Turning Demographics Into Gold

    November 4, 2002

Do you know who buys, or is likely to buy, your products, services, or information?

If not, you should be looking for demographic information that will help you make good marketing decisions.

You do not have to be a research guru in order to use demographic information. Just look for the results of studies other people have done and then apply them to your business.

For example, my audience is the mature market…people over 50. There is a lot of data on this group and more studies are being done daily. Some data I found indicated that older people are avid readers. They really like newspapers and magazines. If I was trying to find clients for estate planning services, I would know that I should advertise through newspapers and magazines, rather than spend money on television.

Since my business is internet-based, this information about reading tells me that I should provide a content- rich web site for my older customers, and that mailing a printed newsletter could be another way to develop my customer relationships.

How do you find demographic data? First, find out who might be keeping tabs on your audience. I know, for instance, that AARP surveys people over 50 constantly. AARP makes that information available on its website. I also know that Forrester Research (http://www.forrester.com) does studies on older people, along with many other groups. Yankelovich Partners (http://www.yankelovich.com/) has been a leader in market research on older consumers; and Age Wave (http://www.agewave.com/) collects tons of stats on this market for its website.

Although AARP data is free, research firms sell their information…often at prices that the small business or entrepreneur cannot afford. But, by reading their news releases and the snippets of data they make available to the general public, you can glean quite a bit. To find firms that do research on your demographic, check out MarketResearch.com (http://www.marketresearch.com/).

Another great source are the news release distribution services. You can sign up to receive their news releases by email. Common ones are Internet Wire (http://www.internetwire.com), Internet News Bureau (http://www.newsbureau.com), and PR Web (http://www.prweb.com).

In addition, there are search tools you can use to make your data collection easier. Copernicus (http://www.copernic.com/desktop/index.html) is search software that is downloaded to your computer. It will search most search engines for keywords and phrases. You can get a free trial version to see how it works. Tracerlock (http://www.tracerlock.com) is a web-based service that searches most of the news portals on the web and then alerts you by email when it finds your keywords. I have found this very useful and gladly pay its monthly fee. Spyonit (http://www.spyonit.com) is a free service that will spy on specific URLs or keywords and phrases. It delivers what it finds to you by email.

Don’t overlook the magazines and journals that are specific to your audience. For the older audience, I keep an eye on the AARP magazines, Readers Digest, Aging Today, and several others. Even a regular perusal of the daily newspaper will yield lots of information. USA Today is a great source of quick, easy-to- understand statistical data. Take a look at the NYTimes online, and sign up for The Wall Street Journal’s online version.

By casting your information “net” in this way, you are more likely to come across data that will help you devise better marketing strategies. In addition, you will find a lot of content for your website and ezine.

Now, if I could just figure out how to use the fact that the older market is an up and coming group for pet supplies (it’s true!).

Joanne Fritz, Ph.D. owns American Dream Publishing. She specializes in the mature market with three websites: