Having spent a large portion of my career collecting and analyzing data, I was THRILLED to see the importance that the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce places on providing its members training and access to data (AT NO ADDITIONAL COST). I can assure you, that this collection of databases/tools (aka BIG) is not cheap!
Before you roll up your sleeves and dig in, I feel obliged to share a couple of recommendations:
- Data is rarely perfect, so don’t treat it as such- If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. It’s unlikely that you need the data to be 100% perfect to get value from it.
- Begin with a mission in mind– Start your exploration by thinking of a question you’re trying to answer or a problem you’re trying to solve. If you don’t, you may quickly find yourself overwhelmed and drowning in data!
How The Tools Can Be Used
Here are just a few ways these databases/tools can be used:
- Market Research- Get a better understanding of your Competitors, Prospective Customers, Suppliers, and Your Industry
- Marketing Campaign Planning- Target your efforts to get the best ROI and “market smarter”.
- Marketing Campaign Execution- Get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all the people you want to target!
- Sales Call Preparation- Perform “recon” work to help tailor your pitch.
- Business Plan Development– Whether you’re looking for funding or just wanting to “get your ducks in a row”, these tools will be invaluable.
Hopefully once you finish reading this post, you can start to see how these tools can be beneficial for your specific business.
Overview of the various tools
The primary purpose of this post is to “spread the word” that these resources exist and vouch for their value. With that being said, I’m only going to give a brief overview of the tools that I have personally used. You’ll also notice that this post is written from a B2B perspective, but B2C organizations will find similarly valuable data for their purposes.
Hoover Plus is a very powerful database/tool that the Quad City’s Chamber and Eastern Iowa University have teamed up to provide access to. The only “downside” is that due to the cost of the tool, you can only access it from the computers at the Chamber’s Davenport Iowa office.
Hoover Plus contains 74 Different data points for each business, below are some of the data points that I have found valuable:
- Contact Name (Typically a senior officer)
- Mailing Address Info
- Net Income
- Facility/Office Size
- Total Employees, Employees at a specific location
- Industry Codes (NAICS & SIC)- which allow for additional research and allow you filter your data by specific industries.
ReferenceUSA is my tool of choice when it comes to in depth market research and campaign planning. ReferenceUSA is similar to Hoovers Plus, but contains additional data points for each business. From my experience the majority of business have 115+ datapoints that are populated. Access to this database/tool is typically provided by libraries. If you’re lucky, the library where you live will have a subscription that allows you to access it remotely. Otherwise you might have to work on your quiet voice and set aside some time to head a library that has a ReferenceUSA subscription.
Below are some of the data points that are found in Reference USA, but not Hoovers Plus:
- Additional Contact Names (HR, Marketing, IT, Finance, etc.)
- Carrier Route (which can be used for Every Day Direct Mail)
- Categorized Expenses- Range of how much the company spends annually in Accounting, Advertising, Insurance, Legal, Rent, Utilities, etc.
Plunkett is the place to go if you’re looking for macro level data and insights. Unlike Hoover Plus and Reference USA, Plunkett is more geared toward to industry level analysis. This can be helpful if you’re trying to establish benchmarks for your business, considering starting a new business, or otherwise want to better understand a specific industry. Also, if you aren’t someone who enjoys having spreadsheets up on multiple monitors, you might want to start with Plunkett!
This is the newest tool provided by the Chamber. Unfortunately I haven’t yet had time to dive into it. One thing that I already love about it, is that I can access it from my office! It also seems to do a good job of displaying the data in a more meaningful way. Here is a link if you want to check it out for yourself.
Access & Training
If you don’t already have access to these tools, sign up for the BIG training class provided by the Quad Cities Chamber