Requests for information and data to support advertising proposals are probably through the roof at most organisations.

For the research team, it’s the good news/bad news balance, right? Good news, that research and information are now more highly valued than ever. Bad news because resources are probably down or at least not keeping up with demand.

So, this challenge presents a new opportunity to change things up. I’ve already written about our creation of “Think Sacramento” as a very basic Web site of current statistics and happenings that should be of interest if you are doing business in our market.

The idea is for the sales account representative to use this simple site to present to advertisers or prospects a few points to update them on the market.

This can be done without being tied to a linear PowerPoint deck. It can be done quickly and efficiently from a tablet or during a conversation over the phone.

Now, with fewer research resources, we are continuing to empower the sales reps by giving them access to more information with which they can interact to develop their stories, their way, for their accounts.

As an example: We work with many local small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that share their customer files with us to gain a comprehensive analysis of what their customers look like. The analysis is based on age, income, and Nielsen PRIZM® Lifestage groups, and how their most valuable customer segments line up with our sales and marketing channels.

We’ve been doing these analyses for years, but now there is a key difference. The difference is in how we report the results. We no longer build a PowerPoint deck that moves us slide to slide.

Now, we are empowering the reps with access to an online interactive dashboard of the results presented through Tableau, our data visualisation software.

Tableau allows users to turn on and off filters so they can control the views and make their points right in front of a client. The graphs and data change before their eyes as the user changes the filters to make the point of their presentation.

It’s a powerful approach when the sales reps use the self-empowering tools to make their case to the business decision-maker their own way. They create the storyboard and proposal, they know it, own it, and can effectively sell it.

B-Street Theatre has given us permission to share their example.

The dashboard below is one screen that is illustrating where B-Street Theatre customers live, what Bee products touch their homes, and how many total tickets sales come from within particular touchpoints.

Notice the lower right set of selection buttons. The next screen is a simple illustration of how the user can turn on and off the selection buttons that will redraw the charts. In the screen below, the data reflect the higher volume ticket buyers, those who purchased 11 or more in the past year.

At the end of the day, the research staff remains committed to offering help when and where they are able. But, with fewer research staff members and more demands, we are working to build a more flexible and dynamic structure that is more self-service and just as effective — if not better than before.