Standard marketing CRM type practice suggests that you should create and supplement a database of customers and prospects with the idea that you build more and more information to use to help build deeper relationships in your consulting practice and create additional selling opportunities.
What if you look at database building as a service you provided for your customers? Now, in some cases that might be a good service offering as a profit center, but I’m talking about providing a service that simply allows you to differentiate your business by adding value in ways that your competitors aren’t even thinking about.
RSS, search technology, and a slew of online apps have made the creation and streaming of database content a pretty simple affair.
Below are some examples of the kind of information this way of thinking might produce.
1. The knowledge database
Create a custom RSS subscription database of blogs and news sites your customers would find interesting, either by virtue of information they provided you or based on an industry they should follow. You can set-up an RSS reader or upload and OPML file to the reader of their choice and magically create a hand crafted set of blogs they should follow. OPML files may sound a little techie, but essentially it’s a list of RSS feeds that can be imported to an RSS reader to create lots of subscriptions at one time.
2. The best of class database
Build a list of best of class service providers that can deliver all the products and services you know your customers may need that are unrelated to your actual offerings. Create a database with all of the contact information and notes about each provider. Offer this to your customers as a service to help them find great companies for everything they buy. This strategic partner kind of database is something you should be building and maintaining for your referral and lead generation activities anyway, but take it a step further and make it a formal offering using a tool like Central Desktop to invite your partners to build and maintain their listings, including monthly specials.
3. The real time roundup database
Create custom social media and reputation monitoring databases for your customers that include all brand and competitive mentions in real time streams like Twitter, Facebook, and Media distribution sites and teach your customers how to monitor this database. This may be totally unrelated to your services, but it’s such an essential bit of marketing wisdom that you can create incredible brand loyalty by being the organization that shows them how to do it. Use a tool like Trackur to create your own white label social media monitoring service.
4. The cutting edge B2B database
Create a database of web apps that can help your business customers do more with less using free and low cost tools for things like design, file backup, file storage, file streaming, collaboration, online meetings, CRM, finance and HR. This is another play that can allow your organization to be seen as an online thought leader and go to person for emerging tools. Simply gaining this reputation can open some doors to many other teaching and exposure opportunities in your industry – regardless of what you actually sell. Here’s a nice example – The Freelancer’s Toolset: 100 Web Apps for Everything You Will Possibly Need
5. The reminder database
What if you offered a service that could help remind each customer of important dates? Give them the opportunity to put all the birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates in their lives into a database with the promise to remind them to take action when the date was coming up. Obviously, this is a no brainer if you also have a product or service to offer as something for that date, such as flowers or gifts, but it also works for just about any business as a way to stay top of mind. The heating and cooling service could offer a monthly home maintenance reminder tied to the season and featuring a different partner each month. The key is to provide value and personalization. You might also get some inspiration from LIfeHacker’s Top 10 Reminder Tools for Forgetful Minds