As published on Forbes.com
The Latest Tools To Discover Customers And Competitors
What if you had all of the latest information about your customer right at your fingertips? You would know if they had just raised some money, if they got in hot water over a problem that you happen to excel at solving, or if they just opened or closed a facility. Imagine if you could have similar insight about your competition. I’ve been fortunate to speak with some industry experts about some of the latest tools to discover valuable information about customers and competitors.
The Latest Competitive Information Delivered
Staying on top of the latest with your competition and customers can be the difference between being proactive or reactive – being in-the-know, or uninformed. Jim Fowler is the CEO of Owler. An industry veteran, Jim was the founder of Jigsaw, a company he sold to Salesforce in 2010. Jim pioneered the notion of crowdsourcing to capture a ton of data to give professionals insight to contact their potential customers. “Crowdsourcing is people working together to solve a common problem,” says Fowler. Their platform, Owler.com, delivers competitive intelligence to your inbox.
The alternative would be to subscribe to every piece of content your customers and competitors produce. If you subscribe to each site, your inbox could be overloaded. You might also not want your competitor to know that you are tracking their activities. Owler allows you to enter a company name and have the system automatically pull a Snapshot including financial data, announcements, blog posts, and industry news about that organization from a myriad of sources. They package this into a single email digest.
Pulling on Jim’s history of crowdsourcing, Jim also explained that users can post private information about companies to give insight into private companies. The combination of private information and public sources provides a comprehensive summary for you to make better business decisions and evaluate opportunities. Best of all, you can get Owler for free.
Spam Is Out, Predictive Campaigns Are Hot
I also spoke with John Bara, an industry icon in the Silicon Valley, who has worked with some of the fastest growth companies on the planet. John and I discussed innovative new trends that change the landscape for marketing and sales. “Marketers have been in the never-ending business of gathering data,” said Bara. “Salespeople say they need leads. Marketing spends money on a variety of campaigns and hands off leads to sales. Sales then says they are bad leads. Sales, marketing, and the finance department are all disappointed.” John and I discussed innovative new trends that change the landscape for marketing and sales.
Marketers used to capture information from a potential customer by filling out a paper form at a tradeshow. That then evolved into digital capture. John explained that the information that used to be collected centered around location, size, number of employees, and other demographic pieces of data. The real value, however, comes from situation information. It’s probably more valuable to know the types of employees a company is hiring than it is to know how many employees they have.
When you start capturing customer patterns about their situations, you can predict needs and target sales with market indicators to approach the right customer at the right time. “Predictive analytics is the next wave of intelligence… and this allows you to provide greater value to your customers,” adds Bara.
New trends use data to tailor the experience for the customer. John explains, “Customers and prospective customers don’t want to be sold, they want to be educated. This means creating valuable content… Ultimately, customers want to feel safe about their investment.”
Just Like Amazon And Netflix
Data can help to match prospective customers with potential sales. If you have ever used Amazon and Netflix, you receive suggestions about other products that might be a fit for you based on your customer DNA. Mintigo spots customer trends and behavior to uncover customer situations that might be a good fit for your products or services. Businesses can now narrow focus to the customers who are most likely to be receptive to what you have to offer.
Rather than movie genre or category of product, Mintigo might look at the job titles of who a company is hiring, which technologies they are using, which certifications they pursue, how much a company is spending on different products, or even how much they are spending on Google Ads. These and many other data points might paint a picture of your ideal customer DNA. With the right information, you’ll have insight to spot patterns to uncover the best potential customers.
You can also enter a free beta for Mintigo to test drive the product and see how it works.
Start With Something
If your competition is using these tools and you are not, what does that mean for you and your business? Old school methods of spam and just playing the numbers game are being displaced by innovative new technologies that give savvy businesspeople tools to outpace the competition. Seek out these tools and others to help stay a step ahead. I’ll continue to review other tools periodically. I have a couple exciting ones already in the works.
It’s Your Turn
How do you respond when you receive a call from an uninformed salesperson? How do you react differently when the salesperson obviously has done their homework?