What “Cat” is That?

Categories Make it Easy

I’m confused! I have all these customers, but which ones should be getting the Product A Newsletter and which ones get the Product B newsletter? Do I have to go back through all the invoices to work out which is which? That’s an awfully big job!

This person is confronted by an ocean of data and they can’t figure out how it all fits together. Something that will make life a lot easier for them is to categorise the companies in the database. Here are some examples:

Company Type: If you have all the companies you deal with in the same database that’s really good, because you don’t have to go to one place to find suppliers and another place to find customers, for instance. You should therefore have a “Company Type” selection with categories like:

  • Lead
  • Prospect
  • Customer
  • Supplier

If you select one of those categories, that’s all you see in your list. So, if you want to look at just Customers, you can.

Supplier Type: Take this a step further – bring up a list of Suppliers. But now let’s have a sub-category under the Company Type cat that only shows up when you select Supplier as the Company Type. The Sub Cat would be a list of what the suppliers provide for us. You only want to look at the printers we have used? Select Printers as the sub-cat and the list comes down to Suppliers who do printing.

Company Source: Maybe you do trade shows, or exhibitions, as a means of promoting your products or services. You might also do direct mail, advertising, or email marketing. Whatever methods you use, it makes good marketing sense to be able to track where you are getting your Customers from. If you are spending $25,000 a year participating in exhibitions and you are only getting two customers a year from that (worth a total of only $5,000 profit), I think you’d like to know that. So, you could tag each customer with the event or activity that brought them into your world; the Customer Source:

  • Exhibitions
  • Direct Mail
  • Advertising
  • Website

Product Category: Now, to solve the problem that the person was faced with in the first paragraph (which newsletter do they get), you could have a category that shows what products or services the company buys from us. You could even set this one up to take multiple categories. If the customer buys two different types of products from you, you should be able to flag both of them. They would therefore get two newsletters (assuming you have a different newsletter for each product, in this example).

Location Category: This is just another way of saying their “address”, of course. But, if done right, you could set it up to sort by State, City/suburb, or Postcode. And you could also set up areas or regions that would make it easier for your sales people to plan their sales calls – keeping them focused on a reasonably close geographic area to save travel time between sales meetings.

There are many other variations on this theme. The great thing about a well-constructed database is that it is customisable in all sorts of ways. There is almost no limit. You can add and expand categories as often as you like. It all depends on what you want it to do.

(Return to Database Tips)