Why your database is your most valuable IP

Our CEO Sharon Williams outlines why your database is so important to your business in her latest contributed article for Dynamic Business. Click here to see the full article, or read below.

I’ve been a business mentor for a while now and yet it never ceases to amaze me how often company’s either ignore or underrate their database. From my own experience, I’m acutely aware of just how important it is for a company to maintain accurate and up-to-date intel on the people in their network.

In my opinion, a company’s database not only play a crucial role in their success, it’s the single most important asset they own. If you have started a business or you work for a company, your personal database remains your very own intellectual property. It is unique to you and should be protected and nurtured. After all, if all goes belly up in your business or your career – heeding a few privacy opt-in or employment laws – you can open up tomorrow and transact with all those who already know, value and trust you. In my marketing agency, we make maintaining the database an accountable and KPI’d function – something we even celebrate as a business objective when we hit numerical and quality milestones.

Today’s climate is more unstable than ever. Note changes in the economic and political landscape and the rise of industry disruptors like Uber and AirTasker. Exciting, challenging times. So if you have spent time and money building trust with a range of individuals, it is more timely than ever to focus on communicating with those who are likely to buy from you or value your opinion. Invest in keeping your contacts up to date: hire that graduate, take on a database administrator or outsource it to specialists.

When I started out, I filed my collection of business cards in a rolodex. I still have a yearning to hang on to business cards!  It summarised my own relationships, the people who liked and valued me and who I had served well in business and enjoyed successful interactions with. I remember even recording details by hand onto index cards.

Today, software packages and cloud systems are where the most updated database services are.  The cloud makes it straightforward and competition is fierce with providers such as Zoho, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM and HubSpot. But do your research and beware: the costs can blow out disproportionately if you intend to grow. Read into licensing models and cost per user to protect yourself. And if you change providers, the data almost always has to be reverted back to good old excel spreadsheets. Of course, the payback of making your database life easy is multi-fold and quite simply a game changer!

Using modern database software means communications with thousands of warm contacts is simply at your fingertips! Connect with them  via special offers, electronic marketing newsletters and links to your digital presence – so that enquirers quite literally start to see you everywhere. But none of this is possible if you are not collecting the information carefully.

As far as I’m concerned marketing has always and will always be about ‘touchpoints’. The tools may change and evolve – that’s what keeps our life as marketers interesting – but marketing is still about touching base frequently with those who may be interested in your product or service. The more you are in front of them, the more likely it is they will recognise you, refer you and ultimately buy from you.

It is vital that these touch points are relevant and timely. But no relevant and timely campaigns are successful if they aren’t going to an accurate name and contact – so who at your company is tasked with ensuring this information is accurate? I don’t believe it should be left to the sales team – KPI everyone and have your finger on the pulse!

Make quality database maintenance and growth an accountable process. Separate and segment the database in a way that works for you best. When times get tough the smart get marketing – so clean up that database and get contacting!

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