The U.S. loves small businesses. I would argue that every individual American has at least one small business that they love. These businesses vary in types and varieties. Some individuals will tell you about their favorite local restaurant, they will praise their small farmer’s market or a local coffee and doughnut shop. These small businesses are what modern America was built on. Today it is becoming harder and harder for these businesses grow and thrive.
Here are some questions that concern small business owners.
1. How can we build and manage our data when most of the products are priced way out of reach?
2. What first steps should we take to better our ability to deal with data?
3. Where will my dollars make the largest difference?
While large firms that specialize in data have huge price tags, there are some reasonably priced alternatives for small businesses. Database software is becoming more reasonable in price, in part because of downward pressure coming from MySQL and other open source systems. A business owner can maintain their own database with a small amount of training or find technical contractors who, for a reasonable price, will setup and query databases for any business. In the past there has been one thing missing – good data quality software for the small business. That’s why we helped create Aim-Smart for cleaning and removing duplicates from their existing and incoming data.
In addition to having reliable places to store and manage the data, businesses need effective ways to collect data. Many businesses offer incentives for customers that are willing to share their data. These include email coupons, club memberships that come with discounts, or just offering birthday incentives. Building up your database of customer information is very important. Keeping customers up-to-date with emails and mailers keeps you fresh in their minds and keeps them coming back.
It is a well-known fact in business that maintaining customers is considerably less expensive than finding new ones. Depending on the industry it costs 4-10 times more money to find new customers than to keep existing ones. This means every dollar you spend to maintain contact and better your relationship with your current clients is far more valuable. Having customer data up-to-date is vital to this. Small businesses can find address verification software that is reasonably priced and easy to use. Once they have found an inexpensive database process, they can easily maintain it themselves with minor effort and training. In addition, Aim-Smart offers a National Change of Address service whereby customers can update their customers’ addresses automatically, should they move. This leverages the USPS change of address system (those little cards you fill out when you move so that your mail gets forwarded).
Thanks to new software options and prices small businesses can afford, smaller businesses have greater ability to compete against their larger rivals.