Even when the numbers reveal that there is much more revenue and jobs being generated via small businesses, the bulk of media attention is always centered on big business.
We have been conditioned to think big is always better. Never has this line of thinking been more prevalent than in the use of customer information. Huge data warehouses hold terabytes of company information to be queried by decision makers.
However more data does not mean better intelligence. False conclusions can easily be reached when the users of information do not know their customers.
In one case a huge car manufacturer found through its data warehouse that a certain color sedan was outselling all other colors in multiple locations. This information was quickly acted upon and resulting in an increase in the production of the popular colored sedan.
At first glance this was touted as a huge success. But on further investigation it was learned that because of extremely poor sales certain colored sedans were being highly discounted to move them off the lot!
When companies view data superficially (without digging deeper into the underlying circumstances) they leave themselves open to false assumptions.
Data should never be viewed as the ultimate answer but rather a starting point for more meaningful questions. The real challenge is to get past the text book answer that the customer information is telling you and get to "why has this happened".
o What did we do right (or wrong) to cause a change?
o What has changed in the equation?
o How did everyone feel one month or two months or six months after the fact? Was it still right?
Customer data should always be reviewed but the value is the investigation as to its underlying cause. While changes in customer behavior can often be attributed to uncontrollable factors (such as customers moving or businesses closing or a one time event), they can also reveal a change that may escalate.
Because it is much easier to access, small business customer information is just as useful as giant data warehouses (often much more).
An added benefit to the small business is the fact that a large corporation must be very sure of their business intelligence before they roll out a high risk project. A small company can try several different initiatives with much less risk. Therefore they have a much greater chance of hitting a home run.
CEOs and upper management know that marketing to customers is a key channel strategy that can positively impact the bottom line. Unfortunately, many organizations do not execute this area very well and fail to effectively market to clients after the initial sale. Instead, most businesses spend significant resources in building traditional sales organizations searching for new prospects to close business.
When done correctly, customer marketing can generate new opportunities, repeat business and add revenue to the bottom line. Large and small businesses depend on their customer relationship strategies to retain long term customers, but not all companies utilize their customer base for new marketing and sales opportunities.
With the help of Customer management systems, companies can track every customer touch point from sales, delivery and into post sales support. These tools can be instrumental in helping to develop targeted marketing programs and channel strategies for new product lines and services. This can create "Starburst Opportunities" that can add value to the client and increase revenue for the company, a true win/win situation.
Because customer information is already available, and the rapport already established, this approach can be a much more profitable sales channel. Your marketing dollars needed to sell to an existing customer can be far less expensive than trying to sell to new prospects through traditional methods. Customer marketing is not a new concept, but is not explored as much as it could be.
In summary, marketing to customers is like picking low hanging fruit and a sound strategy to employ. In addition, if your organization utilizes a customer relationship management system, you have a repository of customer marketing data that can be leveraged to create drive new business to existing clients.