This month’s podcast special guest is Alex West, Director of Research at Ann Arbor SPARK. She explains how economic development organizations can get started collecting and organizing local data:

So where do you start and where do you stop? And it’s often easier to think about this in terms of each function.

So from a business development standpoint, it helped us a lot just as a team to define what our process was. When do we start talking to a company? When does it become a project? How does it become a success and how do we know? Obviously measuring success here is the ultimate point in collecting data. So I think really asking deep questions about what it is that you want to measure and how you want to measure it is the biggest point here. So start small and then grow big. I also think that some of the intimidating parts about collecting data is that people think they need to collect all of it all, all at once. And it’s a little easier if you can think about it in pieces. So I’ll use an example of our marketing team. So when I first started at SPARK, our marketing team was not using Salesforce at all. I mean they were just logging in and looking at companies to see what we had done with them in the past.

And then over time I broke them down slowly, just to start capturing all those referrals that you make to agencies and local media. You’re providing all that value and you can report on this, and not only report on it, but you could show it to your board to see how much work you were doing. And now they’re starting to use it in how they work with our startups in the incubator, and how they consult with them on marketing strategy. So it’s just baby steps and you don’t have to take them all at once. Just one at a time. Just start collecting some of your data points, know your process and get a CRM.

To listen to the full episode of the podcast, use the player below:

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