I was having some crackers and cheese spread (Wispride Port Wine) the other day, and noticed something on the side of the cheese spread container: serving suggestions. That's right, suggestions on how to use my cheese spread.

Now why do you suppose the manufacturer would waste space on suggestions for servings? I mean, c'mon, it's cheese spread, I think I know how to use it.

The reason, of course, is to get you to increase your consumption of the cheese spread. The more ways you can use it, the more often you'll use it, the more you'll need to buy.

The same can be said for our databases. Why don't we offer our users more "serving suggestions" to encourage them to use the database more? After all, chances are good they're only using the database in the one or two ways they know how, and haven't really thought about other applications for the system.

So what are some "suggested servings" for your database? Here are three:

  1. Use the database for all of your contacts, not just your customers or members. Working with a print or hotel vendor? Put 'em in the database.
  2. Track all of your ad hoc lists in the database. Does your organization send out holiday cards every year? Most of the people on that list are probably in your database, so why not track the list there? Then you can see who received a card, from year to year.
  3. Use the database to track all significant conversations. Did you talk to a member or customer today about something important? Make a note of it in the database. The more entries of that kind, the better informed all staff will be.

What would you put on your database "serving suggestions"?