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Connecting through data: Chapter 7 Excerpt. Building bridges.

My absolute favorite type of marketing has to be the "direct" kind. For me, this is one of the few ways I get to connect, well, directly with my prospects and customers.

Via Direct-sales and marketing, you can go beyond just sales to truly understand your customers, industry, and to get the valuable data needed to help you roll out more services your customers will love and improve your current offerings to help drive growth within your organization and beyond.

This article is an excerpt from our soon-to-be-released book, "Connecting through data"

Hopefully, by now, my best efforts to aid you in reimagining the use of sales leads and custom sales data have had some success. As I close things out, I would like to take just a moment to reiterate some of the main points behind this book.

The main reasons I decided to share these thoughts with you in the first place. And what I hope you were able to get in exchange for the cash and efforts taken on your end to procure this title.

The idea is to help you, the entrepreneur or sales professional, find ways - armed with your database of cold leads - to engage in various profit-generating sales and direct-marketing campaigns.

It is my sincere hope that so far, you have been able to ( as a result of analyzing the words on these pages):

  • Gain some insights into how you can connect with audiences, whether via telemarketing, direct-mail campaigns, social media, and more.

  • Get a basic understanding of how to use the various datapoints accessed through your sales leads to help create various scenarios to help you target the right folks for your products and services

  • Extrapolate some dynamic ideas and concepts to help you succinctly create customer or audience profiles to help you streamline your marketing dollars.

  • Learn a few tips and tricks to help you drive sales growth via the strategic use of the various social media platforms out there.

On the hook

So, now, let's address some of the various topics I feel are helpful or will be instrumental in your quest to grow your business or client list via direct-sales and marketing. I truly believe that no organization can grow, I am talking 10x, without a truly holistic paid advertising infrastructure. I mean this.

I would encourage you ( if you are one of those types of entrepreneurs) to jettison any notions that you can acquire a steady stream of paying customers without having to dedicate some time, effort, and cash to the construction of a truly dynamic, multi-channel marketing system(s).

I meet folks all the time who feel that the only type of marketing appropriate for them is the free kind. The " go bother your friends and family till they buy from you" kind. Sure, this type of plan works if you are doing whatever you are doing as a side hustle.

If that's the case, then posting videos of your products and holding Facebook live sessions for your friends just might be all you need to make some sales here and there. If you are looking to build a large organization, however, even if you are the only employee of your firm at this point, I encourage you to start to map out the various ways you will acquire customers via paid ads or sales, in addition to your various non-paid outreach activities.

A road less traveled

At the outset, you might have to try various types of marketing channels in addition to your direct sales efforts. Create a budget just for this type of A/B testing expedition. Over time, you will be able to zero in on various ways in which you take folks from prospects, site visitors, "just calling to get some information-ers", to paying customers. Regardless of where you start, however, there are a few things to keep in mind.

All about growth

"More" is always the goal. This is a mantra that you should hold dear. The whole point of being in business is to build an entity that creates and/or sells stuff that folks enjoy, need, want, or find valuable enough to pay for. Even if you are in the non-profit or political realm, you are still selling something to folks. What you are selling might not be as tangible as say, selling scented candles or cups of coffee.

This doesn’t make what you are offering folks any less impactful. We sometimes sell hope, feeling of well-being, and so on. In either case, you must first seek to find a few folks who are willing to listen to what you have to say and even pay for what you have to offer, either through direct purchases or via donations, and sometimes both. The next natural step will be to know more about those who bought from you so you can go out there and find others like them.

You may even try to improve your offering to specifically meet the needs of those who are more likely to buy from you. You may also try to find ways to meet other relevant needs of your core customers. You might go out and acquire another company that offers other things – products and services- your customers buy. This kind of business strategy is what led Amazon to buy Whole Foods Market, the specialty grocer, for $13.4 billion in 2017.

Customers at a Whole Foods Market in Midtown Manhattan.Credit...John Taggart for The New York Times

There are various overlapping factors between the two organizations, not to mention the wide array of synergies between both firms. You may even, sometimes launch entirely new products and divisions within your organization just to meet the peripheral needs of your customers. Either way, the goal associated with all these maneuvers is “more”, right? Selling more stuff to more people, finding more donors, improving more lives, offering more value.

I bring this point up to help you understand that although being a “Small Business Owner” sounds great for your public relations efforts, truth be told, small businesses don’t live that long.

I mean… look around your neighborhood. How many small businesses have disappeared over the years? You probably haven’t even noticed some of the mom and pop operations that have just ceased to exist, on your street, on your drive to work, at the mall, and so forth. Small businesses fail every day, and no one notices.

However, if the Walmart down the street were to close, that will catch most folks’ collective attention. This is because Bentonville, Arkansas-based value seller is a large firm that employs thousands of folks in the cities and towns they operate.

Closing a location is rare and would signal a larger economic issue. Not to mention the specific adverse impact such an event would have on the folks in the community who - in one way or another - depend on the store and the organization as a whole.

As a business owner, your goal must be to grow your business. Among the many reasons I can name, let me say businesses, sales, growth, tend to stay stagnant. That is unless the owner dedicates themselves to growing that sucker. This is what you must do.

I leave you with this

You must always find ways to sell more, make more, grow, grow, grow. At our firm, we try to find ways to add 10% in revenue every year while eliminating any non-performing assets we may have. We are constantly looking for ways to streamline our marketing efforts and entire business operations. We try to cut cost when we can. We are constantly looking to attract more customers.

And we are often able to plan and execute on our sales and marketing goals by:

Planning - We schedule times during the year and at the end of each year to meet to run through a few ideas we think can help improve the ways in which we do business. We try to focus mostly on our sales operation since we are basically a sales-oriented organization. We also plan ways to improve some of our in-house offerings such as our software products.

Trying new things - I especially love trying out new things. I try to test out any new sales tool or advertising platform I hear about in the news. Over the last year, I have launched many test ads on platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, and TikTok. I am always testing out new ways to improve our business and when I find something that works, after months or measuring success rates, I will often bring it to my team. We will then take the steps needed to scale our investments in said tool and find ways to incorporate it into our processes.

Listening to our customers - This is pretty self-explanatory and I have talked a bit about this point in this book and many others I have written. Creating systems around taking in feedback and utilizing the feedback obtained to improve your existing operation and to create new products for your customers should not be overlooked. This is one of the most robust and potent mechanisms through which you can grow your business. Make time and create systems to take in feedback from your customers, partners, and all major stakeholders in your business.

Data-oriented - I love data. I love using the intel and data obtained either from long-legged research and studies or from business operations to improve our business. I spend hours each week consuming, processing, and drawing conclusions from all kinds of data. I try to find ways to grow our various businesses by analyzing all kinds of data. Clearly, I am not the only one who thinks this way.

The Palantir non-IPO: 5 things to know about the (formerly) secretive software company’s direct listing

We saw two data-oriented firms launch very successful initial public offerings this year. Wall Street and the business community as a whole gave both Snowflake and Palantir a warm welcome in 2020. Palantir, the big cloud data analytics firm founded by Peter Thiel, is up over 50% since its IPO.


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