The Rise of Co-op Databases
It is much less common for business-to-business marketers to share data than it is for consumer marketers. However, in many b-to-b markets, there are complementary products that are sold by non-competing manufacturers in the same market. For example, one company may sell pesticide for corn, another company may sell seed corn.
In the small, vertical markets where most b-to-b marketers sell, customers and prospects are fairly easy to identify. Tools like SIC code or industry association lists work reasonably well. Co-op data can be used to identify how much a customer or potential customer is buying in a product category.
If the pesticide and seed manufacturers share data, they will have some customers who overlap. There will also be those who bought seed from the one company, but did not buy pesticide from the other company, and vice versa.
The advantage of the co-op database is not only in identifying who is a buyer, but also to determine how much each buys. A farm could buy enough seed for 50 acres every year from the seed manufacturer. Is it a loyal small farm, or a large farm that is simply testing the product? If, by sharing information, the seed company finds the farm buys enough pesticide for 2,000 acres, they know this account has high potential.
Co-op databasing becomes easier when the manufacturer has Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) data. EDI data are something a manufacturer may require re-sellers to provide on a periodic basic. EDI data is an electronic listing of who bought that manufacturer's products and in what quantities. EDI data are a common requirement among b-to-b sellers in some markets. When manufacturers of non-competing products in a vertical market both gather EDI data, they have the basis to form a solid database partnership.
Many industries could benefit from co-operative marketing databases. If there are several companies that: