Good resource for marketing research?

I’m plan­ning on start­ing a busi­ness in a few years. I re­al­ize that I have ab­solutely zero en­trepreneurial ex­pe­rience and re­ally don’t know what I’m do­ing when it comes to ap­peal­ing to my tar­get au­di­ence. I know a num­ber of psy­cholog­i­cal tricks that should in the­ory work, but the­ory and prac­tice of­ten differ and my un­der­stand­ing of the the­ory isn’t ro­bust enough to make up for the differ­ence.

So, what I need is some kind of ra­tio­nal di­rec­tion to look in so that I can start dig­ging into the ba­sic mar­ket­ing re­search I’ll need to do be­fore I plunk money down on a busi­ness. At this point my ex­per­tise is limited to hav­ing read Michael Ger­ber’s book The E-Myth Re­vis­ited, which in my naivety seems like a good way to ad­dress the ques­tion of how to avoid be­ing a vic­tim of the stun­ning failure rate of pri­vate busi­nesses. But I re­ally wouldn’t be sur­prised to dis­cover that Ger­ber is just dead wrong and that I don’t have the back­ground needed to un­der­stand that.

So, my ques­tion is: Where can I look to get ra­tio­nal guidance on this? I pre­fer a book or a se­ries or some­thing like that since I don’t have the money to hire a pro­fes­sional yet, and it’s still a bit early to start plunk­ing money down on the seed of a busi­ness idea.

I doubt the na­ture of the busi­ness I’m think­ing of is all that rele­vant since I’m look­ing for pretty ba­sic, gen­eral in­for­ma­tion on mar­ket­ing. But as I could eas­ily be wrong: This is for a school. My hope is to get an al­ter­na­tive high school set up that trains stu­dents to be mean­ingfully ready for the mod­ern world, drop­ping the stuff that’s there purely due to cul­tural mo­men­tum. By and large (but not com­pletely), this means fo­cus­ing on metacog­ni­tive skills rather than pri­mar­ily on sub­ject con­tent. I’m an ed­u­ca­tion re­searcher and know of a num­ber of psy­cholog­i­cal tools that are ex­tremely promis­ing and have proven effec­tive in a wide range of cases but sim­ply haven’t been adopted for use in class­rooms on any rele­vant scale, so part of my work be­tween now and when I start this school is go­ing to be aimed at do­ing re­search to ham­mer out the prag­mat­ics. But that’s the idea in a very tiny nut­shell: use find­ings in psy­chol­ogy and so­ciol­ogy to teach stuff to teenagers that they’ll ac­tu­ally find use­ful through­out their lives and that so­ciety will be glad that they know. I’m in­ter­ested in mak­ing this a busi­ness pri­mar­ily be­cause I need it to provide me with enough of an in­come that I don’t have to dis­tract my­self with some other job in or­der to sup­port my fam­ily.

So: ra­tio­nal mar­ket­ing re­search meth­ods. Any­one have a good di­rec­tion for me?