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16 5 Ways to Make a Database For Your Customers

Standard marketing CRM type practice suggests that you should create and supplement a database of customers and prospects with the idea that you build more and more information to use to help build deeper relationships and create additional selling opportunities.

What if you look at database building as a service you provided for your customers? Now, in some cases that might be a good service offering as a profit center, but I’m talking about providing a service that simply allows you to differentiate your business by adding value in ways that your competitors aren’t even thinking about.


RSS, search technology, and a slew of online apps have made the creation and streaming of database kind of content a pretty simple affair.

Below are some examples of the kind of information this way of thinking might produce.

1. The knowledge database

Create a custom RSS subscription database of blogs and news sites your customers would find interesting, either by virtue of information they provided you or based on an industry they should follow. You can set-up an RSS reader or upload and OPML file to the reader of their choice and magically create a hand crafted set of blogs they should follow. OPML files may sound a little techie, but essentially it’s a list of RSS feeds that can be imported to an RSS reader to create lots of subscriptions at one time.

2. The best of class database

Build a list of best of class service providers that can deliver all the products and services you know your customers may need that are unrelated to your actual offerings. Create a database with all of the contact information and notes about each provider. Offer this to your customers as a service to help them find great companies for everything they buy. This strategic partner kind of database is something you should be building and maintaining for your referral and lead generation activities anyway, but take it a step further and make it a formal offering using a tool like Central Desktop to invite your partners to build and maintain their listings, including monthly specials.

3. The real time roundup database

Create custom social media and reputation monitoring databases for your customers that include all brand and competitive mentions in real time streams like Twitter, Facebook, and Media distribution sites and teach your customers how to monitor this database. This may be totally unrelated to your services, but it’s such an essential bit of marketing wisdom that you can create incredible brand loyalty by being the organization that shows them how to do it. Use a tool like Trackur to create your own white label social media monitoring service.

4. The cutting edge B2B database

Create a database of web apps that can help your business customers do more with less using free and low cost tools for things like design, file backup, file storage, file streaming, collaboration, online meetings, CRM, finance and HR. This is another play that can allow your organization to be seen as an online thought leader and go to person for emerging tools. Simply gaining this reputation can open some doors to many other teaching and exposure opportunities in your industry – regardless of what you actually sell. Here’s a nice example – The Freelancer’s Toolset: 100 Web Apps for Everything You Will Possibly Need

5. The reminder database

What if you offered a service that could help remind each customer of important dates? Give them the opportunity to put all the birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates in their lives into a database with the promise to remind them to take action when the date was coming up. Obviously, this is a no brainer if you also have a product or service to offer as something for that date, such as flowers or gifts, but it also works for just about any business as a way to stay top of mind. The heating and cooling service could offer a monthly home maintenance reminder tied to the season and featuring a different partner each month. The key is to provide value and personalization. You might also get some inspiration from LIfeHacker’s Top 10 Reminder Tools for Forgetful Minds

10 Weekend Favs March Thirteen

I have a weekend routine where I share a handful of favorite things I tripped upon online this week. I usually about three and don’t go into much detail but suggest you check them out. The image featured in the post is a favorite creative commons image on Flickr.

Image credit: bender 990

Good stuff I found this week:

Traffic Travis – Free SEO and PPC software. Very powerful tool for analyzing your pages and those of your competitors.

Trackur – Social media monitoring service. I’ve mentioned this tool before because I think it’s a great one. This past week they created a free account so I felt the need to mention that development.

SocialNet Gate – Service that signs you up for multiple social media profiles and offers paid tools to help promote and spread content. It’s a bit pricey but one way to outsource some of this activity

30 Listening in a Digital Age

ListeningListening to the wants and needs of your markets and customers has always been a good idea. Any good salesperson can tell you the benefits of listening – if you do it right the prospect will always reveal how to get the sale.

In today’s rapidly shifting business environment listening is one of the key competitive tactics, but the sheer volume of what’s being said makes it make more complicated exercise. The days of spending a little time down at the barber shop to measure the pulse of the market are long pasted.

Today’s marketing must also employ a powerful set of digital ears to monitor and engage in the millions of conversations going on simultaneously in every corner of town and every corner of the planet.

By setting up filtering, aggregating and alert technology or services you can gain access to real-time conversations about:

  • Your customer’s ongoing experience
  • Any brand/product/CEO mentions
  • Complaints about competing services
  • Inaccurate information about your organization
  • Thoughts and needs of journalists in your industry

The key is to create, either on your own or through a paid service, a dashboard that delivers the conversations surrounding topics of interest right to your inbox or browser as part of your measurement suite of analytics.

Your do it yourself toolbox should include:

  • Google alerts – Google Alerts allows you set-up customer searches for any phase and receive email or RSS alerts any time your phrase shows up in online media, blogs, web pages and news.
  • Search.twitter – For now, monitoring twitter is a separate stream (Google seems to be adding twitter conversations to SERPs) – using the advanced search function allows you set-up very specific searches, even including geographic details. These searches produce RSS feeds and can then be subscribed to.
  • – Similar to Google Alerts, but for twitter. Set-up search phrases and receive notification any time your phrases show up in twitter conversations.
  • – focuses on the most popular bulletin board conversations and can turn up responses that don’t show up anywhere else. Some industries still have very heavy bulletin board use.
  • – Backtype is a search engine of sorts that focuses on blog comments. Blog comments don’t often make it into the mainstream search results so this is a way to listen in on this set of content.
  • Social Mention – this is a mashup search engine of many of the formats of content such as audio and video – I’ve found it a very nice way to turn up some mentions that don’t occur anywhere else.

Many organizations may find that the ability to listen in digitally is so important or so time consuming that they need to employ a paid service to do it. In addition, these services offer countless ways to filter and analyze the data you collect in far greater ways then you might on your own. The greater level of analysis is a great way to spot trends, find opportunities and measure ROI for your online marketing efforts.

Some popular paid services include:

  • Radian6 – Robust set of analytics, relates data in some very cool ways
  • Trackur – advanced set of tools, well worth the cost
  • Buzzlogic – focuses on helping you find key influencers driving conversations.
  • Filtrbox – very easy to use, powerful and low cost

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