TRAINING CORNER: Using Reference USA to Build the Target Account List for Your Marketing Plan

By Julius Alberici
You’re working on putting together your marketing plan and you want to identify companies that you will target for your job search. Well, Reference USA is a good resource to help you, is free to most library card holders in New Jersey, and it can be accessed from home or by going to the library.
This article will help you to find Reference USA, find the tutorials on how to use it and provide easy way to navigate Reference USA to help you find companies you may want to target.
Finding Reference USA
If you are going to use Reference USA from home you will need your library card because to log in you will need to enter your library card (barcode) number. We have verified that Reference USA is available to library cardholders in Somerset, Hunterdon and Union counties; if you live in another county, check with your librarian to ensure that your library subscribes to the online Reference USA service.
From any County in New Jersey, go to the following URL and then select Reference USA which is listed under the ―Business‖ section and you will be taken to the login screen.
Enter the bar code on your library card and then select “Go” and you will be taken to the Reference USA home screen.
Using Reference USA: The Easy Way
After you have logged in, you will be at the home page for Reference USA. At the top of the page will be a question asking “Want to see how it works?” If you select this, you will find a couple of tutorials that you may want to look at. If you decide to view the tutorials, when you are finished with the tutorials go back to “Home” by selecting this from the top tabs.
The home screen will list a number of databases, and you should start by choosing “U.S. Business / Employers USA.” This will take you to a screen with 2 tabs; Quick Search and Custom Search. While using the “Custom Search” will give you the most complete list, this can be intimidating and I suggest you start with “Quick Search.”
You probably already know a number of companies you want to target. If not, you certainly already know the name of the company that you last worked for and maybe even a few of their local competitors. So, let’s start by entering the name of your last company and select the State of New Jersey. Then click “View Results” and you will get a list of companies / locations that match your search results. Select the company at their primary location in New Jersey. The report that will come up will have multiple sections. The ones I want to bring to your attention are:

  • Location Info (first section)
  • Industry Profile (third section)
  • Competitors Report (twelfth section)

Start by looking at the Industry Profile section and copy down the SIC code and description. If you later want to do a custom search, knowing SIC industry codes will be very helpful to find similar companies.
Next, open / expand the Competitor Report section. This report will give you a list of companies that are geographically close to the company you searched. It is likely that some of these are targets for your job search.
Next, go up to the Location Info section and note the last row in the section which is “Radius Search.” Enter the miles radius you want to use for your search and click “Find Similar.” This will give you a list of all similar companies within the number of miles radius you suggested. You now have another list of possible target accounts.
Note that at the bottom of the page you have the option to “Download” or “Print” the company information for your selected company.
I would suggest you take any other companies you had previously identified as targets for your job search, plus any that you found from the data on the company you just researched, and repeat the process for each company. This should yield a nice targeted account list by the time you finish.
Using Reference USA: Custom Search
If you want to find more targeted companies for your job search, then go back to the first search screen and select “Custom Search.” If you are already in Reference USA, clicking on “New Search” will bring you to the first search screen.
Once you are at the Custom Search screen, click the arrow next to “Business Type” and this will open a box for you to enter your search criteria. At the bottom of the section you will see two rows of boxes in which to enter the SIC codes for the industries you want to target. Remember that we suggested that you copy the SIC codes for the companies you searched above. The reason for asking you to copy these SIC codes is so that you can enter them here as these are the codes for industries of interest to you. If the SIC codes you copied have a hyphen, enter the SIC code in the box WITHOUT the hyphen.
After completing the “Business Type” section, go to the “Geography” section. You can then decide what area you want to search in. You choose to search by State, by City, by Metro Area, by specific zip codes or by radius from your zip code. Click on the box for the criteria you want to use and enter the search criteria.
Now look at the right side of the screen and you will see a green box that says “View Results” and below it a blue box that says “Update Count.” When you click on update count it will show you how many companies match your search results. You can then either adjust the number of SIC codes or the geography to increase or decrease the number of matches. When you are finished entering the criteria, then click on “View Results” and you will get a list of companies that match your search criteria. Note that you can download or print the results of the search.
Reference USA is a powerful tool to use in developing your job search marketing plan. It is available to you free of charge through your local library and can either be accessed from the library or from home.
While it may initially seem intimidating, it is not that difficult to use and I hope this article will help you get started and will enhance your job search activities.

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