Best intentions are a tough thing in the data field.
Let me highlight something… Our industry attracts results-driven people.
Yes, we like to get into the weeds of data and statistics, and see our algorithm churn out interesting findings.
But the pinnacle enjoyment of what we do is when our clients take the work that we’ve done, and use it to succeed in the real world.
That’s the end goal, and if it doesn’t happen, then what does all the behind-the-scenes work matter for?
Unfortunately, making that transition from analyzed data into real world action often falls victim to best intentions – particularly as it relates to small-to-mid sized businesses.
The big guys? The Amazons, Targets and Facebook? Their business models are completely driven by data. They invest billions in ensuring it.
The beauty is… We can do what they do, for smaller businesses.
And we know that smaller, growing businesses want to do it.
And we know that smaller, growing businesses know they need to do it.
So, where’s the hiccup?
From what we’ve seen, the challenge is the first step – literally spending the time learning how and why getting good data and good analysis, and then using it, will change the future of your company or organization.
It’s easy to purchase a list for sales calls, fundraising or marketing.
But putting that list to good use sometimes is an uphill climb.
Data Training and the Robot Training Academy
A few years back, rel8ed kicked off what we call our Robot Training Academy.
This program engages high school and college students in a six-week program where they get to work on actual, real-world data challenges, in search of solutions.
We bill the program, which we’ve run in multiple markets now, as their opportunity to experience “a day in the life of a data professional.”
We work with real companies to get their challenges and opportunities, and then put them to the students – who have done magnificent work, by the way.
For us, this is training the next generation of data analysts, and we’re thrilled to see where some of our RTA alumni have gone with their skills.
Data analytics is a way of life now if you want to be successful in business, and that’s not going to go away.
We’re proud of our graduates, and are pleased to be a part helping to create a stronger knowledge base in the data marketplace.
That being said… The need for this kind of analysis is now.
So, we focus heavily on training our clients, as well.
None of us want to sell data, or provide access to our proprietary algorithm and platform, DiligenceTM, and see it not yield outstanding results.
It’s in our best interest that when a client signs on to use our services, they are educated, motivated and ready to do something great with them.
We believe that’s a different kind of approach than you’ll get elsewhere in the marketplace, but we also believe that it’s important – and will become more so in the future.
So… You’ve seen the writing on the wall, and know you need to get into the data game for your next phase of growth.
Let’s get you started on the right note with some easy suggestions:
Tip #1 – Know What You’re Looking to Accomplish Before Purchasing Data
Every conversation we have with a prospective client begins with this question: “What are you looking to accomplish?”
Data algorithms and artificial intelligence are getting better, smarter and stronger every day… But as of today, you still have to plug in a goal before setting them to work.
You would be surprised at how many times we ask companies who they’re trying to reach, and the answer is, “Decision-makers.”
Okay… You’ve narrowed the Earth’s population down from 7.753 billion to, like, six billion. Let’s dig deeper.
Figuring out where you’re headed not only will help you optimize your own resources – especially when you think about a data program as utilizing time, money and creative effort – but will help the service provider you’re working with to best point you in the right direction.
This kind of strategic thinking includes your targets (which we’ll talk about in Tip #4), your story, your personnel resources, your modes of communication… Even your time management surrounding the program.
Having these ideas buttoned up before diving into a data program will yield much stronger results in the end.
Will you know everything at the start? Not a chance, because your data provider and your experience in the field will tell you lots more.
But if you’re flying a rocket ship, and your goal is to get to the moon, it’s best to start with your nose pointed in that direction.
Tip #2 – Assign Someone to Take the Lead
We think this goes for any process or project you might have in your company… If someone’s not waking up in the morning thinking, “How can I move this forward today?”, it’s not going to happen.
It’s a simple thing, but often overlooked by data purchasers.
Someone needs to take charge and own the strategy.
We see two important reasons for this:
First, as just stated, someone needs to move the ball down the field.
A committee won’t do it, and without someone being answerable, a database pulled in January often is still sitting there in September with no activity. Maybe an e-mail blast.
Second, and we could argue equally as important, is that the analysis of data doesn’t stop when your data company delivers your list.
Seeing the list in action is a critical part of the initiative’s success.
What’s working? What’s not? What other paths is the list illuminating for you?
This kind of analysis after the analysis can be incredibly fruitful, but if no one is thinking about it, it will never happen.
One caveat, from our experience…
Don’t make a member of your sales team be the one in charge of the data.
Sales manager, yes. Salespeople, no.
Your sales team (if they’re doing their job correctly) won’t have time to take on this role.
Give them the tools they need, and let them sell for you.
Tip #3 – Take Time to Learn the Tools Available
We will be the first to admit that data, and the tools you can use to analyze data, can be overwhelming.
It’s a great time to be in business, because of the data and resources that are available…
And it’s a crazy time to be in business, because of the data and resources that are available.
Don’t give up because it gives you migraines.
Instead, when you purchase data, or start a relationship with a data company, spend some time to sit with them, learn the tools, understand the ins-and-outs, and watch the instructional videos.
It won’t require endless hours of education – but we estimate that dedicating three hours to educating your key people, and then another hour or two to play around with their platform, will provide a good foundation toward getting the most out of the data program you’ve bought into.
Again, this is something that many companies don’t do… They don’t see that time as an important investment of resources, but as pulling key personnel away from other work that needs to be done.
We disagree wholeheartedly.
We say with data, if you’re in, you’re in. Go all the way.
Learn it. Understand it. Use it.
Tip #4 – Don’t Overwhelm Yourself
An extension of Tip #1 above, targeting is a huge piece of the puzzle.
You can always go to a data company and purchase a list of 5,000+ companies and contacts.
Now, if you’re simply doing an e-mail campaign, this may work for you… Though in our experience e-mail campaigns alone aren’t going to get you far.
For most of us, a list of that size is almost insurmountable.
Also, for most of us… We don’t need to talk to 5,000 companies (we’re assuming this blog is being read mostly by small-to-medium sized businesses, and not necessarily the Amazons of the world), so such a list can be overwhelming.
Of course, there are filters and criteria you can build into the list to find who you’re actually looking for, but then why did you purchase so many in the first place?
We are all very busy, and unless you have someone in-house whose actual day-to-day job is data analytics, I can tell you you’re not going to scratch the surface of that huge list.
Better to start with something more manageable, and make the most of it.
This, of course, requires you to do some off-line work, and understand exactly who you’re trying to reach with your products, services, fundraising, messaging, etc.
Going in with a plan will help you not only optimize the list you’ve purchased, but also make the job of utilizing that list much easier and less time-consuming.
Then, the beauty of working with a data analytics company like rel8ed is that we can then take such a list and tell you, “You want to reach these people or companies, but now (for whatever reasons the algorithm spits out) you’ll want to target these related people or companies, as well.”
There are a lot of directions to go from a well thought-out list… But, from our point-of-view, the most important is that your team will actually use it.
We’ve seen it all – and we believe that having seen it all has made our company smarter when it comes to developing real-world solutions based on our data analytics.
When we create a relationship, we bring the resources, because in the end, it’s all about you using our data to succeed.
It’s in our best interests that you learn as much as we can teach you, so that your confidence in using our products and services yields results.
Have you come to the point where you know you need data analytics to take your organization to its next step, but don’t know how to get started? Let’s chat! Get in touch with us.