How to Use Public Records in Marketing
The data from every credit or debit card purchase, every online search engine query, vote cast, a vehicle registered, arrest or arraignment documented by the legal system, birth, professional license, lawsuit settled, death, and more are collected and segmented for use by businesses seeking to reach potential customers.
While governments use the information from public documents to target spending and gauge the effect of public policy, private businesses may buy or collect a combination of public documents and online data culled by specialty brokers to craft well-targeted sales pitches. Your birth, marriage, credit rating, high school diploma, and first job were all part of this massive collection of information. You, too, have access to this information as a consumer and as a potential businessman and can use it to further your own goals.
Among the public records collected by government agencies are records of business incorporations, real estate transactions, criminal records, water usage, polls about leisure time, credit reports, transit use, food consumption, buying habits, educational attainment, unemployment, marriage records, deaths, family size, and more. If there’s a data point available, someone is trying to capture it and make a profit.
How public records can benefit your business
Deciding where to open a business and how to reach customers involves much more than finding an empty space for your office or store: successful business owners will also research the local area to determine whether their service or product is a good fit for the local residents. Public records can help with those decisions, making your time and efforts more efficient.
Some of the key questions that public records can answer are: How much do local residents make at their professions? Are local people college educated or blue-collar workers? Who owns their own home rather than renting in the area? What is the average credit score? How far do people travel for work? From those answers, it’s possible to extrapolate whether your business will be a good fit for the area and how to reach those consumers based on their daily habits.
Marketing with public records
When starting a business, it’s important to write a plan detailing steps to becoming a profitable entity (a bank may require this document as part of a loan application). The plan will detail how the business will run, how prices will be structured, and who customers will be.
Public records can inform much of your business plan by drilling down into data that includes the income level of target customers as well as where they live, their professions, their education levels, and how much they spend on similar services. Public documents can include information on distances potential clients travel for work or school, traffic patterns, and how other similar businesses are faring (growth, operating hours).
Where to find public records
Companies like RecordsFinder.com can assist with identifying and compiling information on those living and working nearby, including whether the individuals have a criminal record, their age, number of vehicles owned, their level of education, their income, family size, buying habits, and physical and financial health. This information can be crucial to anyone interested in starting a business directed at local residents, ensuring a good fit and an accurate advertising program that will appeal to the necessary demographic.
Some states do not make public records easily available. Contracting for such databases from a specialty information broker can save businesses time and money by gathering and segmenting information for use in your marketing efforts.
Public documents can streamline your marketing efforts, saving time and money on poorly targeted marekting tools and efforts. For instance, if you seek to provide financial services such as check cashing, bail bonds, wire services, and tax preparation in a storefront location, it makes sense to open your business in a community where individuals are seeking that type of service, such as between a public transit station and the county courthouse. Conversely, if you want to provide home décor services to an upscale clientele of new homeowners, it makes sense to find out where high-income young professionals choose to live and congregate by studying traffic patterns and buying habits. Understanding where your customers work and how they spend will dictate every detail of the business, right down to business hours and inventory.
Narrowing to specific business targets
Real estate companies frequently access public documents to research the age of homes, businesses, and other buildings as well as to determine their value, and whether the value is increasing or decreasing. All of this information is incorporated into setting accurate prices and demonstrating a solid understanding of the market for prospective customers. Public records can assist in finding the last sale price of a plot of land, home, or commercial property as well as providing local demographic data to profile and reach potential buyers.
Consumers, too, can use public documents to research major decisions, such as the neighborhood they are considering, the crime rate of the town, who lives nearby and what their professions are, how neighbors vote, what the local tax rate is, and even who owned a property in the past and how it was used. All of this information is available free of charge from local and state government offices.
Finding source material
There are many ways to identify the source of information needed to make the above decisions. While some services can produce a report culled from millions of pages of public documents with one search request, there are many other avenues to finding the same information. For instance, city halls offer public access to documents like tax rates, resident data (ages, occupations, education level), details about local business expansion plans, and the like. Court clerk offices can provide individual criminal records and statistics on crime, traffic and misdemeanor infractions, and the sex offender registry in your area.
Additional sources for public information may be found on the following government agency websites:
The U.S. Census (www.census.gov) compiles a number of documents useful to businesses seeking to know more about their customers. Among these public documents is the quarterly consumer credit trend report, which may shed light on the overall financial health of the population, and perhaps show where there may be a need for financial services. State governments may break down the information for local use, making it easier for businesses to find the most relevant information. Much of this national-level information is distilled on this site: https://www.usa.gov/statistics.
The federal Bureau for Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) publishes reports detailing consumer behavior, including employment and spending habits by age group. Most states make additional consumer and business data available because it is important to their understanding of the tax base (such as New York’s (https://www.labor.ny.gov/stats/) that breaks out employment by skill level, tourism statistics, green jobs, industry clusters, and more. Individual businesses may use that information for in-depth studies of major employers, changes in the labor force, traffic, and household size, in order to find the best location and match for the population they seek to reach.
The Food and Drug Administration (www.fda.gov), a federal agency, compiles information on Americans’ health and wellness, such as dietary habits, exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle data points.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (www.consumerfinance.gov) tracks trends related to consumer credit and spending, such as student loan repayment and auto loans to determine the health of the economy and the impact of federal policies and practices on consumer spending.
Organizations such as the National Conference of State Legislatures also study data to make recommendations on best practices for states, see http://www.ncsl.org/research.aspx.
On an international level, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (www.oecd.org) publishes information related to consumer habits, health, spending, and other trends in many countries, including how trade policies and international politics affect them.