Whenever you're first trying to understand your market and your customers, marketing research is a great place to start! Here's some online resources with lots of great information about the customers in your area of business!
Neilson resource about customer segmentation. Type in a zipcode to see the profiles of the top 5 customer segments within that zip code. Information about everything including income, age, presence of children, education, homeownership, employment, race, and lifestyle. Much is available for free on this site.
Type in the zipcodes of your area and explore the documents available to see information about demographics and income levels from the US census
Type in the name of a city or a zipcode to see information about demographics, income levels, local businesses, etc.
14 Tools for Marketing Research
Small Business Info
Boston Public Library
The Boston Public Library is my new favorite place, and they have lots of online resources. If you don't already have a library card, you can get one HERE: http://www.bpl.org/general/circulation/ecards.htm. Just click the "registration form" link in the answer to the first question on the FAQ. Filling in this form and getting an e-card will give you access to the online resources. You will have to go into the physical library to get a card to check out books (see "how do I upgrade to a standard library card" further down on the page.
To access resources: From the BPL homepage, click the My Account button to log in to your library account. Then, click the tab near the top of the website that says "Articles & More."
To show you some of the resources I would start with for marketing research: In the "Search Databases Listed by Subject," click Business. Now when you scroll down on the new screen, there are a bunch of links to different databases. I haven't even begun to explore them all, but here's what I see from the ones I did look at.
AtoZ databases: Wow, this one has so much information, and I've barely even looked into it. For B2B resources, check out the "30 Million Businesses & Executives" link that says "Get Started." You can see what businesses are in your area and some characteristics about them. It also has lots of information about consumer demographics. Fair warning though: Don't hit the back button while in this database! It will kick you out and you'll have to start all over.
DemographicsNow: Well worth some exploration, especially the maps feature. You can see things geographically like demand for a type of store, average consumer spending on different types of products, basic demographics, and more. Under the maps tab, enter the city, then under thematic controls click the arrow for Variable. Choose the last option on the list, more variables, and explore the options that come up! Other parts of the database have more info too, but I thought the maps were particularly worth mentioning!
Your Own Research
Writing good survey questions
Customer satisfaction measures
Add some humor!
Quick Satisfaction Survey Idea
SKS (Stop, Keep, Start) https://hbr.org/2011/08/three-questions-for-effective-feedback