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Biz Researchers Heart Census Bureau

Here at the Hill Library, we love the Census Bureau. It’s simply the best source to start with when conducting just about any kind of business research. Plus, it’s free. The Census Bureau counts almost every person in the U.S. and keeps statistics on virtually every industry.
Sometimes, though, when we send researchers to the Economic Census site for industry research, they come back all crestfallen because that actual data comes from 2002.
“2002,” they say incredulously, “that’s, like, totally ancient.”
Well, here’s a day-brightener for those gloomy searchers. The Census Bureau puts out much more current research on specific industry sectors, at sites like this one for the Service Industry.
Currently, one can find 2006 reports on these service industries:

…along with some 2007 quarterly updates, more 2006 service industry reports coming soon, and lots of 2005 reports now available.
If you’re instead looking for retail sector industry statistics (including food and accommodations), check out:Annual Retail Trade Survey, which includes 2005 data.
Or if you’re researching the manufacturing sector, try:Manufacturing Current Industrial Reports, with many 2006 reports along with selected 2007 quarterly updates.  
The Census Bureau is a powerful industry research resource, if you know where to look. Start with these sites – we think you’ll heart them.
p.s. You can find these links along with more free industry research sites on the BizToolkit, by selecting Industry Research from the drop-down menu.

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Large and in charge, but in a delightful sort of way

Doesn’t that remind you of Mr. T? Or is that just me?

Anyway. What I’m officially referring to is more end-of-year lists! Today’s lists highlight big companies, powerful business leaders, and delightful places to live. Let’s take a look.

Last week, BizJournals.com came out with America’s Fun Cities, a ranking based on food, shopping, and entertainment. Don’t feel too bad Memphis. After all, you could have been #51.

The Read/Write Web Blog announced their pick for the Best Big Web Company. (Note: it’s not Google. They’re number two.)

And Fortune Magazine came out with the 25 most powerful people in business.
Sorry, Mr. T – it’s strictly businesspeople.

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Business Web Site of the Week – Design of Desire

Why do people purchase the things they do? Is it neurological? Cultural? Social? American RadioWorks, public radio’s documentary unit, set out to find the answer.

What they came up with is this site: Design of Desire. It chronicles the biological impulses of purchase decisions (Tightwads and Spendthrifts), the ways in which retail design affects buyers (Buying the Tribe), and how branding gets personal online (A Brand of Me). 

If you’ve bought or sold anything recently – and we think you probably have – this site might shed some light on that purchase. Think of it as the “why” of buying. 

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Best Business Books of 2007

It’s hard to know what criteria to use in determining what is a good business book, but my favorite answer to the question comes from the publishing industry itself: “What makes a good business book?” asked Marion Maneker, editorial director at HarperCollins Business. “I don’t know. Something that sells.”

Spoken like a true business person.

In our ongoing series of year-end lists, here is BusinessWeek magazine’s attempt at listing the best business books of 2007. You’ll find management doctrinaires such as The Strategy Paradox: Why Committing to Success Leads to Failure (And What to Do About It) and The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. Also case studies such as Boeing Versus Airbus and The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty, the opines of former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan in The Age of Turbulence, and others.

And while it’s not a 2007 book, also consider picking up Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, in anticipation of the Hill Library’s Business Book Club discussion set to take place in February.

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2007 Lists – Here they come!

The Web is positively churning these days with end of the year lists, touting the best and the brightest of 2007. We’ll bring you word of the big lists throughout December here on the Hill Library blog, but what can you do with them?

You can use these 2007 lists to make a guess about what 2008 will be like – because what’s leading edge today is commonplace tomorrow.

So when Oxford University Press lists top words of the year you might assume that these highlight new ideas working their way into our everyday vocabulary.

When Yahoo lists 2007 search trends and Google announces fastest growing search terms, you can discover the types of topics holding our collective attention.

The things that spark our interest today just might charge our credit cards tomorrow. Can you use these lists to plan strategically?

Stay tuned for more end-of-year lists!

