Archive for April, 2009

The power of data aggregation

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about marketing.  Now that Lasso has a first version out in the wild, my focus must shift to reaching my potential customers.  One challenge that i will have in this task is the fact that I, personally, am not a potential customer of my product (i.e. I’m not a business owner, the customer that i need to reach first).

Now, I don’t have a lot of experience in marketing (read that: none), but intuition tells me that step #1 in being a good marketer is having a deep understanding of your customer and your market.  So, the question then becomes, how do I gain deep insight into how and why business owners make decisions about how they reach out to their customers.

One of those is, of course, directly visiting businesses.  I talked about this in a previous post and it is still the #1 way to gain insight.  But unfortunately, visits take a lot of time and resources.  I want to find more ways to learn from the experts.

Being the self respecting techie that I am, I naturally turn to online resources to begin my learning process.  I’ll start finding industry blogs.  I’ll find influential + knowledgeable people on twitter.  I’ll start reading relevant news. etc.  There’s 2 problems with that approach

  1. This type of knowledge seeking falls in the “know that i don’t know” category.  Useful, but I’m less likely to be surprised
  2. It’s pull not push.  By that I mean, I have to seek out the information i’m looking for.  And if, for some reason, i don’t do it for a few days I am liable to miss interesting opportunities.

Enter the wonderful world of data aggregation.  This weekend, I spent about 3 hours setting up a series of data feeds that will deliver the news and information I need right to my feed reader.  Using a combination of Google Blog search, Google site search, Postrank, Twitter search, and last but not least Yahoo Pipes.  I made a very simple way to keep on top of all relevant and interesting news + articles about the restaurant industry.  The great thing is that although the breadth of information that I am pulling is quite wide, the amount of information that i have to process is pretty low (thanks to awesome services like Postrank).

Now, it’s certainly not perfect yet and i still have a lot more tweaking to do, but I’m feeling confident that, used properly, powerful tools that allow for this type of data aggregation and transformation  will (and certainly already are) positively transform the way that we think about market research.