Over the last couple of years, talk of data has been all the rage. First big data was the flavor of the week and then small data took the stage. Amidst that, a debate ensued about which is more practical and important. Whatever your opinion, one thing is clear: the information businesses and organizations collect has many uses that are vital to attaining and maintaining success. Before diving into applying data, we recommend a few simple lessons to become data-minded.

Start Small. Sometimes the amount of data is so much that you don’t know where to begin. Rather than giving up on it, take small steps in approaching the data. For example, take a look at some past successes and look at what factors made it happen. This can serve as a benchmark for using statistics as a guide for future projects and sales campaigns.

Quantify what you do. If you can define your success in numbers, the data you collect can measure your progress. For example, if your goal is to enlist a certain amount of new customers per year , data collected from the last 2 years of customer acquisition can serve as a guide to reaching that goal. You can also see how your business reached these new customers and increase investment into them and away from those that didn’t yield much return.

Invest in technology and human resources. It is necessary to think of technology as a tool to build your capacity to efficiently collect and analyze your data. It can help you acquire more customers, build better relationships with your client base and in your local community. However, technology can’t be invested into on its own. It needs the right people to put it to good use. If your company doesn’t have someone who knows how to use data measuring tools such as Google Analytics, it’s time to bring someone on board who can. They could be a full-time worker, a consultant, or even an intern. Regardless of who takes up these responsibilities, make sure they work with everyone on staff to stress the importance of data and how to use the technology that allows you to measure it.

Change the culture. If you see data measurement as useful, you must lead the cause to make everyone see a need for change. You must stress the value of data measurement in everything from reaching goals and tracking new customer acquisition to understanding your reach in your community. Begin with a bottom-up approach by convincing your employees on the front lines to collect information on your clients and prospects and help them understand the need for measurable facts to answer such questions as “what sales and marketing practices are contributing most to sales.”

Stay tuned to our blog next week for Part 2: Using Data as a Tool to Drive Business!

Image courtesy of Dave Dugdale/Flickr.

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