In my opinion almost all small businesses have a fatal flaw, well perhaps two, in their marketing strategy.
First and foremost of course is not keeping and using a 'marketing' database'.
Here's a great story about how starting a database was integral to a brand new business - Five steps to a multimillion dollar business.
The second is when using that database not having a good communication strategy. You can read The Fatal Flaw here.
I thought this week to illustrate the power of a database. This is a simply story about the owner of Bicton Travel in Perth, Carole Smethurst. Here is Carole's story.
"I started my travel company about seven years ago with two staff members. Today I have seven consultants and I can attribute it all to our customer database and how we work with it. Since we started using the database properly, our business has grown threefold.
About five years ago we decided to put in an industry software database. I figured since we have to enter data when we make bookings for customers, we might as well enter it into a database. We keep information such as their passport numbers, their travel preferences and their club numbers. We have been told innumerable times by our customers that they love coming in, being recognised by us and never having to be asked a second time to supply personal information (like they did repeatedly with other travel agents.) This has helped spread the word of mouth and keeps us growing and growing".
Clever Use of Information
"Silverseas had a luxury cruise departing Singapore that they wanted to fill. One of the fields in my database is travel preference such as deluxe, moderate, economy. I thought why not target this cruise to the right people? I was able to immediately sort through my customers selecting only those who preferred deluxe travel. They would be a prime candidate for an expensive luxury cruise. I then reviewed the list and sent out 24 letters, personally inviting them to look at the cruise brochure (which I enclosed). I wrote in the letter I thought it was something they'd be interested in. 13 of those 24 people booked the cruise."
My guess - over $10,000 income generated to Carole's agency from a $34.80 investment (24 letters at $1.45 postage).
With the right information in a database, you can target the right product and service to the right customers, instead of bombarding everyone with everything. How clever and thoughtful do you think those 24 people thought Carole was?
Wouldn't you prefer dealing with companies that remember you, save you time and are spot on with their information to you?
1. Databases are not just for collecting information. What use is it sitting in the computer on the floor of your office or deep in the company CRM system? You keep customer information to use it. To profit from it. To add to your level of actual and perceived customer service.
2. In terms of succession planning or sale, which business would be worth more to a potential buyer? One that has a well stocked database and can be worked? Or one that doesn't. A database can add substantial value to the goodwill component of your business value. Therefore you benefit twice from maintaining one. As you use it and when you sell the business.
3. Carole saw the opportunity. She had the information in the database. She thought of a clever marketing idea. She targeted successfully. In this day and age like no other, targeting equals success.
4. The database information you keep should be relevant to your customers also, not just you. Do you have customer service and relationship building information? Such as family, employment, job type, industry, age, interests?
5. Finally, but importantly she didn't do it with email did she? There is still a place for the physical. The ability to place the lovely brochure in someone's hand instead of hoping they'll click on it then expecting they'll right click the place where the graphic should be and allow it to download for viewing.