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SIC codes- a blast from the past



So- you want to bump up your sales reach. We all do. Buying lists of data make sense then- right? Here’s the problem.


The industry standard for data is basically a 4 digit code (also known as sic codes)

that classify a business as being in a certain industry. The problem is that this system was established way back in 1937… Pretty sure there wasn’t a big technology contingent present back then. Let’s just say, “A” and “I” were nothing more than vowels.


This whole system of classifying businesses got a refresh 22 years ago. Instead of 4 digits that identify what industry businesses are in, now there’s 6. SIC codes were replaced by NAICS codes in 1997 (back when you could put a gallon of gas in your car for $1.23, go see the new movie Titanic for less than $5 a ticket, and then jam out to Foo Fighters or Counting Crows on the way home).


This new system allowed for better industry classification that included more modern industries, however while the NAICS codes are superior they have not been adopted by any of the data companies having invested in sic codes and the application thereof.


Let’s say you went (back in time) to a library and were looking for a book about Florida that cited the Fountain of Youth. Books about Florida can be found in the travel section, the history sections, non fiction, fiction… you get my drift. If the librarian helped out & went to look for a category and a section using those little library cards and the handed you a book about Florida, would you get what you were specifically looking for? Chances are slim. That's what you're getting when you buy a list of info from a company using common data mining methods; a librarian holding a Dewey Decimal card with a book that has "Florida" in the title.


Most of what you’re getting when you buy lists is a super broad range of basically a guesstimate of who may be a good fit for your product based on what 6 digit code was assigned while the OJ trial was on.


So, the next time you look into getting ahead in sales using data, you’ll know to back away slowly at the mention of SIC codes.


For something entirely different- check out more from Neural Sales.

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