A coworker passed me a review of http://www.dataplace.org/ which was recently published in Choice. Like most people, I’m always on the lookout for something free that’s really useful. This site is my new favorite free thing. Let’s take a look at why.
First, head over to http://www.dataplace.org/. Just to the right of the page’s center, type in a place name, address, or ZIP code of your choice. (I chose 29414.)
Look at all the interesting things that happen next! You see an area overview map, short description of the area including some basic Census data about it. Scroll down for another treat: 6 tabs filled with dozens of demographic measures on topics including population, education, income, employment, language, economy, housing, housing costs, housing hardship, mortgage lending, borrower characteristics, business establishments, transportation to work–and on and on and on! True, this data can be found on other sites, but this DataPlace removes the need for you to repeat your search in several places and collate the data yourself. That’s a big enough time saver, but get this: You can map some of this data. Maps! It’s so hard to find decent mapping of demographics for very small geographical areas (which, let’s face it, is what you want if you’re trying to figure out a location for a new business) yet this site makes several maps like magic! I made this map for the Population Density of 29414 in essentially one click. Amazing!
This site’s fabulousness is courtesy of Fannie Mae, which explains its emphasis on demographics related to population and housing. So next time you need some demographics for your marketing or business planning, check out this site!
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It’s Part 2 of the Essential Sources series, and we’re back in the world of statistics for another post. Both of these titles are published by New Strategist Publications and offer easier access to BLS data.
Best Customers is another work based on the BLS’s Consumer Expenditures Survey. This book looks at spending patterns by demographic characteristics of households. It has a fairly extensive scope, including 300 common products and services. It is organized by housholder’s age, income, household type, and region of the country. It is even easier to read than Household Spending, since the tables are especially clear and explanations of terms appear on the tables themselves. These statistics have a variety of good uses. Most importantly, small business owners can use the information to decide which types of householders are most likely to spend money on their product or service, which is an effective way to organize a marketing campaign.
American Men & Women draws its data from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Educational Statistics, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the General Social Survey of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. Like Best Customers, this book is highly readable and offers all kinds of statistics about men as a group and women as a group. Many products and services appeal more stongly to one group than the other, so statistics that help the enterepreneur figure out if marketing and promotional materials need to appeal to one over the other.
We have one more statistics source to cover next time before we head into other kinds of our most frequently used Business Center resources.
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Here at the library, we field a lot of the same kinds of question about business. Most of our patrons are in various stages of planning a small business, so as a result, we tend to use some of the same books over and over again to solve the same problems. “Essential Sources” will be a semi-regular series of posts to profile the resources that we use routinely and just couldn’t get along without.
Our first source starts us off with statistics. Yes, feel free to groan a little. We don’t think statistics makes for fun light reading, either, but finding a statistic is a do-or-die kind of question for researchers. Either someone collects it and we can find it somewhere…or no one does and we can’t and if you still need it, you’ll have to come up with a way to do it yourself.
Many statistical sources can be intimidating to use, with abbreviated column headings, tables that span multiple pages, and distressingly long lag times between data collection and the dissemination of the final set of numbers. We have some great sources in the Business Center that helps to get around most of those problems.
Household Spending, edited by New Strategist Publications, is based on data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in their Consumer Expenditure Survey, an ongoing nationwide survey of–you guessed it–household spending. The data covers every type of household and tracks everything from small purchases to big-ticket items. It does not include information about government, business, or institutional spending, so if those groups are in your potential market you must seek what you need elsewhere. There is a lag time of two years, but that seems reasonable if you consider the time it takes for the BLS publish the CE, then for New Strategist to extract the data they want. The primary advantage of using Household Spending instead of the original is ease of use. The BLS publication is aimed at professional economists, not your average small business owner. New Strategist’s version, on the other hand, is a bit easier for the average user and provides things like a glossary and full explanations of how to read the entries. The book is organized by major product or service category. Tables show the age of the householder, household income, household type, racial or Hispanic origin of the householder, and lots of details about what the householder spends on those products or services.
Next up for “Essential Sources” will be other New Strategist titles, Best Customers and American Men and Women.
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