A good friend of mine, Vinay Kumar, once owned a printing company that he grew from under $200,000 in annual sales to over $5 million! I asked him how he did it, and he pointed me to this post on his blog, where he writes:
Every quarter or so, we would print out a “year-end” report, listing for the previous 12 months, client names vs. year to date revenue, in ascending order. Applying the 80/20 rule, we then identified those top clients who provided majority of our revenue. With this list in hand, we then looked for common patterns. This included looking for items such as:
- Organization size, e.g. total revenue, staff size, # of members, donors, type, location;
- Types of projects produced, which internal capabilities were used to fulfill their needs, profitability, etc.
- Profile of the client as an individual, e.g. gender, approximate age, job title, knowledge of direct mail production; etc.
- Source of the initial client contact, e.g. referral, direct mail, cold call, speaking engagement, etc.;
- Clients’ desired outcomes through the projects projects, e.g. fundraising, member acquisition, renewal, new member on-boarding, product sales.
What I love about this post is how Vinay used DATA to identify who his best clients are, and then applied the 80/20 rule (80% of his business revenue coming from 20% of his customers).
The same process can be applied to any association or non-profit. If you have a centralized data system (or if you have multiple data sets, set up a data warehouse) you can analyze your sales just like Vinay does above. Then you can identify who your best customers are and FOCUS on them.
Too many associations and non-profits operate with the egalitarian attitude that “all members are equal.” The reality is that some are more equal than others, and that’s who you should be focusing on. You can’t achieve your mission if you’re broke; if your organization doesn’t focus on who brings the money, you’ll soon be out of business.
“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”
“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”
Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan
“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”
Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance