Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Big Data, only for Big Companies?

I work in the world of small companies. Individual business owners that typically serve the public in the experience of outdoor activities or vacation activities.

Most are small companies employing 1 to 20 employees and doing less than 1 million dollars a year in sales.

So a lot of the hype these days is about  the collection of data and data analytics. Obviously the grocery store is collecting millions of bytes of data about what you purchase, when, why, price points, time, days of the week, etc. As is Amazon collecting and analyzing every possible data point with respect to your buying habits.

But what can at the small Fly Fishing  Guide operation do with the data? A small property management company renting 20 properties in a tiny Colorado town? PLENTY !

Obviously the 1st  step, is to make sure you collecting the data by using a reservation system that collects all the relevant information you need (or want) from your customers. The beauty of a reservation system, is typically, the customer is doing the data entry for you. make sure you have a developer, that add or adjust fields, so you can collect the best data available.

When you have the data (a season, a few months, a year, etc.) you will need a toot to "data mine". Basically, you want some "filters" so you can select or slice you data into useful segments. Again, your developer should be helpful in helping design these filters. An example might be: Select a date range, All customer that came in the month on Aprilthat fished the Rio Grande. This seem so simple, but when you consider that the Rio Grande has a great Cadis Fly hatch in April, then you can select a group of customers, that most likely experienced this event. Now we grab their names and email, and send them an email in late March with an offer to "Book a Guide Trip" now . Imagine you book 10 new trips for April ($3,500) with a simple search of data and direct customer contact?

Another example. We know that customers often want to return to the same property (home, condo, cabin, etc.) they booked during a previous vacation. You look at your reservation for the next upcoming weekend, and notice you have a nice property, that is vacant. So you run a quick data search, and pull the name of every customer, that  stayed in that exact property, in the last 3 years. Now we shorten the list to everybody that stayed there, but is in a 3 hour or less drive radius (zip code data). Now we send them an email, offering 10% if they book today. The result is only a $550 sale. But the process can be done in less than 10 minutes. Not a bad return on 10 minutes of work.

Take control of your business and be a proactive and successful marketer, but data mining your customers data.

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