Cigarette Preferences of Youth Smokers

If you sold cigarettes and were looking to boost sales, what could you do with a report like this one? What if you ran a program to keep kids from smoking?

Knowing more about the people you’re planning to sell to, or work with, can help you better reach them. Knowing more about an industry can help you better position yourself within that industry. Knowing more about a product or service can help you to better sell it.  

The process of finding all this out is market research. And the Hill Library can help.
The Hill collects hundreds of free market research reports – along with industry analysis and trade journal special reports – in the Special Issues Index. Find it with your HillSearch membership on the Custom Search page, or by selecting Market Research from the drop-down menu in BizToolkit.

There are hundreds of free reports in this collection including these, which we recently added:

Use these reports to get a clearer picture of your industry, your product, and your best customers. Then use that new focus to build a sales or marketing strategy, and increase your business.
Unless you sell cigarettes to kids. Then keep the heck out of the Special Issues Index.

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Business Web Site of the Week – SBA Dynamic Small Business Search

If you’ve ever used a service like InfoUSA or ZapData, you know how helpful it can be to generate a list of competitors or B2B prospects based on specific criteria. You also know how expensive it can be.

The Small Business Administration, it turns out, keeps tabs on a large group of businesses and provides free access to these records at this site. Use the Dynamic Small Business Search site to bring up a list of businesses by state, county, NAICS code, ownership demographic, and all manner of other criteria.

These are companies that have shown interest in contracting with the government, so industry coverage will lean toward service and manufacturing. And not every company will be included, of course. Also, the site isn’t particularly pretty or easy to use. Still, when the other option is a fistful of money, this company research tool isn’t too bad.

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"If you don’t have a Web site…you might as well not even name your company."

That’s according to Justin Kitch, CEO of Homestead Technologies Inc., who offered tips on using the Internet in his address to a Small Business Summit earlier this year.
But Kitch goes on to say that just having a Web site is not nearly enough. Web sites must be dynamic, they must be aimed at more than just new or existing customers, and they must be incorporated into a larger Internet strategy. Read about Kitch’s 10 suggestions for small business Web sites here.
The advice for a company’s Web site is sound, but for businesses that already have fairly sophisticated presences on the Web, the discussion has moved past Web sites. What’s coming next? Will it soon be true that if you don’t have a blog, you might as well not even name your company? A social networking profile? A podcast, or a vlog? To what extent are these things already true?
Feel free to discuss or tell us your thoughts in the comments section of our shiny new dynamic, Web-2.0-friendly, user-interactive, community-focused blog.

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Business Web Site of the Week – Legal Tips for a Lawful Life

U.S. law covers a lot of ground. One might say the law protects life, liberty, and – in many cases – the pursuit of business. To find out more about how legal issues affect your business, access these Legal Tips for a Lawful Life.

This site provides “quick and dirty” podcasts and transcript articles on navigating legal issues. If you’ve got questions, this site has answers. Forming a business? Thinking about drug-screening your employees? Wondering about copyright on the Internet? Learn more about
the legal repercussions to these business issues, and find legal tips for your personal life, too.

Investigate the legal aspects of these after-work issues: Good neighbor relations, ownership of a homerun ball, and/or alcohol liability. Plus, haven’t you always wanted to conduct a citizen’s arrest? Or is that just me?

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Battling Pirates, Protecting Content

In a recent post, the Hidden Business Treasures blog highlighted an example of overt plagiarism in marketing copy. This isn’t the first reported instance of pirated content online, and in our cut-and-paste-friendly era, it probably won’t be the last.
HBT suggestions for tracking down plagiarism in Google were great – and gave us here at the Hill the inspiration to dig up some additional tools to make sure the copy you create stays where it belongs. Here then are the top four tools to identify and combat online plagiarism:

Copyscape – Compare the copy on your Web site to other sites across the Internet. Just paste in your URL and Copyscape returns other sites with similar language.
ArticleChecker – Paste smaller snippets of your text into the site’s search box or upload larger files of complete text. ArticleChecker runs these through several search engines and returns sites with similar copy. 

