficult. These include actual historical maps of the interior of company buildings.
- Some help in learning about Oklahoma Businesses is available the state web site Oklahoma
State Government Web Site
- Some Oklahoma Business Data is available on-line in the ORIGINS Database
- Search the periodicals index, newspaper index, and ABII using the OSU Pete system.
- Search the Business Dateline CD-ROM index at OSU Library.
- Search Ingenta Connect (the old CARL system) Scientific Periodical Index on the web
if the company has scientific or engineering ties.
- The High Beam Research is another excellent resource for information about
companies in the news. It requires a subscription
- Use the annual corporate reports gathered in the "Seek General Industry Information" section.
- Use the Special Media section in the "Seek General Industry Information" section
to search for special news coverage sources.
- Use the consumer and trade magazine search information gathered in the "Identify and Search the Industry's
Trade & Consumer Magazines" section.
- Examine and Test Products or Services Offered by the Company
Use the methods on our How to Learn More About a Company by Examining its Products page.
- Much can be learned from a company's internet presence
- Private Companies
Researching privately owned companies presents additional challenges. Annual reports, stock reports, independent
reports for investors and many other sources available for public firms do not exist for private companies. Researchers
must increasingly rely on news reports, coverage in local media, trade magazines and very thorough application of the
normal tools of the trade. A few tools that are sometimes especially helpful with private companies are:
- Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database of information on government
- Wards Business Directory of U.S. Private and Public and Companies. Printed by Gale Group.
- International Directory of Company Histories. (30 plus volume set) OSU# 338.7409 I61
- D&B Small Business Solutions company reports
- Use the information gathered in this section to get a good current "picture" of the company and also to
write a brief history of the company listing its major events, leaders, acquisitions, layoffs, products, new
product introductions, and any anticipated major future events (C.E.O. retirement, expiring major patents, etc.)
- If you are using this outline only to learn about a specific company, you can take the industries the
company is in and use the some of the other sections of the outline to develop a wider picture of where the
company operates. Select the sections you think will be most relevant and be sure to use the
Seek General Industry Information and Define the
Type of Competition in the Industry sections.
- Market Data on Specific Brands or Models
Specific brand data may be available in trade publications, market research reports or from other sources
referenced earlier. Many consumer products are tracked by Point of Sale data which is often aggregated and compiled by
third party sources. This may be the only access to brand data for some products.
- Point of Sale information providers include:
- Product and Service Reviews
You can learn a great deal about a company by examining and testing its products Additionally, product reviews
of competitive products may give insight into upcoming moves by the company being studied.
- Use the methods on our How Learn More About a Company by Examining its Products page.
- Breadth & Depth of Product Line. Are they a one product company or do they have many different product Lines?
Is each product available in several sizes and variations? How does their Breadth & Depth compare to their competitors?
- Vertical Integration? Do they own suppliers of their major raw materials? Do they own their distribution
chain? How does their level of vertical integration compare to their competitors?
- Define the Type of Competition in the Industry
- During the "Seek General Industry Information" and the "Find Information About Specific Companies in the
Industry" steps you should have developed a list of industry competitors and have some concepts of their market
shares. You can now use that information to Define the Type of Competition in the Industry by classifying it
as one of the types below.
The Census of Manufacturers provides information
about the concentration of certain industries (what percentage of the total industry sales are due to the
largest 5,10,25,50 companies).
Only one firm selling a particular product. Usually the result of patent, trade secret, or government protection.
Examples are newly developed and patented drugs, coca-cola, and local utility companies.
A few firms, generally large, comprise most of the industry's sales. They try to get consumers to perceive
their brand as distinctive. The market is usually large and broken into segments. Examples are the auto industry,
breakfast cereals, cigarettes, and outboard engines.
- MONOPOLISTIC COMPETITION
Several firm, each trying to offer a unique marketing mix. Firms try to obtain advantage through a mix of marketing
variables. Examples are Service Stations, Beauty Salons, and Shoe Retailers.
- PURE COMPETITION
Many firms, all selling identical products. Examples are commodities such as wheat and soybeans.
