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Why you shouldn’t really buy data – 9 tips on building your own base of contacts

12th September 2014

The biggest challenge of any business after ensuring existing customers are happy and aware of what you do is acquisition – adding the occasional new customer. Having been trading for just shy of 5 years we have done this quite well. Whether through word of mouth, picking up the phone or meeting people at networking events.

One area we have always struggled with is gathering decent data. Despite copious research and recommendations every data company we have used supply what can only be described pleasantly as duff and outdated information. The excuses I have been given vary from the ridiculous to the just plain brilliant. We have had dead customers on the data, people who had not worked at organisations for years, not to mention organisations that have no relation to the brief given. The refund policy is even better – I’m sure the BBC Watchdog team could spend a couple of hours on this alone.

Now I’m all for various business making money but have no idea how trading standards are not contacted more about people basically selling excel spreadsheets with information that a 10 year old could gather from an old directory or linked in. The data although not always expensive can kill staff morale and cost more in wasted time than doing your own data cleansing.

As an organisation having been bitten more than once we thought we should come up with some tips to help you get your own quality data.

1) Check out LinkedIn

you will find specific people in organisations via a friend of a friend, even more if you join some groups and interact.

2) Try not to burn the bridges

with former colleagues and you never know when an old workmate can come up trumps with the name and number you need.

3) Obviously, check out the company’s website

loads of easy data from the obvious meet us page to news page giving names.

4) Online local newspapers

business pages contain loads of historic news updates with priceless contact names.

5) Facebook

your friends will have friends who know the people you want to know. Company owners are on Facebook too.

6) Although Twitter is an alien platform

for some, a lot of companies are now tweeting and occasionally may let slip the name of the person you want to meet. Just follow the relevant company. (If not sure how, email our Social Media Ninja.)

7) Face to face networking groups

might be time consuming but are a good way to gather information on the people you may want to contact whilst spreading your company message as well.

8) With online networking groups

you don’t even have to join a lot of them to discover loads of contact names and email details. BNI for instance allows you to search its groups just via Google. Hundreds of contact details in your local area in an hour.

9)Attend local exhibitions

or target audience specific ones. You don’t have to exhibit, so this is free and these are great for gathering details instantly plus get your name and face known. (Look at attending the social events that form part of these exhibitions amazing who you will meet. For example you could meet us during Brand Yorkshire Exhibition on 8th October or book a place at our event in Huddersfield on 13th October)

This sounds like loads of work but if each member of your team or company gets their head around a couple of these points you will never need to speak to any data company again. You can even look at the possibility of introducing an apprentice role. The benefits of this are two-fold: experience for the apprentice and also a great way to develop online social media presence at a relatively low cost.

Getting a database of decent quality contacts will improve your marketing and generally this will lead to sales success as well so it’s definitely worth investing some time and money into it. Make it a habit, not a purchase.

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