Ideally, the database would contain every single person for whom your product or service would be appropriate. If your target market is the finance directors of the NASDAQ100 and FTSE100 companies, then this is perfectly possible. There will be exactly 200 of them! Similarly, there is a finite number of high school principals so it should be possible to have most of them in a database. If your target market is every sales manager, sales director, business owner, marketing manager and director, CEO and managing director in the English speaking world, as ours is,this will be a bit more difficult. Therefore, your best bet is to build as big a database as you can, capturing the data of as many of these as possible.
Coursework in market research, statistics, and analytics will equip you to deal with the vast amount of information available to businesses. You will learn how to acquire good data, and how to make inferences and predictions based upon that data. A large database is only an asset if you can reduce the data to easily understandable, actionable information. A company unable to do that finds itself data-rich and information-poor. In a good marketing program, you’ll be able to learn the latest and most effective methods for turning raw data into useful information.
While real-time business intelligence is a reality for select companies, it remains elusive to many as it is dependent on these premises: the percentage of the business that is online, and the degree of level of sophistication of the software. Technology companies like Google, Dell, and Apple are best positioned to capitalize on such intelligence. For other companies, more traditional methods still apply, either to maintain communication with an existing customer base (retention) or, as a more established growth driver, to build, acquire or rent new databases (acquisition). A major challenge for databases is the reality of obsolescence - including the lag time between when data was acquired and when the database is used. This problem can be addressed by online and offline means including traditional methods. An alternative approach is real-time proximity marketing for acquisition purposes.