Database platforms for ad agency growth through new business

Databases are an important part of any balanced new business program. Like breakfast. A fine start that can drive efficiency and effectiveness.

Here are a few thoughts on what you need in a database for new business efforts. To be clear, what you’ll be reading about here is building your own customized database that is built from a stock platform. Not the databases you’ll want to get that will feed it (Sources like The List, Access Confidential, Hoover’s and many others.)

Caution: I am by no means an expert in this area. But when you build enough of ’em, you can’t help but pick up a thing or two. There are more qualities you will need.

But generally speaking, for ad agency new business you will want… to a build from a platform with the following characteristics:

A place to actively track your relationship with specific individuals. This should kinda go without saying, but this functionality is key. In database terms, this means having the ability to create activities and date them. A place where you can jot down an important conversation you’ve had with someone. Or schedule a call to take place two months from now. Or even note the name of someone’s admin. Your Rolodex on steroids.

The ability to create custom fields. While the off-the-shelf platform will certainly work, you will want the ability to craft some specific fields related to agency new business (for example, “current agency”).

Email capability. It’s awfully handy to write an email to a prospect and then attach a copy of that email to the prospect’s record. Some platforms have the ability to work with your existing email client (Outlook, Apple’s Mail, etc.) Better yet – the ability to create and track mass emails.

“Import” options. You will need a variety of options to get information you get from the outside world to nourish your prospecting skeleton. Usually, this is done through a spreadsheet.

Storage space. Beyond emails and past activities, it’s nice to have the option of attaching other files to the contact record. Things like PDFs, Web pages, docs and presentations.

Nice, but certainly not necessary: portability or non-office access. Your database can live on your computer, an external hard drive or the cloud (the internets). While I rarely use it, having access from your smart phone can be very cool.

So, which one do you go with?! The answer that’s right for you, you, you will be determined by your specific needs. Yours truly has used three over the last twenty years: Goldmine, ACT, and Salesforce.

Currently, I use Salesforce, and have helped several agencies build or revise their platforms. While it is more expensive than other options, pound for pound it delivers the most value. If an agency asked me today what to use if they were building from scratch, Salesforce would be my reco. There are many others out here, though. And these options are definitely worth exploring.

Thanks for your time. As always, should you wish to discuss any of what you’ve read, feel free to give me a shout.

Happy pitching!