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Business Web Site of the Week – Ethnic Events

Targeting your marketing message to a particular group of people can be a powerful strategy, but also a daunting task. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to get out into a community and just talk to folks, face-to-face?

With Ethnic Events you can find cultural events, festivals, and get-togethers in your area. Search by ethnicity, event date, and event location and then contact the event organizers and ask about sponsorship or the possibility of setting up a booth.

Multicultural marketing doesn’t have to involve a big advertising team and slick, expensive design elements. It can just be you, talking to people about how your product or service can help them. Ethnic Events can help you find those people.

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Behavioral Targeting – Do you want to be targeted?

When Amazon recommends something to me based on what other customers have purchased, I think that’s a helpful service, and a more or less successful one.

When a public library says it will provide coupons to local businesses based on books I’ve checked out, that seems helpful too. But it does make me a little nervous. Who has access to my library records?

When Facebook says it can track what I do on sites that aren’t Facebook, that seems intrusive. And it makes me very nervous about where that information will go without my knowledge.

These are all elements of an emerging marketing trend called behavioral targeting. Behavioral targeting will be huge in the months and years to come – that much is clear. What is less clear is where the boundaries of this type of marketing should be drawn.

Are you okay with Facebook and Google and your public library knowing about your interests? Or are you not? 

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Are you thinking about coffee right now?

According to a market research study from Affinion Group, half of you are.

This study offers demographic characteristics of consumers of caffeinated beverages and ranks metro areas by caffeine consumption (including statistics on coffee, soda, tea, chocolate, and caffeinated pain relievers).

Find more coffee industry statistics and coffee market research with the Hill Library Special Issues Index. It is available for free on the BizToolkit (enter under Free Access and select Industry Research) and can also be found on the Custom Search page of HillSearch. Search for “coffee.”

I think maybe I’ll go search for coffee myself.

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Business Web Site of the Week – Six Online Shopping Scams

There’s not much that can’t be accomplished online these days. Shopping especially has become commonplace on the Internet. But with this increased traffic comes an increase in scams, as well.

You can avoid the most common online thievery with these six tips from the SmartMoney site. Learn more about protecting yourself at auction sites, recognizing counterfeit goods, and avoiding fake Web sites.

Maintaining a certain level of protection while conducting online transactions is imperative whether it involves your business or your personal life. Stay protected and learn to spot the scams with help from this site.

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Ho-Ho-Ho-ly Cow, We Buy A Lot During The Holidays

Raise your hand if you did a little shopping this past weekend. If your hand is in the air, count yourself among the more than 147 million shoppers who hit the stores, up 4.8 percent from last year. That’s according to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation.

How many of you are doing a little shopping online right now, from your work computer? I won’t make you raise your hand, so you won’t get in any trouble. But if there were to be a show of hands, you wouldn’t be the only one with your hand up: a Shop.org survey suggests that 54.5% of office workers with Internet access will shop for holiday gifts from work. That’s at least 68.5 million hands in the air, depending on how many of you are so excited you’ve raised both of your hands.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) classifies total retail industry sales from November and December to determine figures for the winter holiday “season”. Any way you slice it, the holiday season means big business for retailers. The NRF is predicting 2007 holiday sales to be 4.0% higher than they were in 2006. If that projection were to prove correct, holiday sales this year would ring up to 474.5 billion dollars.

The NRF has prepared a 2007 Holiday Survival Kit that contains all kinds of statistics, including fast facts, historical holiday retail sales, holiday retail sales by sector, factors that influence sales, retail employment and loss prevention information. The kit can be found here.

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IMPORTANT NOTICE:

We are pleased to announce the completion of our elevator renovation at the James J. Hill Center. This project was financed in part with funds provided by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society and the F. R. Bigelow Foundation. It will greatly increase our ability to serve patrons with accessibility needs.

Please access our ground floor elevator entrance via Kellogg Ave at the back of the building. Please ring the doorbell on the right hand side of door and a Hill staff member will assist you. If you have questions or concerns please call 651.265.5500. We look forward to having you visit our brand new elevator!

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