Let the Other Guy Answer It for You

August 10, 2006

Let’s say you have a burning question but you can’t find what you are looking for with your Internet search (or maybe you don’t want to take the time to find it!). Instead, ask Google your question, but don’t do it the traditional way.

Go to answers.google.com – instead of google.com. At Google Answers, type in your question, offer a fair price ($2.50 being the minimum) and send it off to Google’s squad of 250 researchers.Here’s just one example. Recently someone asked the Google researchers – “Where can I purchase email and street address data for College Seniors who are about to graduate?” The questioner offered $200 for the answer. One of the Google researchers wrote back and recommended Alloy Media & Marketing (www.alloymarketing.com), a company that specializes in target marketing to college age prospects.

Or, don’t even pay anything! Google Answers keeps a database of all their previous questions and answers, like the one above. Before you offer to pay the Google researchers anything, do a search of Google Answers first to see if someone else has already asked your question. Look for the search box labeled “Search Google Answers for” on the Google Answers home page. If someone has already asked (and answered) a question like yours, you won’t have to spend a cent!

Not everything is Google – although they’d like to make you feel that way. Sometimes your questions deserve a higher level answer. Thomas Friedman has coined the term “Flat World” to describe how the Internet has leveled the playing field of competition – allowing small companies to compete with the big ones. When it comes to research, the biggest companies in the world have always had their own business research libraries, staffed by professional librarians. Employees of such companies simply have to pick up the phone or send an e-mail whenever they have a complicated question, need a company background check or want a list of targeted sales leads.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? The “flat world” of the Internet does make almost anything possible,like a service that helps small companies and entrepreneurs get that same Fortune 500 research power. The James J. Hill Reference Library at www.jjhill.org is the oldest and most prestigious business research library in America. This non-profit organization offers a $50-a-month subscription to databases and research tools that would cost thousands of dollars if you purchased them separately. Even better, you can call or e-mail their expert researchers with your own search, background or sales lead questions.

I have to think that means that the biggest companies in the world just lost their edge in research!

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