When looking for data on your target market and clients it can sometimes be hard for SME’s to find affordable sources of data. However, what you may not know is that there is a huge amount of data out there that is either low cost or sometimes even free! Gaining data is just one of the ways we can gauge whether we know our market better than it knows us.
It’s possible to find the future trends, market size and sometimes you can even get the profitability of the market and your competitors as a gauge of how you are doing. However, in this time of austerity many companies are just trying to survive and “don’t have the time or resources”. What most don’t seem to realise is that this data can provide real insight that will help you to achieve more, spot trends and increase your profitability.
For example, many people will go on Facebook to complain about a company to their friends – a marketing nightmare – but the best companies can identify that a customer has mentioned them and get in contact in order to solve their problem. This not only leaves you with a customer that can be 2/3 times more satisfied with their purchase, but also gets you seen by their friends as a company that genuinely cares.
We are now in a time of the “promiscuous customer” who is willing to go elsewhere if you are not able to offer what they need. This means that every customer becomes important. In order to meet their needs we need to know three things:
- Customer Segment
- Unmet Needs
Armed with this information it is possible to deliver on the customers’ expectations and not get left behind.
The data informing the above can come from a variety of sources, this includes:
- Volunteered: eg. Registrations
- Behaviour: eg. Bill payment patterns
- Attributed: eg. Interviews
- Profile: eg. Geographic/Demographic/Lifestyle
We can also start to think where our current customers fit within a loyalty ladder. This allows us to not only to target them better but also understand their propensity to purchase. The steps on the loyalty ladder are:
- Partner (Most likely to be loyal)
- Prospect (Least likely to be loyal)
Competitors are also one of the many forces at work within a market but competitor analysis is becoming harder to carry out, one way in which this can be done is to use your own “Promiscuous Customers”. It is quite possible that your customers either currently use your competitors or have done in the past. This sets them up to be valuable sources of data – try to gain feedback and find out why they don’t use you exclusively or why they are using you over your competitors. This is a brave move on your businesses behalf but will give you a valuable insight into your customers. Equally customer complains can be a great source of data to find out where you may be lacking.
Another way of finding out information on your competitors is to get hold of company accounts (where available). This will give you a better idea on the inner working of the company and where they are positioning themselves. If this data isn’t available then consider their company PR, blog, and Twitter feed. Are they announcing expansions and new clients? – If so this could be a good indication that the company is doing well.
We hope this helps you to identify some of the low cost and free sources of data that can be used. What other sources do you use to find information?