Bring yourself up to speed by starting with a market or industry report. These secondary research tools define catagories (sometimes not precisely as you would wish), estimate market size and growth potential, describe the competitive forces impacting the industry and identify key players.
Don't forget to take advantage of the links to trade news and associations to learn about the most recent developments.
For this project you may need to search mutual funds, investment advisors, brokerage or 529 investment managers or college savings vehicles.
NetAdvantage (Standard & Poor's Capital IQ)
The first step in the competitor analysis is to choose relevant competitors. The industry reports, news you've gathered in the category analysis and the case itself should provides insight into firms competing in your defined market.
Once you have identified potential competitors reading company profiles and reports (see the list of databases below) will be helpful. Don't neglect looking over 10K's or annual reports for public companies. Note that reports and data on private companies my be sparse, so you may need to place greater reliance on news and analysis of their web sites. Company profiles for private label competitors will focus on the firms primary business.
Just as you updated industry reports with news, do so for the competitor analysis.
Morningstar Investment Research Center
MarketLine Company Profiles (EBSCO)
Saving for College 529 rankings
Market research reports are rich sources for understanding consumer behavior around product categories. Mintel and Marketresearch.com are particularly useful for understanding target customers such parents, grandparents and children saving for college.
MRI+ National Consumer Survey is not strong on psychographic data but it does provide reliable demographic and media consumption attributes for consumers.
Scholarly research (discoverable through ABI Inform, Business Source Premier & PsycInfo) on "consumer behavior" "consumer attitudes" purchasing or "decision making" may not always be timely but it is typically reliable.
If you use market research found on the free web, do due diligence to make sure the research is high quality. You can use some well recognized social science research organizations such as Pew as a model.
ESRI (contact email@example.com for access) offers demographic data and a proprietary market segmentation scheme called Tapestry.
You may find some very interesting results by googling. Be discriminating about using reports that don't source data presented. Whenever appropriate seek out underlying source data. See Business Sources: How to Evaluate ThemMRI University Internet Reporter
ESRI Business Analyst Online Access Instructions
Access courtesy of the Department of Geography & the Environment.
ABI/INFORM Complete (ProQuest)
Business Source Premier (EBSCO)
PsycINFO (ProQuest) Tutorial
Crafting an integrated marketing plan is primarily a creative project. Nontheless, expect to be able to defend your marketing recommendations by referring to studies and cases evaluating similar techniques. You can find "how to", practitioner advice and rigerous reseach on marketing topics in books and articles discoverable in the following databases
Creates custom reports on advertising expenditures across twelve media channels including TV, cable, magazines, newspapers, radio, and outdoor and internet displays on the level of industries, categories, brands, products, and advertisers going back to 2007.
Falvey Book Search
Offers information on global advertising and marketing trends including case studies, articles, reports, opinion pieces, and expenditure data. Formerly known as World Advertising Research Center.
Offers data and reports related to digital marketing. Topics include advertising spending, digital marketing, social media, media usage, e-commerce, email marketing, and device usage. Coverage is global.