Show Me the Data

showmethedata

One of the top box office hits of the 90’s was Jerry Maguire. It featured Tom Cruise as a struggling sports agent, whose life-altering epiphany changed his business philosophy, and left him with only one remaining client, Rod Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding Jr.  

For Maguire to remain Tidwell’s agent, he had to prove his worth...and Tidwell measured that worth by how much money his agent could procure for him. In what would become one of the most iconic movie scenes of our generation, Tidwell implored Maguire to scream “show me the money, SHOW ME THE MONEY!” as Tidwell danced around his kitchen on the phone.

For several years on the wall behind a client’s desk, he had a depiction of the same scene but showing two guys holding spreadsheets and dancing around an office. Below it was the caption “Show Me the Data!” Marketing nerds…we’ll chuckle at anything.

This over-rated wall décor also highlighted an often-overlooked problem that affects small businesses every day...they collect no data. What is data, anyway? Our old friend Webster tells us that data is merely “facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.”  

Dude. We’re willing to bet when you read that definition, you used your dullest, most monotone inner voice...one with no inflection or excitement. Perhaps this is why we don’t collect it. It’s boring. It’s gray. It’s drab. It’s, well...data. But we’re willing to wager if old Webster had penned “DATA is all about mo’ MONEY, mo’ MONEY, mo’ MONEY, Honey!” you’d say it with a little more gusto, wouldn’t you? Of course, you would...in fact, you just did.

If for whatever reason you don’t believe data equals money, consider that Amazon has over 40 data storage centers worldwide, housing millions of servers trained to measure, capture, and record every customer's purchase, shoe size, mouse click, and sometimes even eye movement.  Google has 20. Walmart, at least a dozen.

These are warehouses that could hold a dozen football fields, and are connected by millions of miles of fiber optic cable…full of nothing but data. No inventory, no employees, no bathrooms…just data. About you. Not to sound too Orwellian, but these companies know more about you than your spouse of 27 years (and we sure hope their security is top notch, don’t we?).

But the reason they collect and store gabillions of bytes of your personal data isn’t to hold you hostage over that movie you may (or may not have) inadvertently rented 20 years ago, while Honey Bunch was away at a quilting conference in Myrtle Beach...it’s because they want to know what you need BEFORE you know what you need. After all, that’s long been the holy grail of marketing, right? To know what the customer wants, and then serve it to him on a silver platter? You’re thinking this sounds downright 21st century, huh? Well it should...we’re 17 years into it, Pops.

So, what does that mean for you, the small business owner? Basic data collection has virtually no limits, and to borrow a cliché from our public relations friends, “there’s no such thing as bad data.” You may not be aware, but you have tons of data at your fingertips every day.  

Are you collecting customer emails for a monthly newsletter? Have you engaged your fans on social media with a fun survey campaign? Have you worked with your credit card processor to obtain customer mailing addresses? Have you installed a rewards program to see what people are buying and follow their seasonal trends?  

Data collection can be as complex as pulling website IP locations for your online visitors or as simple as a sign-up pad at the register for customer comments. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be...but collect it. Anything is better than nothing.

What do you do with data once you have it? Short answer: Everything. From targeting your advertising to picking your spring sandal assortment, data should drive every aspect of your business.

Unfortunately, most small business owners simply don’t have time to pour over spreadsheets or the financial resources to add a full scale, soup-to-nuts marketing department. While the entire process can be daunting and a bit time consuming, there’s no need to forge it alone.

Partnering with a local marketing team that can collect, analyze, and put your data to work is a can’t-miss, low-cost alternative to help get a leg up on the competition and drive sales quickly and efficiently. Let a professional help you target the right audience with the right products based off info you collect each day. In short, let them “show you the money.”