"Concentration Ratios" indicate what percentage of the total business in a four digit SIC code is being
done by the largest firms in the industry. The Manufacturing Census report is called "Concentration Ratios
in Manufacturing" and is numbered MC(yr)-S-6 (where yr is last two digits of the census year). It indicates
the percentage of business done by the top 4, 8,20, and 50 companies in each four digit SIC code industry.
Similarly the Retail Census has a report called 1997 Establishment & Firm Size Subject Series #RC97-S-1.
This report provides information on the size of the companies, sales statistics, employment size, multi-unit
info, payroll, and concentration of the largest firms.
As you examine this data you need to remember it is dated and the situation may have changed since then.
Anyway, concentration data provides an interesting view of the industry.
The type of competition and the current and anticipated future growth rates of an industry are major factors
in determining the approaches its companies take to new products, marketing, expansion, relocation, and other
matters. It also determines their potential market share (and thus their potential size if the total
industry is defined).
- Describe the overall industry as currently growing, stable, or shrinking.
- Describe the future prospects for the overall industry as growing, stable or shrinking.
- Look at the product line of the competitors in the industry (found in annual reports, marketing
literature, advertisements). How do the competitors vary in terms of depth (different models or sizes
of a product) and breadth (different products).
- How do the various competitors distribute their products (distributors, direct sales, mail order,
online sales). Do they all use the same distribution channels, does one company employ channels not
used by others?
- How do the companies in the industry try to differentiate themselves from their competitors (features,
distribution, service, added value, resale value, durability, high performance, low initial cost, easy
availability, prestige, identify stars or professionals with their product, affiliate with sports teams
or events, etc) ?
- Examine the Geography of the Industry
- Are they a local player, regional player, national player, international company? Are they trying to
move to the next rung?
- Where are their major competitors? Is their a cluster of major competitors here or somewhere else? Is
their an element that limits the possible locations of the industry?
- What is the geographical distribution of their wholesalers, dealers, end users? Does it look like it might
change in the future?
- Where are their suppliers and raw materials? How far away are they? Are they that far from their competitors?
- On a micro scale, note the amount of space they have, parking space, easy freeway access, rail access,
waterway access, availability of (skilled / unskilled) employees, availability of utilities, local environmental
- Manufacturing & Distribution USA 2000. Older copies are titled, Manufacturing USA.
OSU# 338.4767097 M294 2000 (2nd Floor Reference Area)
Lists many of the top companies in manufacturing industries and provides their location.
Note: this reference book is available from our bookstore.
- Expansion Management focus on business relocation information.
- Plant Sites & Parks magazine published Reeds / Cahner's was last published in 2004
- Google Maps Mania links to google maps of data
- GEOIDE Canadian geographical data (GPS, etc) center of excellence -
they try to promote the concept of geographical insights into market research
- Woophy ground level mapping photos (images via a map)
- Google Earth great tool for looking at company sites and
- Flickr tags tens of thousands of photos by location
- GeoData.gov on stop shop for United States GIS data,
includes a viewer
- Tatuk GIS Editor we have been very happy with this
program full GIS codes data overlays and mapping.
- Other resources and methods include:
- Mailing Lists identify companies in specific industries
- Many cities now have cad maps (for utilities and services)
- Local phone books
- OSU Library Map Room
- Aerial Photos
- Satellite Photos
- SELECT PHONE Tiger Software can map industries by SIC codes
- Univ. of Texas Electronic Maps
- Tiger Map Service (US Government Maps) Allows entry of city name or
zip and produces a map. Census data also available.
- DeLorme we have had good success with their topographical and mapping software.
- A road atlas and traditional folding road maps can often be helpful in understanding the geography of a company or industry.
- Search the History of the Industry
A few sites are suggested below. The type of industry and its age will greatly determine the approach.
- Google Trends identifies major news events for specific industries and
companies over the last couple years. Google Trends also shows relative search frequency over time, great for
identifying spikes in interest in the name of a specific company (usually indicates major news).
