Read anything offering marketing tips and you will be encouraged to learn who your customers are. You want to understand the demographic make-up as well as their likes and dislikes and, of course, what they buy.
Yet, so often that is the end of the effort.
Getting the data can be done with registration information, sales receipts, and even contest applications. You can also ask simple questions, “how can I help you?” or “did you find what you wanted?” It may also come from asking what they like about shopping in your store. And then there are short surveys, a comment box, online engagement polls, etc.
So getting the data is not usually the problem.
Yet, how often do we take the time to dig into the data and look for clues to help us run our business. Do you analyze what it means and then make changes on what you found. And do you remember to thank the customer and tell them what has been done because of their help. (I must take a moment of self-confession. I don’t do any of this as much as I should. Time to up my game.)
In my case, doing this blog allows a number of data points to be collected. One such effort is just looking at the number of people who engage with a blog post.
So I decided to look back on my 2016 blog posts for Small Business Survival. For this first effort, I simply wanted to find my top two posts based on the number of people who commented on them. Engagement could have also been likes but I felt people who commented where especially interested in the topic.
The results were:
- Your Small Business Needs a Sign – https://smallbizsurvival.com/2016/07/your-small-business-needs-a-sign.html
- Information Helps Your Small Business Succeed – https://smallbizsurvival.com/2016/06/information-helps-your-small-business-startup-succeed.html
This simple look at the data reinforces survey information that I first gathered in 1996 and at several other points in time. At a broad-brush level, marketing and startup information seem to be of greater interest.
If you look at the second article though, maybe the issue is more of a time management question. It’s important to go deeper than what a quick overview might suggest. This might be a time where additional information is needed – Is it time management that is the issue or do you have some specific startup questions or is it both?
Bottom line, data can move your business forward if (1) you take the time to analyze it; and (2) you act on what you heard.
Thanks for your blog comments, likes, and interactions. They help us focus on what you need. Keep them coming.
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.