Friday, 31 August 2007

Business Information Can Make You Money

SMEs often have a significant amount of customer and supplier information, but find it difficult to put it to use, to add value to their business.

There are some strategic actions they can take, looking in turn at top 10 cost and revenue figures.

Take marketing spend for example. Does the business know who their best customers are, and who are growing in spending profile ? Which advertising channel has the highest returns, in terms of customers who stay long term, and build a spending profile.

Like as not this information is all available, in accounts and in mailing lists, but how to analyse it all and give a precise and complete picture of which customers matter most to a company ?

Is it possible to ask customers what their preferences are through a succinct, easy to manage questionnaire ? Can this information be put to use to determine company strategy and direction regarding products, services and target customers ?

How effective is the corporate website ? Does it get a clear and unique message across to would-be clients about the company, what it does and why that benefits clients ?

On the cost side, can mailing and printing costs be reduced ? Are there other ways to reach customers such as ezines which would actually be better at keeping them in touch ?

Looking at a small workforce, where is their time spent, and where might it be spent to add more value to business turnover ?

Our resident business consultant, Peter Jones, of Blue Oyster Innovation, says that most business owners would benefit from a short introductory chat lasting no more than one hour, reviewing their business from the perspective of the top 10 costs and revenues. Any business consultant can use this to assess where savings and additional revenue can be made, and whether working with them will actually benefit the business over the course of a financial year.

The technology to analyse business information is already available, and can be applied readily to standard format business information. Business managers need to grasp the nettle, take time off from the daily battle ground, and find out whether a small short term investment would pay dividends in the longer term.

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