- Internet Archive (previously Alexa) allows viewing old sites no longer on the
web and earlier versions of current sites.
- U.S. and International News Paper Archives on
the Web maintained by the Special Libraries Association - much is free.
- Vanderbilt TV News Archive huge archive of TV news reports
- Encyclopedia of Company Histories access
to Gale's great histories via Answers.com - search for the major companies in the industry to develop an industry history
- NewsPaperArchive.com fee based service
- Chronicling America historical newspaper access via Library of Congress
- American Memory search Library of Congress site for US historical documents and photos
- History Guide links to major history sites, excellent, part of
network gateway series in Europe
- Archive Grid historical archives, family histories, etc
- American Philosophical Society Association Library history of science, technology, medicine
- Locally you can search many historical news papers using Ancestry (online genealogy database) at the
Stillwater Public Library. They can also be searched from
- Cindi's List maintains a very extensive list of both U.S. and International
historical news paper tools.
- PERSI (Periodical Source Index) is an excellent historical news database. It is available at the Stillwater Public
Library via Heritage Quest.
- See links to databases of advertisements used in the past in the Advertising section.
- Determine the Importance of Weather and Climate on the Industry
The climate may force some industries to be seasonal. Weather can effect availability of raw materials, the need for goods
and services, and the rate at which products are consumed. The climate and weather at the producers site, their suppliers,
the region the components and finished products are transported through, and the consumers site may all be important.
- MONTHLY NORMALS OF TEMPERATURE, PRECIPITATION AND HEATING AND COOLING DEGREE DAYS 1951-1980
OSU# ECP 232 EN17 C644 no.81 (Federal Documents)
These small green booklets (one for each state) contain data for many of the towns within each state.
- CLIMATE OF THE STATES 3rd EDITION
OSU# 551.6973 C639 1985
A "civilian version" of the government publication above. It includes a general climate description for each state followed
by data for specific towns.
- WEATHER OF U.S. CITIES 4th EDITION
OSU# 551.6973 W362 1992
One page written description plus 3 pages of data for most large cities.
- ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS WITHIN SPECIFIED GEOGRAPHICAL REGIONS
OSU# ECP 232 EN 17 E615 CO 55 (Federal Documents)
Covers weather conditions out on the ocean for the areas near the U.S. coasts. Has air temp, water temp, wind speed and
direction, barometric readings, wave heights as percentile data read from off-shore buoys. Describes a "windrose" method
of graphically reporting wind direction and speed data or sea swell data.
- THE WATER ENCYCLOPEDIA 2nd EDITION
OSU# 551.4902 V235w 1990
Provides data on actual total hours of rainfall by different intensity levels in major cities (pgs 45-47).
- CLIMATE NORMALS FOR THE U.S. 1st EDITION
OSU# 551.69733 C6358
- Freese-Notis Commodities Weather
- Harris-Mann Climatology
- National Climactic Data Center (local historical weather data)
- UM Weather
- Government and/or Military Implications
The Government and/or Military applications of products or services has major impact or potential impact on industries or
specific companies. The Government and Military are huge consumers and potential users of many products and services.
When evaluating and industry or a specific company, be sure to consider both current and potential applications in this
area. Also be sure to monitor technologies being developed by them.
- Central Contractor Registration database of information on government contractors
- FedBizOpps Federal Business Opportunities, sort of a modern Commerce Business Daily
- Commerce Business Daily was the major source for government purchasing information up till a few years ago. Has since been
replaced by FedBizOpps (above). In addition to listing what they want, you can see past contract awards and amounts by firm.
Many versions both fee based and free were available online. Fee based versions had better search tools.The government even had
an official free version. These older materials can still be searched and are often very helpful.
Historical note - prior to the days of computers, this was a paper publication mailed every day to subscribers.
