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Big companies don’t rely on guesses or generalities when it comes to sales and marketing. The more precisely they can pinpoint buying behavior, the happier they are and the more they are willing to invest in the tools that will allow them to perfect their strategy.

That’s why more advertising dollars are flowing to the internet and banks are doing everything possible to get you to buy with a debit card.  Every interaction you have online and every purchase you make with digital currency is completely trackable, so that over time, when all that data is merged, who you are, your specific tastes and preferences become very clear.

With this information, marketers can create the right messages to sell their products and services — and they can develop their next offerings based on emerging trends, not whims. (I’ll share more about this with specific examples in my next column.)

It’s not just big, savvy, profit-seeking companies using marketing analytics to deliver the right message in the right place to their target customer.  Even President Obama’s campaign is planning to use data mining and analysis to win another victory in 2012.

Big brother factor aside, the nugget that entrepreneurs and small businesses can take from this behavior is:  Build predictability into your business by paying attention to customer patterns, then use those insights to drive your marketing, sales and customer service strategy.

We often operate from our gut; and I understand that. Yes, our subconscious and spirit are smart, well-informed tools, too. But the world is a crowded, noisy and distracting place — and as emotional beings we are fickle — so every day when people buy or don’t buy, respond or don’t respond to a marketing message, you should be keeping track of what’s happening and why. Over time patterns will emerge. Those repeat questions or requests, standard comments or complaints that irk you?  They should actually make you rejoice. The huge response or lack of thereof is directional signage pointing you toward a predictable paycheck, because your customers are telling you exactly what they want to buy.

Though walking into a store and buying, or being moved by a political commercial may all appear seamless, perfect and natural, the truth is big companies — and as it turns out, big politicians — don’t generate great profits and great wins without knowing exactly what you and I respond to. They analyze what we like, what we don’t like and just how much we’re willing to pay for it, and serve up our heart’s desire at the precise moment that we’re ready to buy.

I see evidence of this in my very own business all the time.  For example, to market a recent event we spent $99 on an e-mail campaign and a few thousand dollars to advertise on a popular Atlanta radio station.  Emotionally, it seems like radio would bring the best response, right?  Wrong. In terms of total number of responses, the radio spots came out on top.  But in terms of the number of people the message reached versus the number that actually responded, e-mail was the clear and absolute winner.

This matters because when we are making decisions about where to market and how much to spend, the better we know our customers, how well a particular marketing vehicle converts an audience to respondents and respondents to buyers, then the better off we are in making investments that will grow our business.

In this economy, where competition is stiff and consumer behavior is flighty, you can’t afford to wing it. You might start out that way in the beginning, but to create a predictable paycheck for your business you’ve got to learn exactly who your target customer is, how much they’re willing to spend and when they’re willing to spend it.  A clear and measurable sales and marketing strategy is how your business is going to survive and thrive.

Felicia Joy is a nationally recognized entrepreneur who created $50 million in value for the various organizations and companies she served in corporate America before launching her business enterprise. She is the author of Hybrid Entrepreneurship: How the Middle Class Can Beat the Slow Economy, Earn Extra Income and Reclaim the American Dream and is often called on to discuss the ins and outs of entrepreneurial success. She has appeared on CNN, FOX and in other national press. Felicia operates Ms. CEO Inc., a company that inspires women entrepreneurs to be savvy, profitable and bold in business; her company created the popular “Ms. CEO” tee.  She also operates Joy Group International, LLC, a publishing, business development and consulting firm. Follow her at  Send your questions to and she’ll answer them here in this column.

Get your business to where you want it to be: Learn more about Felicia’s convenient training, e-Publications and books that can help you take the guesswork out of starting and growing your business. Learn her proven strategies and approach for successful entrepreneurship, whether part-time or full-time. If you’re pouring money into your business or simply not getting a lot out of it, learn how to reverse those patterns and start making the money you want and deserve. If there is something specific you’d like help with, e-mail Felicia or connect with her on Twitter @feliciajoy.


Note: All advice offered in this column is for general information only.  Felicia Joy and The Atlanta Post are indemnified against any and all related claims.  Always seek the advice of licensed professionals before making business decisions.

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