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Published: Nov 27th, 2015

Hugh Bailey | Connecticut Post

Hardly anyone answers cold calls. Unsolicited emails are nearly always deleted. No one has time for lunch meetings.

Understanding these new realities, along with a nationwide approach focusing on Internet advertising, has helped a local company greatly expand its reach.

Essential Data Corp., based in Shelton, offers technical writing, training development, business analysis, and business intelligence services. Antoinette Allocca, the company’s founder and president, said the business has changed dramatically in the past 25 years.

“The only aspect of our business that has remained unchanged is that we play in a niche market that larger operations have ignored,” she said.

What started as a small, Stamford-based company catering mainly to the financial services industry has gone national, with a sales force focused on doing research before approaching a client and making the best use of people’s time.

“Less than 3 percent of people answer their phone,” Allocca said. “People are distracted.”

Essential Data Corp. employs about 50 people, including about 40 technical writers, with workers in 30 locations around the country. That helps the company maintain a local presence in a wide variety of markets and compete with anyone.

“We have home offices around the country, and that allows us to attract salespeople,” she said. “Other companies don’t have a sales force like that.”

The company has also focused intensely on Internet advertising, and its name comes up first in Google searches for technical writing. Despite the expense, the ads more than pay off, Allocca said.

The company works with about 300 clients in public and private sectors including health care, financial services, technology and consumer products, among others.

Knowing how to reach new clients has been a game changer, company officials said.

“When you send someone an email, you have maybe three seconds before they decide to delete it,” said Tom Walsh, vice president at Essential Data. “You need to lead with information that hooks their interest.”

Keeping track of analytics, including watching who is spending time on the company’s website, helps Essential Data know who to target for new business.

“We can see when someone from a company has been on our site even if they haven’t picked up the phone yet and requested information,” Walsh said. “That allows us time to find out some more about the company and use that information in a targeted way, to try to catch someone’s attention.”

A local presence in a wide array of markets makes a big difference, he said.

“When we go into a market, we have a phone number and address in that market, and it shows a local presence,” he explained.

The company has all but stopped doing cold calls, relying on research before seeking out new clients. Walsh said he sees that trend continuing.

“I think there’ll be even more of an inbound focus on the analytics, as you drill down further,” he said. “You can see how much time are they spending on the site, are they making multiple visits, even if they’re short.”

Allocca, who lives in Stratford, said constant change has made the company better. “The most important thing a small business can do is critical self-analysis, and that leads to success,” she said. “You need to look at who we were and who we are now.”

[email protected]; 203-330-6233; @hughsbailey