- Grants.gov search for government grants and awards
- Forecast International supplies military goods forecasts
- GSA Advantage catalog government agencies
use to purchase equipment and supplies at government discount
- BINCS Business Identification Cross Reference Number
System - awesome cage, upc, duns, sic, etc
- Universal Directory of Commercial Items is a Military UPC code index maintained by
Defense Logistics Information Service (DLIS). It can identify military parts
- H2 Federal Supply Classification (FSC) Finder
- FPDS PSC Wizard finds Product or Service Codes
- LogTool great tool for Military Logistics information - links to major sites by branch
- USA Search (previously FirstGov) major search engine for U.S. government information
- Terrorism - Protecting Americans at home and abroad has become a major concern of our Government. Many companies are currently
being formed to address some of the technical needs of fighting against terrorist acts (anti-terrorism). A Dept. of Homeland
Security has been formed. Those working on technical projects in this area will find these sites especially helpful:
- TSWG U.S. Government Terrorist Technology site, all the techie's hang out here.
- U.S. Government Terrorist Invention Proposals
- In-Q-Tel U.S. Government intelligence technology development group, they sometimes
provide seed money to fund development of anti-terrorism technologies.
- Navy Antiterrorism Technology Coordination Office was at https://workspace.asnrdacheng.navy.mil/nattco and required a
certificate to view
- DTIC an excellent military technology monitoring point.
- Janes provides indepth coverage of U.S. and foreign military technologies, weapons,
vessels, equipment and many other areas.
- Early Bird the military's news daily clipping service, you must be on a military computer
to access or get approved access.
- RAND Corporation, a think tank, publishes research on issues. Most of
them present information on issues confronting the government and society for use in making policy decisions. Currently,
terrorism and the military are hot topics.
- The International Market
- Online Translator sites are helpful in reading foreign web sites
- Babelfish has moved to Yahoo - translator
- Google Translate
- Import and Export Data
Harmonizations Codes are used in many reports to identify specific products moving between countries. Harmonizations codes
for the specific industry you are studying can usually be found from the links below. Note - the import codes may be different
from the export codes.
- U.S. Exports and Imports CD-ROM
Available at OSU Federal Documents. Has import and export data by country by month for current year. Also includes specific
port of entry and exit data.
To find the data you will need to determine the export and import codes for the specific product. They can be determined
on the CD. You may also be able to determine them on the web, but the sources frequently move.
- Federation of International Trade Associations FITA, import export site
- globalEdge International Business & Economic Sources portal created by Michigan State University
- Export.gov U.S. Dept of Commerce market research page for country reports by industry.
- NTDB (National Trade Data Bank) was available on Stat-USA at OSU. Full text of U.S. Dept. of Commerce reports on certain
industries in foreign countries and related U.S. export opportunities. Stat-USA funding was cut late in 2012.
- TradePort information to help develop international trade to or from California
- much of the information may be helpful to others as well, including free access to several international market studies
- Tulsa Public Library Business Library (4th Floor) has a number of International Business Directories.
- Statistical Yearbook 38th ISSUE
OSU# TUN 746 ST25 S796 1990/91 (Federal Documents)
Huge book of statistics by country printed by the United Nations.
- The U.S. International Trade Administration provides information online at its web site.
- Trade Stats Express charting access to basic stats worldwide by country, by
- U.S. International Trade Commission their Docket system (DataWeb) and Electronic
Data Information System (EDIS) contain very detailed reports of companies and the products they manufacture that have been
accused on price dumping products in the U.S. Those same studies include details on the entire industries involved. If your
industry has been recently studied, their could be a lot of information in here. Requires you to establish a free login.
- JETRO Japan External Trade Organization
- Sometimes a U.S. embassy in a foreign country or a foreign embassy in the U.S.
can be helpful in finding information.
- Asian Trade Leads and Manufacturers
- U.K. Dept for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) many excellent industry
and manufacturing reports - see publications section
- Euromonitor International provides international consumer product market
research data by country
- National Bureau of Statistics of China is in Chinese
- Mintel International International market reports
- NationMaster great source of mapped International stats
- EuroStat European statistics
- Kompass international company profiles and information, fee based database
- YesAsia source for Japan, Korea, China pop culture, books, magazines, food they
also sell US items in Asia to expatriates.
