Nuts & Bolts - Database Marketing: You There, Giant? It’s Me, David.

Database marketing can mean small business intelligence works as well as or better than big corporation data, says Corrine Sandler.

Sandler, founder and CEO of Toronto-based Fresh Intelligence Research Corp. and author of “Wake Up or Die,” provides tips she says will help small companies in “taking down the Goliaths.”

In her tips announcement, Sandler says: “Thanks to the Internet, the boutiques and startups have access to all kinds of free tools for gathering intelligence. They’re also much more agile than the big corporations; they can make a decision and act immediately. That’s essential in a marketplace where conditions change quickly.”

Her tips include:

• If you lack resources, make use of free or inexpensive intelligence-gathering tools. Visit competitors’ websites and collect data about them. Many businesses put a great deal of revealing information on their sites, which can benefit you. Also, make note of any changes on their sites. Google Alerts can tell you when they’re releasing new products or expanding. Use Google analytics tools such as Google Trends-Hot Searches to spot what’s in the collective consciousness—potential consumer demand—at any given time.

• Make intelligence-gathering part of your company’s culture. Encourage employees to pay attention as they interact with others outside the company.

• Appoint a chief intelligence officer to coordinate and analyze information from a variety of sources. In smaller companies, leaders tend to rely on pipelines of internal information provided by employees who don’t understand how to use intelligence to make empowering decisions. That can render important data inactionable.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

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