Nothing drives me more insane than lack of data. Continual performance assessment and the starting point for any strategy is research. Research can be made very difficult if there is no data to dissect. The little things consumers say, the amount of people coming through the door, the number of phone calls and outcomes are all important in determining the current state and direction of a business.

Data is important, no crucial and needs to be at the top of any businesses mind. Research is not a catch up game it is a constant, continual living facet of your business. Now, don’t think asking the odd customer ‘so how did you find us’ will cut the mustard or give you a creditable idea. Data collection needs to be a well thought out system and a regular part of your processes.

When you think about it, there are a number of aspects requiring your continual assessment, not just your consumer’s behavior but your competitors, the market, your digital performance and suppliers. These should all be combined in a plan, which lays out how data will be gathered, analysed and reported on. Who will be responsible and when will it be conducted? For example; whether data will be taken weekly or monthly. Masterminding research will ensure you are on top of your marketing, have the ability to react immediately to changes and adapt to effective and ineffective marketing activities.

Once you have your data, form a loving relationship with an Excel Spreadsheet, regularly add to it and use it to analyse the results, be aware this will not suit lazy people. A lazy option is to look at them all separately in the reporting systems or you have the option to outsource and receive a tidy report periodically. If this all seems a tad daunting, get help. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to back track.