- Ad Flip great database of classic print ads
- Ad Access great database of historical print ads maintained by Duke
- ClipLand large database of worldwide television commercials
- Ex-employees of the company or industry
Be sure the interview is on the "up and up" and they are not violating some company information sharing agreement.
- Local newspapers of the towns the companies are in.
- Company Press Kits (like those provided to media at exhibitions)
- Industry and Company Photos and Plant Tours
- Superfactory provides links to virtual plant tours.
- FactoryTour.com "Watch in Made in The USA", provides details of hundreds of actual
plant tours. Find one in a related industry and to take it.
- Industry and company web sites may have them
- Aerial Photos
- Satellite photos may show a specific company's operation
Several groups are beginning to offer photos to 1 meter resolution.
See "The Propriety of Remote Sensing." Competitive Intelligence Review. Vol.10 No.1 First Quarter 1999 for a discussion of some
of the privacy issues involved
- Other Company and Product Images
- Other miscellaneous web sites that may prove useful include:
- Interview People From the Industry
AFTER becoming familiar with the industry by gathering data in the earlier steps, now we begin to try to interact, interview, or
find prior conversations with distributors, end users, and others in the distribution chain.
- Internet News Groups, Usenet, Blogs, Mailing Lists, EZines RSS feeds and Forums
These areas allow you to read the postings of end users of many consumer products, as well as professionals. Note, just because
you see it in print here does not mean it is real. Several of the financial forums have been used by those attempting to modulate
stock prices by making announcements or accusations. EZines are electronic versions of magazines. There are also thousands on
forums and bulletin boards. Many are industry specific.
RSS feeds news and other information by topic to viewers. RSSfeeds indexes over
80 thousand of them.
- Google Groups (previously DejaNews) is an excellent resource for researching newsgroups.
You can search for specific company names or products to locate recent postings using those words. In the early days of the internet,
newsgroups were a tremendous resouce. Now many of them are overran by spam.
- "Phoaks" Identifies those frequently participating in specific news
groups and lists sources frequently identified in newgroups. Can search by newsgroup. Idea is to identify quality sources of
information. There is a paper about how it works.
Phoaks appears to no longer be operational. It was at www.cs.indiana.edu/~sithakur/l542_p3
- Yahoo Groups thousands of "groups" maintained by Yahoo
- Internet FAQ Archives finds archives of FAQs in Usenet groups
- Net Scan in depth analysis of newsgroups and those posting in
groups. This is a great tool in many situations. The site seems to no longer be available, but I left the link because
it was a very useful tool and may come back. Was at netscan.research.microsoft.com
- Many Blogs (web logs) now provide a information about industries, companies, products, etc. You can
search several of them by using the Blog Search Engines on
our Search Engines Page on RBBI. We usually start with Technorati and
Google Blog Search.
- AllTop provides links to top blogs in about 60 categories
- Board Reader reads forums and message boards from about 3/4 of million sites.
Note the advanced search capabilities section
- PAML (Publicly Accessible Mailing List) Note- mailing lists, also known as listservs, are a very early form of newsgroups
used by the internet. Each message sent is independently delivered to each subscriber. Web based archives of many of them are
available. Those not familiar with mailing lists may need to study the procedure. PAML was a great resource at paml.alastra.com ,
but like many of the old tools, it is now gone.
- Tile.Net formerly LISTZ indexes many ezines, mailing lists and related information.
- LSoft official catalog of LISTSERVs
- If you are researching an area involving teenagers or college students, the social networking sites
MySpace and FaceBook and may be helpful.
- Yahoo Finance and Google Finance both
offer many online groups or forums of investors discussing specific companies.
- Personally interview people associated with the industry.
This is an excellent source of information. Try to interview 3 or more at each distribution level. Make up a list of questions to
try to fill in any gaps in the earlier research and to learn about the product and its competitors. If you ask the same questions
each time it gives you a good cross section of responses. Larger companies often have some type of public or media relations person.
That is an excellent place to start.
- ZoomInfo formerly Eliyon provides a great database of employees by company (past
and present) from data supplied by individuals and other sources. You should sign up for the business version when
using it for non personal research. Many list their positions with the company.
