Tracking client information is important since it becomes the basis of the marketing plan. Unfortunately, many firms don’t monitor the source of their new business and miss out on marketing opportunities.

Case in point: one client said that her new business came from other clients.  Yet after the database analysis, it was discovered that a large number of clients over the years had come from speeches at a specific organization that she had stopped giving, because she didn’t believe they had any impact. Once she saw the data results with a high percentage of clients generated from speeches at that organization, she included speaking among her important marketing activities.

The source of your clients is a critical key in developing future business. Most commercial databases such as Act!, GoldMine, Redtail, etc., have fields for referral sources or contain fields where data can be customized. You can also export your data into Excel and add data fields that will be guideposts for your marketing efforts.

The three major fields that are critical in a database for marketing purposes are:

1. Client industry indicates what type of clients you have e.g. physicians or small business owners. The value of this data is that the marketing plan can focus on an area where you already have a lot of clients. Potential clients are impressed when you can point to your other clients that are in the same industry.

2. Referral source name reveals the specific people who are referring the clients to you.  These are people to whom you should refer back or, if you are in a position where you cannot do so, then give them another reward such as co-authoring an article with you or co-presenting a speech.  For example, you can write the article and they review and contribute material.

3. Referral source industry is important because it lets you analyze which industries are referring most of your clients. For example, if most of your clients come from attorneys or CPAs, you can craft a marketing plan targeted to these specific segments.

Not all clients are generated from people.  Oftentimes, firms land clients through marketing activities such as speeches, articles, webinars, etc. These activities can be captured in the referral source industry field.

For current clients, you can exercise your memory to fill in the data fields. For new clients, you should have a data sheet that asks the question: How did you hear about us? You should not begin a relationship with a new client without completing the three critical data fields: client industry, referral source name and referral source industry.

Periodically, you should analyze the database to monitor both the client industry and the source of the client.  The results of the analysis indicate where you should make changes in your marketing resource allocation to optimize the results of your marketing efforts. For example, if you see that you have a growing number of clients generated from an organization of which you are a member, then you should probably be even more involved in that organization by regularly attending meetings, joining the membership committee, speaking at their events, etc.

The goal is to spend the least amount of money and generate the most number of clients. By having a process in place to capture the three critical data fields from new clients, you will be able to better define your future marketing activities that will be successful in generating new clients.

Barbara Lewis MBA has been a marketing consultant in the retirement industry for over two decades. She serves as the outsourced Chief Marketing Officer for her clients, many in the financial services industry. You can follow her blog on marketing tips at She can be reached at (818) 784-9888 or at