Sunday, October 29, 2006

Treat Databases Like New Shoes

It’s Sunday, and I am trying to clear client work off my desk to get to some proposals. But before I get there it’s time to update my database, an activity that occurs every two-three weeks here at Livingston Communications. To me this is one of the most important activities for the company.

When I started Livingston Communications, I had a little more than 170 contacts in my database. I’ve almost doubled that in 6 months. It’s my goal to have 1000 marketing contacts in my database by year end 2007.

According to Gitomer’s Little Black Book of Connections, having less than 1000 database contacts means that you are not sufficiently networked in your business community of interest. I’d have to agree with that statement.

The value of the database in marketing is often downplayed in favor of sexier conversation about branding, or PR versus advertising. Unfortunately, the most delinquent practitioners of database management are agencies. I don’t think any of the agencies I ever worked in were savvy about database management, parsing their contacts, or using them effectively to maintain relationships.

For many agencies, self-promotion is the shoemaker’s ugly stepchild. The kid's shows have holes in them, flat-out worn until the soles fall off. To me, agency promo is extremely important. Once I get to 20-25 hours a week billable, it’s time to get 1099ers or eventually hire someone so I can refocus on new business.

Truthfully, if I focused on executing all of my scopes of work all of the time, I would have some intense peaks and valleys for business. Get some, work it, then have to find new stuff once the projects were complete. This is a big danger for entrepreneurs. And it is also counter productive towards my vision of building an agency. That’s why it’s great to have #1 on board.

I am tired, and hope to get some time this evening to rest. It was a crazy busy weekend, following an even busier week. I am also starting to plan a little vacation for the end of the year. R&R is a must. But until I get there, it’s time to trudge the road of happy destiny. Stopping is not an option, this is what it means to commit to something.

Monday's quotes:

“Whoever said anybody has a right to give up?”
- Marian Wright Edelman

“We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.”
-Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you are using to manage these contacts? I'm not "pitching" my website ( to you, rather I'd like to pick your brain :)

I created JibberJobber as a job search tool and it quickly evolved into a networking/personal relationship management tool. However, I use it for my own marketing of JibberJobber.

Will you go into further detail about how you are growing your network, or what you do once someone's name is in there?

I find it interesting that you are doing this "so slow" compared to some of the LinkedIn guys that have thousands of contacts, but my network is slow to grow because I'm not adding every Tom Dick and Harry in as I meet them... I focus more on the relationship than the phone number.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Geoff_Livingston said...

I don't like LinkedIn networking, personally. There are several reasons for my thinking, but I've had too many competitors indirectly linked and prefer to keep my database private. Further I want quality, distinguished leads in the database, and I want people to remember me, so the follow-up database entry needs to be genuine (Let me know if you want to be added).

Most of my entries are a result of personal face-to-face contact, not spamming. I ask people if they want to be in the database, so it's an opt-in thing. I don't include direct competitors, no matter how friendly.

Very rarely are my regular emails to the database long or self-promoting. Instead they focus on value, trends, articles, events. I get about 2-3 comments at most networking events on how much people appreciate the emails.

Just my $.02

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Geoff, I find your comments about LinkedIn very interesting. It is a very lonely place if you don't have any connections, but you bring up some of the fundamental flaws of the social networking ideas. I think the main point you have is that it is NOT a replacement for real connections and real relationships - I know the guys at LI would agree with that.

So, what do you use to keep track of it all?

9:16 AM  
Blogger Geoff_Livingston said...

Act database from Sage Software is a fine product for small businesses.

You are right, my business really is a personal business. I think the Internet's a great credibility and branding mechanism, but when someone wants to spend $100k plus on marketing, they want a face-to-face relationship. It's a trust thing.

9:21 AM  

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