These databases, or information resources, come in various shapes and sizes and you’ll have the most success when you use them for their intended purpose.
- Pros: Relatively new, popular, and growing. Can be a great way to network, get introduced, and check out who you’re meeting with.
- Cons: Accuracy is dependent upon everyone keeping their own information current (sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not); no guarantee that you’ll find the company or person you’re looking for.
Aggregator sites – like ZoomInfo or InfoUSA
- Pros: Massive databases of both business and consumer information. There are many companies to choose from, in most industries and geographies.
- Cons: They aggregate information from a variety of sources or use web-crawlers to search for content. Given the millions of records there are limited possible controls on accuracy, so you’ll find many inaccuracies.
- Pros: An online marketplace for buying or trading business contacts. Can be used for little to no cost if you submit your own contacts.
- Cons: No authoritative editorial oversight of the content. Accuracy depends on the user-base voluntarily flagging incorrect data, which can be very unreliable.
Mega sites – like Hoovers
- Pros: Millions of companies accessible in the Hoovers and Dunn & Bradstreet databases. Known for their information on public companies and senior executives, and provide the ability to drill-down (depending on your subscription) to get financial info, bios, company hierarchy, and more.
- Cons: Given the millions of records there are limited possible controls on accuracy, so you never know what you’ll get. Upcoming attempts to make it more of a social networking service may further degrade quality.
Boutique sites – like The List
- Pros: Focus on marketing and brand decision makers at companies that spend more than $500,000 on media per year. Ability to drill-down (depending on your subscription) to get financial info, bios, agency relationships, brands, people by location, hierarchy, and more.
- Cons: Limited number of companies (due to the media spend requirement); no guarantee that you’ll find the company or person you’re looking for.
Ask these 5 questions to help determine the quality and applicability of your new business database:
- How frequently do you call and verify the accuracy of each contact in your database? If you hear 6 or 12 months, given turnover in corporate America, you have to question the veracity of what you’re buying.
- How many companies can I access that spend more than $____ (fill in your minimum) per year on marketing services? If how much your potential clients spend on marketing is important to you, be sure that the resource you buy provides a number that tells you approximately how much it is (no one knows a company’s marketing budget, so media spend is usually the surrogate).
- How many (marketing) contacts do you have at the companies that matter to me? Too often, you purchase contacts that aren’t important to you. If you need marketing, brand, media, or C-level contacts, be sure your chosen resource has them in the quantity you require.
- What contact information do you provide? Do you need mailing address, direct dials, main phone numbers, email addresses? Be sure they have what you need.
If you determine what you need before you call, perhaps weighting each item’s importance ahead of time, afterwards you’ll be able to evaluate your options and select the one resource that will fuel your new business success.