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Small Business Hub: A Research Guide for Entrepreneurs

Market Your Business

Marketing is much more than just advertising—it's all of the actions you take to promote and sell your products or services. Marketing books often talk about the 4 p's of the marketing mix: price, promotion, place, and product. This includes areas like branding, social media advertising, and cold call selling. As part of deciding promotional strategies, consider your goals and determine what benchmarks will let you know it's a success. While social media can be a free way to advertise, paying for a direct mailing coupon campaign might bring actual customers in your neighborhood to your store.

Figuring out what appeals to your customers involves doing both primary and secondary market research. Primary research is going out and surveying your potential customers on their needs and wants, what would motivate them to use your product, and what product features are most attractive. Secondary research is using already collected research, such as information from census data, market databases, and published survey results.


Starting points:

  1. Research costs for your product or service to calculate the price to sell to customers.
  2. Decide what promotion strategies will best reach your target audience.
  3. Find examples of similar products or services. How do they promote their product? What works and what doesn't work?

Suggested strategies:

  • Search for case studies based on the type of business (for example, coffee shop AND promotions) or type of promotion (small business AND coupons).
  • Trade publications will often publish surveys on topics relevant to the industry. Use article databases or trade associations to search for consumer surveys. 

Select Resources

The subscription resources below marked with a padlock  are available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress. If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are provided when available.

These are freely available online sources provided by government agencies, trade publications, and organizations.

The following guides were created by the Library of Congress to give an in-depth list of resources on a specific topic.