Managing Prospects with
by Manny Hondroulis
So far we have discussed how PowerPoint and Excel can have
an impact on our window film businesses. Now we turn our attention to
Access, another component of the Microsoft Office Suite. Access is database
software. An overly simplified explanation of a database is that it stores
information that a user inputs where it can be retrieved at will in various
ways. Imagine storing all of your prospects and customers into a database
and being able to analyze that data to learn how and why your prospects
became customers. With that information you can determine which marketing
strategies worked, what percentage of your leads were commercial versus
residential and, for example, what percentage of prospects inquired about
window film for energy savings versus security benefits. In addition,
you can also modify your marketing strategy accordingly.
Think of a spreadsheet and how it is made of rows and columns (see related
article about Microsoft Excel on page 10 in the September-October issue).
Well, the same can be true for a database. Each row of a database is a
record and each column of a database represents different aspects of a
Let’s walk through the components of a simplified database that tracks
Imagine that a prospect is a record. Each row of data (think in terms
of the spreadsheet) represents a prospect and each column represents different
aspects of that prospect. The type of information you would store in this
database would be detailed contact information (name, address, company,
title, telephone number, e-mail), demographic (gender, marital status),
reasons for buying (safety, sun control, glare, fading, lower utility
bills) and so on and so forth.
Filling in the Details
So, how do you enter the data described above in a database? You can simply
input the data in the rows and columns of the database or you can use
a form to do it. A form is created in Access and allows you to input data
into the database in a user-friendly way. In the non-digital world, a
form is something that you hand out to collect information or fill out
to give information. It may consist of fill in the blanks, check boxes,
multiple choice questions and so on. Imagine a form of a database as the
same thing. You’re presented with a form on your screen and the information
you input into the form is then uploaded into the database. In this case,
each prospect would require a different form. Your form might ask for
the following information:
• Prospect’s name;
• Prospect’s address;
• Prospect’s contact information (telephone, e-mail, fax, etc);
• How did the prospect learn about you? (Yellow Pages, post card, Internet
search, trade show, etc.);
• Why did the prospect contact you? (smash-and-grab, windstorm, furniture
fade, glare, reduce utility bills, control winter heat loss, etc.);
• Application type (residential, commercial, government, automotive);
• Glass type (single pane, double pane, clear, tinted, annealed, laminated,
tempered, etc.); and
• Film type.
Now that all of the information is in the database, how do you retrieve
it? You retrieve the information by creating queries. A query enables
you to tell Access what data you want to retrieve and why. For example,
let’s say there is a string of burglaries in some nearby housing developments.
You may want to market to your prospects who have previously expressed
an interest in window film for residential applications. Rather than scrolling
through the contents of your entire database, you simply set up a query
that retrieves a list of prospects that have been tagged as residential
customers interested in window film for smash-and-grab crimes. At that
point you can send a mailer or make some friendly calls to those prospects
advertising the safety and security benefits of your window film against
Hopefully you can see how having detailed information that can be retrieved
in numerous ways can help you market your business. The hardest part about
using a database is creating it. The most mundane part is entering the
data. But once you get over that, the rest is smooth sailing to a more
effective marketing strategy.
Manny Hondroulis is marketing manager for Energy
Performance Distribution in Baltimore. Mr. Hondroulis’ opinions are solely
his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.
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