Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Juicy Stats

One of the places we buy lists is Dun and Bradstreet's ZapData web site.

If you register at that site, one of the things you can do it slice and dice the prospect lists to target your audience. See an example in my post on Do You Target Clients?.

Once you register on that site, you can review their "Industry Reports" on various industries. This is all drawn from their data, of course. Click on the blue button labeled "Industry Reports."

Here are the kinds of juicy information you'll find:

- Services
- - Legal

4-digit SIC code 8111

Reports include . . .
- Market Size Statistics
- Market Analysis by Company Size
- Market Analysis by State
- Market Analysis by Metro Area
- Market Analysis by Specialty

I note that California has 13% of the country's law firms. They have an average of five employees with averages annual sales of $400,000 USD. Obviously, not all of those employees are attorneys. :-)

Sacramento has about 2,200 law firms with an average of five employees and average sales of $400,000. So we're pretty darn average.

Even though there are 11,000 people employed at law firms, I don't need to target 11,000 people. In fact, I would be foolish to do so. There are key people who make decisions at law firms: Managing Partners and Office Managers. Of these, office managers are a lot easier to get ahold of.

Zap Data can't tell me who is the key person I need to contact at every company. But they can slice and dice a list so I can get a list of Office Managers only or Managing Partners only.

The more targeted my marketing, the better, of course.

Computer Consultants

When you look at your own industry, it helps you to learn a little more about the list service. For example, when I look at the stats for the Computer Maintenance and Repair industry (sic code 7378), I find about 17,500 businesses, half of which are one-person shops. My gut tells me that there's a equal number "off the grid" and invisible to Dun and Bradstreet.

But of the numbers in D&B's database, 36% have 2-4 employees and another 9% have 5-9 employees. Just 5% have ten or more employees.

The vast majority (1-5 employees) averages $100,000 USD in sales for every employee. That's good for 1-person shops. But it's great for 3-4 person shops because it means they're running pretty well -- assuming they've got at least one non-technician on the staff.

And here's some useful information on the competition: D&B reports 113 firms in the Sacramento area with an average of six employees and $500,000 in sales. This is quite a different market from Portland, OR with 115 firms with an average of two employees and $200,000 in sales.

I'm not sure why those demographics are so different, but it helps me understand the bigger picture as I consider moving into new markets.

Using This Information

There are two sides to this coin. I would start an analysis of a list service by comparing the information they give you about your own business/competition to what you know from your own experience. How accurate is the picture? If all their info is accurate, how does your business stack up?

Next, I'd look at your target client's industry in your area. Speculate about how accurate it is.

Consider those sales numbers very carefully. How much of your services can someone afford?

It helps a lot to take one of your clients to lunch and pick their brain. After all, if you want to know about dentists, talk to a dentist; if you want to know about accountants, talk to an accountant.

Find someone who is on the board of a local association and take them to lunch. Be honest. Tell them you're trying to determine whether that industry would be good prospects for the services you offer.

Note: This little routine is a great way to make great connections. Leader types took that position in part because they have a "help others" gene that you can tap into for the price of a lunch.

Anyway, figure out what the high, medium, and low profit margins are for your target market.

If net profit is in the range of 10% and sales are $100,000, that's a profit of $10,000 per year. With that small of a net, your focus needs to be on cost savings in order to increase profit. Next, you have to figure out what they're currently spending on I.T. services (hardware, software, labor). If you could decrease the I.T. spend for these folks, you could move that $10k up to $11k or $12k. That's significant for them.

If the profit is more like 20% and sales are in the range of $500,000, then it's a different story. Net profit could be $100,000 and you'll have a tougher time making a significant improvement on that. So for those clients your approach will be in giving greater value for the budget they have. You still have to figure out their budget. But your approach will be different from the smaller prospect.

Of course, if you can replace an in-house I.T. person, then you CAN have a significant impact on their bottom line.

Obligatory Kick In The Butt:

Once you buy a list use it! Don't just buy a list and never get around to doing something with it.

Design a campaign around what you think these companies are really like, what they need, and what they can afford. If you're completely off the mark, your return will be zero. So the more research and self-education you do the better.

When you align your message, your offer, and your prospects, the return will be great. But it takes some work!


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