- Use Information Providers to Fill in the Gaps
- If needed pieces of information are still missing they can usually be obtained from information providers. These sources cost
money and thus are usually relied on as a last resort. Some are fairly economical and if you already have some subscription
type access to them, be sure and utilize them. The most commonly used ones are listed below.
- Lexis Nexis is a major information provider. Some of their offerings are available at OSU
- Manta summaries on millions of small businesses
- Goliath by Gale competitive intelligence, for a fee, but 1st
screen provides considerable amount of info for free
- Highbeam Business, formerly Goliath. No longer allows ongoing free access to identify articles.
- British Library fee based access to millions of research articles!!
- Report Linker provides access to free government reports worldwide for a base access fee.
- Dialog Dialog Select allows access with a credit card
- Factavia a great database available at many major libraries including Oklahoma State University
- Ebsco databases available at many public libraries including OSU and Stillwater Public Library
- Hoovers Business Library Info
- MEDLINE "the" major medical database, PubMed
- PACER - Public Access to Court Electronic Records
- Proquest / UMI
- Serials Solution lists many major information databases
- GreyNet a compilation of locally printed materials (not normally widely
distributed). It was previously at: www.acsw1.f9.co.uk
- One subset of this area, is providers of information about individuals. This may be work history, credit reports, driving
records, education records, bankruptcy history, or other public records. On occasion this information may be of use in investigations
of specific companies. It is also extensively used by some Human Resource Depts. in "checking out" new employees. A social security
number, birth date, middle name or drivers license number is often helpful.
We have numerous other tools we use to locate people and learn about them.
- If you have an internet URL (web site address) and for a company or information and the site is no longer active,
normally your browser returns a "404 error." If that happens you might try searching for the same site on
Google. They provide cached versions of the sites that may still obtain
the information you are seeking.
- Office Tools and Search Engines
- You will find our Office Tools page and
Search Engines List from RBBI (another
Polson Enterprises web site) very helpful during your research.
- We had a note here about using Gopher, the original search engine for
the pre-web internet. Gopher is now very difficult to find and most information
in that part of the internet is long out of date. But we could not resist leaving
this reference and wishing our old friend well in retirement.
- Search Engine Tips (key words)
When using search engines to find information about large industries or large companies, you may be
overwhelmed with "hits", especially for consumer product industries because you will find a zillion sites
trying to sell you the product. One way around this is to add one of the terms or groups of terms in the
list below to your search. Search for "the company name" or "the industry name" plus one of these terms.
insurance, pension, pension plan
take over, took over
hostile take over
manufacturer, manufacturers, manufacturing
market research, market study
history, archives, timeline
industry (use "industry" with the name of the industry)
tour, field day, open house, celebration, celebrated
home town of the company
death, died, passed away
point of sale, purchase
president of the company's last name
plus terms specific to this industry or company
By using this method, you will find the business related content, vs. hundreds of sites trying to sell you products. The list of words above
is certainly not complete, but it will give you a place to start. Test other words you think might be helpful.
You can also repeat this process on the Internet Archive to find historical postings,
Google Groups (previously called DejaNews) to find relevant newsgroup postings
and on the Blog Search Engines on our Search Engine Page to find relevant
blog content. Don't overlook the newsgroups and blogs, you may not find great info there, but they will often lead you to excellent content.
Although this method is almost essential for using search engines to find business intelligence on consumer industries and well known
companies, it is also often helpful for niche products and industries. It is also often of use when the industry or company name is the
same as a name of something heavily represented on the net (like the company name is the same as the name of a popular musical band
with many sites talking about the band and its music on the net- I have encountered that several times).
Several of the search engines now "cluster" results. Those clusters can be used to identify additional search terms that might be
Links for Researchers and Librarians
Those who frequently research the internet, libraries and other resources may find these sites of interest.
We suggest you print this page out and "mark it up" as you complete various steps. Typically we perform steps 1 through 4 and then select
some of the other steps depending upon the particular situation.
Often a considerable amount of information is gathered as the study is conducted.
