A name, address and phone are not enough for marketing and sales purposes. And, most of what’s missing belongs in fields, rather than notes. But for too many organizations the challenge to do much better gets the better of them!
Your organization’s house file, its database of prospects and customers, is one of its most valuable assets. It can be much more valuable if you give it the attention and effort to improve and maintain it!
Say for example that you market to other businesses. A simple analysis of your firm’s database may reveal many significant issues with your house database including but not limited to:
- Inaccurate and Out-of-Date Information – Incomplete and incorrect company and contact information is too common. To make matters worse, B2B contact information changes approximately every 2 years. Therefore, on average, contact information is likely to be out of date if it hasn’t been verified within two years.
- Lack of Complete Contact Information – Missing details regarding contacts themselves such as titles, phone extensions, emails, faxes, merge codes that differentiate contacts based on whether they are decision makers, influencers, and other roles that you must target in your sales and marketing processes.
- Missing Target Data – Facts that are used to segment your database in order to target campaigns, analyze the market, qualify the prospect, etc. are lacking. This may be demographic information or specific facts about their operation and needs.
- Major Milestones – Failure to record key dates and other details that should have been recorded along the way in the relationship, e.g. creation dates, start, end, and renewal dates, approval dates, etc.
- Transactional Data – Information on purchases, returns, credit information, etc. that can be useful for sales, marketing and service purposes.
There are a variety of reasons why organizations fail to have this information in their database. Beginning with – they never thought about doing so – all the way up to people who don’t enter the information as instructed to.
The solution begins here …
Albeit you may have some technical hurdles to overcome, but for the most part there are enough ways to store the information. Usually, I find the problem has less to do with technology and more to do with best practices. However, if you fail to put enough forethought into your needs and uses for the information, you can expect poor results with capturing data.
The real problem begins and ends here …
Assuming you’ve got a properly designed database, then it’s a matter of adding to and maintaining it. Here’s where it gets especially difficult because you have people involved — people who have to be trained, and reminded again and again to ask for and enter the right information.
This problem has to be met like any management challenge! Procedures must be planned and documented. People need training and ongoing reinforcement. Results have to be measured and the findings used/shared to provide feedback. Take advantage of techniques that have worked well in other organizations with their databases.
There are rewards for overcoming the challenge …
In conclusion, marketing depends on good data. Most direct marketing strategies and tactics rely on a database to target and deliver relevant and compelling messages. Your marketing success begins and ends with your ability to effectively use your database. The quality of your database and your skillful use of it is as much a key to your success, and a competitive advantage or disadvantage, as any other aspect of your firm. Even more so!