Google Alerts or Yahoo! Alerts – Set up alerts to notify you if a site appears using key pieces of your copy.

Wayback Machine – Research the history of a site you think might be using your copy. If the suspect site posted copy closely after you created it, you may have found a pirate.

But what if you do find someone using your copy? How do you make them stop?

1. Send an email to the perpetrator if their contact info is listed on the site. If your copy shows up on a blog, leave a comment. Here’s an example of a cease and desist letter.
2. Contact the host of the infringing site and ask them to take the site down. Locate a site’s host using DomainTools.
3. Complain to search engines. Most search engines accept complaints involving copyright issues and will remove offenders from results pages.

Great copy is an investment. You’ve put time and energy into the creation of your content; make sure that content pays dividends for you, and not some Internet pirate.

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Top Corporate Citizens, and More on Ethical Business Leadership

Running a responsible business in the 21st century presents numerous challenges. CRO Magazine celebrates the top 100 companies most successfully addressing these challenges in their 100 Best Corporate Citizens, 2007. According to CRO, top indicators of excellent corporate citizenship include:
Environmental responsibility. Corporate governance and ethics. Fairness toward employees. Accountability to local communities. Providing responsible products and service to customers. Maintaining a healthy rate of return for investors.
What else is involved in sound corporate citizenship, and how can socially responsible practices be best incorporated into everyday business decisions? On October 4, Ken Melrose, former CEO of Toro Co., will kick off the opening of the Hill Center for Ethical Business Leadership with a keynote on the practical aspects of making socially responsible leadership decisions that work for business, and how he implemented that style of thinking at Toro. Register to attend this event here or contact us for more information.
For information on how your business can fully integrate corporate social responsibility and ethical business practice, check out the Business Ethics eQuiz at www.einsight.org.
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Business Web Site of the Week – Research Reports from Docuticker

All across the world, think tanks, NGOs, public interest groups, and governmental bodies are constantly churning out reports, studies, and papers. It’s what they love to do. But how can you sift through all of this to find research that pertains to your business?

Docuticker, that’s how. Docuticker collects publications from organizations spanning the globe and covering the full spectrum of industry, government, and academia. Dozens of these reports are added daily.

Scrolling down the left-hand column you’ll find a keyword search box and a listing of categories covered. Use these search tools to bring up reports on your industry, or your target consumer group, or just about anything else in which government, business, or academia might take interest. 

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Demographic Trends, With Attitude

The Demo Memo is a blog maintained by Cheryl Russell (editorial director of New Strategist Publications and author of books on demographic trends) and Susan Mitchell (an editor at New Strategist and a research analyst for Mintel International). Russell and Mitchell update the blog with posts related to population, generational trends, spending habits, attitudes, time use statistics, and other miscellaneous interesting tidbits.
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Email Pattern Wiki

One particularly daunting challenge that email marketers face is the task of tracking down an email address for a specific executive at a certain company. While it can be pretty straightforward to get an executive’s name from a company Web site or a company directory database, these resources do not generally provide email contacts, beyond the catch-all “info@company.com”, etc.
The Email Pattern Wiki provides a little extra help, by listing the email pattern used by a number of companies. Once you know your prospect’s name and company, you can search the Email Pattern Wiki by company name, and learn the general email address format used by the company.
For example, if you know Jane Jones is the marketing director at Medco Health, search the Wiki for Medco and learn their email pattern: first_last@medcohealth.com.
It’s a wiki, so it will expand based on user input. If you find it useful, and know some additional email patterns to contribute, contact the site to consider sharing what you know.
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Business Web Site of the Week – Fastest Growing Private Companies

Fast company growth can be the product of wise planning, effective positioning, or just plain old luck. Check out the lucky, the wise, and the effective with the Inc. 5,000 listing of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S.
In addition to searching by company name, rank, and size, Inc. organizes companies into various top 100 lists. You can use these lists to find out more about the often hard-to-research private companies making the biggest impact in your area or in your industry, along with other criteria.
Skip through the initial “welcome” page, and you’re quickly on your way to targeting the wisest, the most effective, and the fastest-growing companies out there.

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