Here is a great tip for enhancing your marketing database to make it more workable and accessible for you; and to help add more value to your customers.

The tip? CATEGORISE!!!! Well that's what it is called in Outlook. It's Groups in Gmail and Mac Mail. I'll explain these in a moment. But first - what if you're using Excel?

In Excel, thou shalt not sheet. In other words, don't have a different column; or a different worksheet for your variables. By this I mean different sheets for your business by region. Or in one workbook- having one column for customers, a column for prospects, a column for old clients and a column for suppliers.

The right way to do it in Excel is to have one column allocated and called Customer Type (for example). All the different variables are then used within that one column such as customer, old customer, prospect, supplier. What if one person fits several categories? No problem, write them in and separate by a comma.

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When you need to see or communicate with a specific type - for example you want to see all the prospects listed, you simply filter the entire list looking for the word prospect and you'll get all your prospects including those that have several categories assigned to them.

If you keep your information in Outlook Contacts, one of the least-known functions is Categories - a keyword or phrase that you can assign to a contact.

Better yet, you can assign multiple categories to each contact. It's the same with Gmail and MacMail- but the terminology is different - it's called groups.

Categories/groups are utterly brilliant in many ways. Why? Because you can finely target specific customers. By creating industry, occupation, interest, purchase, service categories, for example, all you need to do is sort by category.

How do I create a category?
Outlook: Open any Outlook contact. Across the top ribbon you'll see a multicoloured box called Categorization. Click it open; click New and enter your category name and assisgn it a colour. To view your contacts grouped by categories, go to View, Current View, then Categories.

Gmail: You'll see a little icon with a head or several heads. Select that and enter your new group.