Can Solopreneurs Use Big Data?

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Big Data and data mining are buzzwords that have echoed frequently in the business press during the past four or five years. The noise level has caused organizations large and small and even Solopreneurs to feel obligated to collect data from as many customer interactions as possible. Nevertheless, doubts about Big Data remain. All agree that data collection is a useful practice, but leaders are advised to first consider what will be its purpose once in hand.

Many organizations are struggling with how to interpret, optimally utilize and store the copious amounts of customer data now in their possession. Ideally, Big Data will yield information that suggests which of your products and services have the greatest sales potential, guides the creation of marketing messages that will resonate with target customers and promotes and sustains brands.

But what kind of customer information is most relevant to small businesses and Solopreneurs and how much of it do we need? Do Big Data and data mining have any use for the little people?

As illustrated by the exorbitant pricing associated with buying and interpreting the finely grained customer information known as Big Data, the answer is no. Big Data and its tactical twin, data mining, are of most use to big corporations, who use the costly process to acquire information that helps them to design product offers and campaigns destined for millions of current and potential customers.

Still, customer information is necessary for all business operators. Solopreneurs and small business owners are advised to think small and practical and start with an analysis of their client lists. Who has done business with you over the past five years? Who gave you the most billable hours? Who are your repeat customers? What do customers buy from you most often and is there a seasonal aspect?

If you have not done business with a B2B or B2G client in the past two years, is your contact still at the organization and is s/he still in the same position? Are B2C physical and email addresses current? Do your own data mining as you visit company websites and peruse staff lists to confirm email addresses, telephone numbers and job titles.

Data extracted from your client list might give you insight into easy-to-implement customer service adjustments that enhance the customer experience, cause you to re-think your pricing strategy, or reveal unexpected talking points to include in your next email marketing campaign or monthly newsletter. The data might prompt you to reconsider good customers from years past and cause you think about how to win them back. If nothing else, updated customer information will make it easy for you to send out holiday cards to your client list in December and nurture your business relationships, which is an important element of customer retention.

Online customer surveys that are accessible on your website and also emailed to your customer list have the potential to bring in still more actionable data. Create a survey that makes it easy for customers to divulge the information that you want. To achieve the highest rate of participation, pose 5 – 10 simple questions. Solopreneur consultants may also want to send out post-project surveys with the final invoice.

Social media outlets are another excellent source of customer data. Social media have a way of bringing out uncensored thoughts and you might be surprised by what you learn. Are your customers willing to engage with you on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter?

Collecting data from many touch points is potentially useful for every business entity, but what you make of it and do with it are what matters. Solopreneurs and small business owners can use customer data to improve revenue by way of expanding billable hours or sales to current customers; re-establishing business with lapsed customers; new customer acquisition and relationship-building. Small Data can yield big results when properly interpreted and utilized.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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