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There is no point reinventing a wheel and there are many metaphorical wheels available to the market researcher. The expert desk researcher can quickly and inexpensively dig out data from a wide variety of sources to answer many of the questions that have already been asked.

Desk research is a term that is used loosely and it generally refers to the collection of secondary data or that which has already been collected. Accessing information via the Internet is the modem alternative to hours spent in libraries. For market researchers, the Internet has two important sources of information

1. the sites which companies, organisations and individuals have created to promote or communicate their products, services or views;
2. user groups/blogs that are made up of people who have an interest in a particular subject.

Google is the most efficient and widely used search engine but today there are a new breed of search engines eg that offer alternative approaches for unearthing information on a new topic or specialist subject.

Here are some top tips to help with your web searches:

How to make the most of Google:

• Type define: before a word (with no word spaces) to bring up definitions
• Enter a mathematical equation and Google will try to solve it
• Place a tilde (~) in front of a word for a fuzzy search: ~fruit pie, for example, brings back gives results for pear pie, peach pie, and so forth.
• Enter a wildcard symbol (*) if you want to find a fact: “* bones in the human bodyâ€? turns up 206
• Put the word books before your search terms and your may be able to read the title online.
• Click the Cached link beneath a search result to see Google’s copy of a web page, which it updates every few weeks. Handy if the page has changed since Google indexed it.

How to make the most of

• Organise results by topic – results for “market researchâ€? are categorised by Reports, Sales, Customer Satisfaction, Intelligence (listed in the top left); or can be viewed by the sources they came from; or by URL (, .org).
• Group your image-search results by size name type o file or URL
• Scour five leading blog search engines for you search term by clicking on the Blogs tab.
• To search within a website, enter site:sitename and your term: “customer satisfactionâ€? finds every article containing “customer satisfactionâ€? on B2B International’s website.
• Find pages within a specified domain. Type domain:fr to find pages from France, or domain:edu to find pages from educational sites.
• Search Wikipedia by clicking on the Wikipedia tab.

Desk research is information that costs next to nothing. It sits underneath our noses. It can easily be carried out by the do-it-yourself researcher. Moreover, for the ‘do your own’ researcher, desk research is a very practical tool – in most cases he or she is not at any disadvantage compared to the resources of a professional agency. A couple of days of desk research have a very big yield and the benefits of spending much more time searching, quickly diminish.

Visit for more information on ‘How to get information for next to nothing’.

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