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DATA IS YOUR FRIEND

Results Driven = Data Driven.

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Ben Collins

Written by:

Ben Collins, Director at British BIDS.

Read time: 4 minutes

Since the turn of the year, it’s incredibly positive to see that more than 20 BIDs have been successful at ballot. And, despite the challenges prevented by COVID, the number of BIDs in the UK continues to grow.

At British BIDs, we have seen some impressive turnout figures at the ballot box, along with extraordinary overall Rateable Value and majority yields on the “yes” vote. Given the current climate this is extremely encouraging, and it demonstrates that BIDs are just as relevant today as they have ever been.

But what is the secret behind a hugely successful yes vote for a BID ballot? I’ll tell you. Data!

As you can imagine, the British BIDs team has been speaking regularly with many of these BIDs and one of the common themes that has shone through the success stories is the underlying quality of the data they have to work with. Good data leads to good insights.

Torture the data, and it will confess to anything. - Ronald Coase, Economist

How true this is. The key is not just in harvesting data for the sake of it but in utilising in effectively. Good data used properly is priceless to a BID and will serve it well throughout its term as well as its ballot. The importance of how it is collected, having robust processes in place, how it is broken down, analysed and ultimately put to use will aid a BID tremendously in its delivery.

Of course, good data helps when you’re at the crucial voting stage of a ballot – who is likely to be voting “yes”? Which businesses still need convincing? Where should we best focus our efforts? How many non-committed voters do we need to convert to “yes”? And which ones are we most likely to be able to convince? These are all questions that can be answered easily if you hold the right data.

But a “yes” vote isn’t won at the voting stage. In truth, a successful ballot has been decided in part way before that. It is determined in every single year of the BID term that has preceded the ballot, and as you might have guessed, the success of delivery through each year of the BID term is all to do with the quality of data you hold and how you use it.

You could argue that using weak data is better than using none at all, but from what I have observed with BIDs recently is that the most successful are the ones who have high quality data, and use it to inform the decisions they make around what to deliver for the businesses and communities they represent.

To help you understand what I mean I’ve broken down some of the types of data that a BID could (and should) hold and how it can help inform their delivery strategy;

  • Levy Payer Data – Typically held in a CRM. Levy Payer Data provides information and insights on who the key contacts are, how many times you’ve engaged or communicated with them, what levy they pay and so on. You can use this data to understand how engaged an individual business is with your BID, how likely they are to vote “yes” (or “no”) at the next ballot and what their specific needs are for their business.
  • Marketing Data – This will include website, social media, email and all offline communication information. All marketing activity can and should be tracked and performance measured. Having proof of the impact of marketing through how many people your communications have reached, how often they have engaged and what actions they have taken as a result is a vital tool for demonstrating the value your BID provides. If used effectively, the data can also provide you with valuable return on investment projections.
  • Engagement Data – I like to think of engagement data as anything which allows you to track the number of people who have visited your location. That could be footfall data, car parking data, public transport usage. Again, this is vital to help you demonstrate how your deliverables have had a positive impact for the BID and the businesses it represents. If collected and analysed in the right way you will be able to correlate BID activity against the impact the local economy.

So, what is the key to making this data work hard for your BID? I think of it as the three D’s - diligence, discipline, and dedication. By this, I mean having the processes in place to keep data up-to-date, track progress and measure performance against your business plan. This process can be aided if you’re able to utilise technology or software which automates the collection or data, or at the very least make it easy to keep up-to-date.

To summarise with another quote, this time from the American engineer William Edwards Deming...

In God we trust, all others bring data.

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