Customer surveys.Supplier feedback. Sale charts. You know that it’s important to track data, so there’s probably no dearth of business data available to you. However, how you use that data to make progress in your company is more difficult than simply gathering it. Part of business intelligence — you can see this website to learn about an onlinemasters degree in this subject — is learning to become a more analytical and critical thinker. Focus on the most important data by following a few simple guidelines. Use the information to improve your business marketing and discover new ways to accomplish your business goals.
Analyze the Industry
Even though you’re probably overwhelmed by the sheer amount of business data you’ve gathered, prepare to add more data to your collection. What’s more important than looking at your data, explains the U.S. Small Business Administration, is seeing how it compares to other data.Both the available data from the competitionand free government market data can help you get a better overall picture of the industry.
Start at the U.S. Census Bureau. Population statistics will help you get a better picture of the age, race and gender of people in specific areas. When you notice your product or services are selling well in a specific area, you’ll have a good idea of the type of average customer who enjoys your offerings. Next, use a competitive benchmarking tool online to get the average statistics for businesses in your industry. Compare your data to the national or global averages.
Tailor Your Analysis
Once you’ve collected all of the data, figure out how to effectively analyze it. Ask yourself questions tailored to your business or general industry, questions such as:
- What areas of the region, country or world does our product or service sell best? Where is it selling not as well, even despite marketing efforts in the area?
- What specific product or service is selling well? Which is selling the poorest? What might explain these differences? (Price, fulfilling a need, innovation, etc.)
- Who’s buying our product or service the most? How old are they on average and what gender are they?
- What times of the year, if any, do our products sell best?
- Has any spike in sales been tied to a push in marketing?
- What’s the status of the industry? Are we selling as well, better or worse than our competitors?
The most important point to take away from your business data analysis is your target market. Build on an existing target market or identify a market largely ignored by the rest of the industry that you think would enjoy your product or service.
Focus on Your Target Market
If your product or service is selling well, find out who’s buying it. While you can —and should — identify any gaps in the industry and market to people the competitors are ignoring, don’t abandon your current demographic if you hope to enact real growth. For example, if you originally hoped your app would sell to 20somethings and teens but have found that it’s surprisingly popular with senior citizens — a corner of the market similar apps aren’t being targeted at — pursue both markets, but focus more on the senior citizens because they’ve been your best customers.
Before you get too far into your new marketing campaign, ask yourself whether or not there’s a niche in a particular demographic where the data is showing even stronger sales. For example, are senior citizen women buying your app more than men? Are senior citizens in retirement homes more likely to spread word of mouth than those in their own homes? The more detailed your research, the better you can focus on your target market.
You’ll be surprised how clearly the business data you’ve accumulated can speak to you, if you “ask it” the right questions. Knowing how to analyze the data is a harder skill to master than you may think, but following these basic guidelines will make a real difference in the way you approach data analysis. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to hire professional consultants to teach you how to make sense out of your data.
About the Author: Lewis Reynolds is a public speaker and small-business owner. He consults for a variety of businesses as a data analyst andcredits his graduate degree for his success.