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Don't Eat the Elephant – Tips for Data Driven Marketing and Business Development

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Data driven decision-making is the latest buzzword in the business world and for good reason. The approach demands that organisations make decisions based on hard facts rather than those that are founded on intuition and personal observations.

Given the volume of data that is available today in firms' CRM systems and other repositories around the organisation, many business development and marketing professionals struggle in using this information effectively. However, it is especially important that they are able to utilise such data as often they need to upwardly manage senior partners to make the case for investment in their campaigns and business proposals. The best advise that I can give you is 'don't eat the whole elephant in one go'. Small, incremental steps that are underpinned by business priorities will result in marketing effectiveness and business development success.

Here are some top tips for data driven marketing and business development:

  • Focus on key client data

This of course includes identifying your key clients but drill down to further determine the 'key key' influencers in those businesses. For instance, in the firm's top 15 clients, there may be 300 individuals listed in the CRM system, but in reality, there may only be 15 key decision makers with the authority to grant work to the firm. Focussing business development activities to influence those 15 individuals will likely deliver a higher return on investment. Additionally, look to leverage the passive data management tools in the system to uncover the hidden relationships.

  • Focus on industry sectors

Categorise the key client decision makers into industry sectors so that other relationships in those sectors can be unearthed and nurtured to create additional revenue opportunities. This can enable the marketing and business development departments to think of new creative ideas for industry specific campaigns, showcasing the firm's existing experience and expertise in those sectors.

  • Focus on departments that engage

Often managers complain that they produce all these 'insightful' reports, but the departments and individuals they are created for seldom respond to or engage with the marketing and business development functions. To showcase solid success, focus on departments who see the value in the business intelligence delivered to them and work with them to develop initiatives to meet the larger objectives of the firm. Use those successful programmes to demonstrate value to the wider firm which will help increase the number of departments who want to work with you.

  • Focus on reporting that is vital to the firm

Identify the core marketing and business development activities that underpin the functions' efforts. For instance, if events are a key marketing activity, delve deeper into the related data to ascertain which of the industry events, roundtables, conferences and seminars have delivered the highest return on investment so that participation can be improved in the future. By way of examples, is there a positive/negative correlation between event invitation from partners and attendance? Is there an optimal number of email shots for different types of events? Is there a preferred time of day for events based on historical data for attendees? And so on.

Similarly, reporting on the new business pipeline you have generated is a great way to increase visibility for your Managing Partner. The senior executive can be provided with insight into open opportunities, pipeline value, weighted pipeline and so on, which is invaluable for overall business management. It will also help them to understand the value of the marketing and business development effort.

Another potential report could be departmental performance to date versus target. A ROI analysis of activities can help highlight how well different departments engage with business development and marketing teams. This in turn can trigger improved future involvement.

The emphasis of reporting must be on its narrative – i.e. analysis rather than pure metrics. Also, reports should be meaningful and provide data to support the way a user works. Complex reports will hinder progress rather than expedite it.

If fully embraced and correctly implemented, data driven marketing allows CRM managers, and marketing and business development professionals to genuinely demonstrate the value of their work in a meaningful manner. They will be able to uncover information that supports client retention and growth strategies, use the information to enhance their credibility as well as allow them to focus effort and measure success based on data that they can leverage to build the case for future projects too.

Tags: InterAction

About the Author:


Fiona Jackson has spent over 15 years implementing and working with InterAction in professional services firms, including legal and accountancy. In these in-house roles, supported by InterAction, she managed marketing communications, devised and implemented business development strategies as well as trained and mentored fee earners. She worked closely with internal clients to understand their business processes end-to end and guided them in utilising the 'intelligence' gathered via InterAction to help them be successful at customer relationship management.

Fiona was previously a Client Advisor for five years at LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions; and was often described as "an extension to our business" by her clients. She has now returned to the company to drive an InterAction ‘repositioning’ project for a large London law firm. Fiona is also working with other firms to help them align CRM to wider business development strategies. She specialises in strategic and tactical CRM best practice, and as an expert in devising user adoption strategies, her experience in rolling out and repositioning InterAction as a business tool is proving invaluable to clients.

Fiona is mother to two teenagers, who keep her firmly on her toes. Living in Hertfordshire, she loves walking, is often found obsessing over the latest box set and enjoys all that country pubs have to offer. She also has a spectacular Gin collection of her own. Recently, Fiona has discovered a love for cooking – the varying degrees of success hasn’t stopped her from continuing to giving it a go!

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