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I’ve read enough articles about how your business will fail in three days if you don’t sign on with some expensive Software as a Service (SaaS) provider to leverage “big data” that I’m about ready to scream.

Businesses get pushed around from one “must-ride” marketing wave to the next like beginning surfers trying to get to shore at Mavericks. The fact is that many – if not most – businesses are not yet making adequate use of “small data,” which comes without the big price tag.

Make Small Beautiful

Let’s first define what I mean by “small data” – which, by the way, you’ll never hear a writer do when droning on about “big data.” Small data is the information you already have about your current customers. This should include name, general demographics, such as age and gender, and purchase history.

You should be using some kind of modern customer relationship management system (CRM), so if you’re a legacy brick-and-mortar location using 3×5 cards, give some thought to updating. In any case, your CRM should give you the ability to put your small data to work for you.

There is no doubt that the most important and lasting recent developments in business are local and social media marketing, both of which tie directly to small data, especially the “social” part of social media. I’m not overstating the situation too much when I say that small data allows you to look into the soul of your customers, at least the part that interacts with your business. Here are some specific ways to use small data to your advantage.


For the sake of this article, I’m assuming most of you are using email to directly correspond to customers with offers and updates. However, the same advice applies if you send out cards and letters.

Make your emails personal. The power of social media marketing is that it communicates on a personal level. Are you using names in your emails? Be sure you do it right. A friend used to own a music studio and he posted a wall of junk mail with bad greetings, like, “Wow Mr. Studios! You have just won…”

Don’t forget personalized “thank you” notes. This is very important. Don’t train your customers to know that every item of mail or email they receive from you is promotional. Sometimes a sincere “thank you” is all they want. If you can freely give some value along with the “thank you,” great.


Do you have important “anniversary” information among your small data? These would be events like first purchases and buyers’ birthdays.

TIP: Don’t be afraid to ask for birthdays. Drop a hint by saying, “We like to send special and often valuable greetings to our friends on important days!”

Deliver special offers on these anniversary dates. Commemorate a first purchase by saying something like, “We’ve enjoyed counting you as our customer over the last year. We hope it’s been good for you too. Here’s something special to note the occasion.”

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About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com, which helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Megan has several years of experience on the topics of small business marketing, copywriting, SEO, online conversions, and social media. Megan spends much of her time establishing new relationships for ChamberofCommerce.com, publishing weekly newsletters educating small business on the importance of web presence, and also contributes to a number of publications on the web. Megan can be reached at megan@chamberofcommerce.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChamberOnline or @MeganTotka.

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