At Market Location, we are very proud that we have been trading for 50 years – to be in the data industry and have carried on trading through changes to guidance, laws, new technologies and marketing trends is a fantastic achievement.
We recently chatted to members of our team that have been with us for over 28 years to see what they remembered from the early days.
The first thing that sprung to mind was the 30-agent call centre that we had, with no computer system to record the outcome of each call made. Instead, the agents made phone calls with paper questionnaires to fill in as they went through the call. The volume of calls made, or the quality of those calls would only be tracked if you sat next to an agent to listen in to their conversation. There were no emails to capture; we didn’t ask for websites, the number of employees or if a business was likely to move as we do these days.
Image sourced from the BBC
The days of data on paper
Before the internet was created in 1983, the only reason to be listed in a paperback directory was to help people find their business address and phone number to increase sales and foot traffic. They couldn’t list their contact information and could only include their business name, address, and phone number.
When Market Location was building its first view of the UK business market, the most prominent provider was Thomson Directories, which was on a 2-year update cycle. Our directory was started to achieve a 1-year update cycle to compete against them.
We would also help if companies wanted to run a Direct Mail campaign using our database – we’d take our address data and print it out on labels for them. At the time, we had an in-house mailing facility, so we employed a group of retired people to stuff envelopes and stick the labels on. Over time printing technology became more advanced, and we moved to partnering with printers rather than offering the service ourselves.
Outputting data has changed a lot over time, too, from being printed on old computer paper to publishing books of maps showing the Manufacturing and Engineering sector and where they can be found across the UK.
We met our clients at service stations to hand over the data on floppy disks or CDs as they didn’t want to risk data being lost by the postal service. No security passwords were used to encrypt that data, so this physical transfer process was essential to our clients.
Now, there are many reliable technology and services used to ensure the highest data security. At Market Location, we have a dedicated IT department that, alongside our Compliance team works to the highest standards, which this year have been recognized through our ISO27001 and ISO27701 accreditations.
New challenges replace the simple life
As there were no CRM systems, the Sales teams had A4 diaries and calendars to plan their time and a Rolodex with all the contact information for prospects. Salespeople had phones the size of a brick when mobiles first came out, and if they were in the office, they were connected to the wall through old-school telephones. When we undertook a Call Centre campaign for clients, we would fill in paper questionnaires and then hand them back to the client for collating and inputting into any system they had.
Wandering around the UK, consulting their Filofax’s to see where they needed to be and at what time was a much simpler time. There are a whole new set of considerations for businesses now we are available 24/7. It highlights the importance of ensuring that companies encourage their teams to have a good work and life balance. Mental health is one such significant consideration every company must understand. The responsibility is to ensure that we regularly ask people if they are OK and need help. We also provide external collateral or services to help our staff deal with any issues they may have either at work or outside of work. We are lucky to have a board of directors that put money aside for this benefit.
Image source philofaxy
Staff retention has always been high, with many people serving most of their careers through to retirement, which shows how much emphasis Market Location has on career progression. One team member has been with us for over 28 years and has worked in almost every department.
Moving with the times
Over time our UK universe has grown, and technology has allowed us to advance how we collect, process, store and provide data to our customers. We’ve managed to cut down on a lot of paper use from the days of filling out questionnaires for every call and order forms for every project.
The importance of moving with the times and always keeping abreast of changes due and planning how the company will respond to those changes, stay relevant, expand services, and always provide the best service possible to our customers is what has kept Market Location going!