- Separate it into folders by category (by step).
- Identify the major competitors in the industry and their market shares.
- Identify the current concerns of the industry.
- Identify government regulations effecting the industry (existing and proposed).
- Identify trends in the industry.
- Determine the life stage of the industry. (Technological Forecasting)
- Prepare the above information in a graphical format.
- Write a short overall report and a short summary of each category. Take a binder and put the overall report and the graphics at
the front, follow it with the category summary and the background materials for each category. Prepare tabs to make the binder easier
to use. Large reports may need to be split into two or more binders.
- Make copies of the final report if necessary.
Investigating an industry by this procedure takes time. I have used this system dozens of times and it takes me about two weeks
of half time work (40 to 60 hours spread out over a two week period to allow information requests to be responded to) to run an
industry through the entire program. It will take longer for novices and for those without easy access to some of the printed publications.
Industry Research Sites Similar to this One
We have discovered a few other sites with similar pages to this one. You might wish to try a blend of their and our methods or sources.
Some of them are a little more investment/financial information oriented than our site. They are listed below:
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
- I am researching a specific industry such as convenience stores and do not find anything on your site directly related to them.
What am I supposed to do?
- You need to work the site! Just start with the first 3 steps. Identify the Industry, Seek General Industry Information, and
Check Trade Magazines, Trade Organizations and Conferences for the industry. This is not a miracle site! It takes work to find the
information. If you do not have time or have difficulties finding the online and printed resources to carry it out, we provide this
service for hire at Polson Enterprises Research Services. We can speed up the process
because we are very familiar with the tools. Also, we are aware of many additional resources that can be brought to bear on specific
industries. Please visit our site to learn more about us.
- A specific link is not longer active, goes to the wrong site or the site now charges for information? The internet is still
pretty dynamic. We try to keep up, but it is very difficult.
If the site is down (URL seems good, just cannot bring it up):
- Use Google to search for the site then select to view their CACHE of the site. (This method is currently no longer easily available).
- Enter the URL into Internet Archive. You can often find a recent backup of popular sites there.
- If you still cannot find the site, give it a few hours if you can (sometimes only temporarily down), if it remains down, try the
steps in the URL is bad section below.
If the URL is bad:
- Search for the site using the Google search engine. This may find it if it moved.
- Use Google to search for the site and select to view their CACHE of the site. This stands a
strong possibility of recovering the site if it recently went down. (This method not currently available since Google withdrew the cache).
- Try searching for the link using the Google search engine. You can also try "peeling back" the URL (remove the end the URL backwards
to the next slash mark, try it, then repeat the process until you have tried the base URL).
- Enter the URL into Internet Archive. This can find long dead popular sites.
This project was once known as Alexa.
- "OSU and Area Library Periodical and Book Listings" by Gary Polson, 24 May 1995.
- Some major providers of CD ROMs and Research Books are:
SRDS (Standard Rate and Data Service)
Thomson and Gale
We are sometimes asked how to locate executives in specific industries by name. Many firms sell mailing lists by name. A few firms provide
research services in this area:
Please let us know if you like this site, if you have any suggestions or comments, please email us.
Don't forget to hire us if you ever need any services in this area (market, technical, patent, legal research). You can read about
our services, pricing and more information about us on the Polson Enterprises web site.
11 August 2012
- Major update and verified all links
11 August 2011
- Major update and verified all links
12 August 2010
- Major update and verified all links
5 August 2009
- Major update and verified all links
Noticed the web site URLs now seem much more stable than in years past
8 August 2008
- Major update and verified all links
8 August 2007
- Major update. Quit listing specific changes.
Thanks to our many users: companies investigating expanding into new markets with new products or acquisitions, competitive
intelligence professionals, information professionals, information specialists, librarians, technology development professionals,
independent inventors, marketing professionals, investors, state and municipality economic development professionals researching
industries and companies they are recruiting, college marketing classes and job hunters learning more about an industry, company
or market before they file a job application or attend an interview.
Our site was featured in the Vertical Portals article in the March/Apr 2001 issue of ONLINE magazine!!
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