Should I manage the database or use a bureau service?
The decision to use a bureau will be determined by three things:
The expertise of your personnel, or the personnel you can hire
The computer resources you can afford
The size of the database you plan to create and manage
In most cases a bureau service is best suited to high volumes of data processing - they make their money from the volume of data they process. Bureaus provide a number of services including programming and database design, data entry, updating and maintenance, data scanning of surveys and coupons, deduplication of files against your database, preparation of files for e-mail, mailhouse and telemarketing, data manipulation and analysis, management report production, data enhancement, web-based secure access for the database owner, and consultancy and advice.
Isolate your prospects and customers as individuals and then personally communicate with them on a one-to-one basis;
Identify your most profitable customers and develop the most relevant strategy to keep them;
Invest the right amount of money, at the right time, in the media most appropriate to your customers' needs;
Keep a history of your relationships with your customers so you can continue to make relevant offers to them. It is particularly valuable when new staff join your company and need to understand your relationships with your customers;
Identify the prospects who are most similar to your best customers, to help you build your customer base;
If your database is able to store all your customer transactions, it will give you all the information you need to grow your business profitably.
Every company is different, so you will have to determine what data is relevant to your business when planning what you will keep on file. The basic contact data necessary includes:
First name and Surname
Title or position
Telephone, fax and mobile contact numbers
E-mail address and website
What you hold after this depends on you and your business. Data such as a sales representative territory code, purchase history, media preferences, sales call details, industrial classification, communication history, the products or services the customer currently uses, competitor data, influencers' names etc.
Start your database small and grow gradually. "Ready, Fire, Aim" is a good philosophy when creating a database.
A database is simply a file of relevant data about your customers and prospects. It can hold whatever data you require to maintain communication with your prospects and customers and record a history of that communication.
Your database contains the most valuable part of your company - details about your customers. Remember the reason you are in business - to make and keep customers profitably, so the more you know about your customers, stored in a relevant and retrievable way, the more valuable your business.