I am an advocate of using custom fields while keeping it simple. With a little planning, this can be done quite easily.
First you have to asks yourself what matters TO YOU!
* Do you want to know the source of your calls/leads?
* Do you want to know the last time you edited each record?
* Do you want to know which sales person is talking to your customers?
* Do you want to know everyone in the Oklahoma City area who attended the statewide Rodeo from which you imported the attendee list?
Most of these things can be searched easily with a simple Lookup from standard fields (custom fields can be added but that is another topic!), but that last example is a combination that may be best done using the "Advanced Query".
Under your Lookup menu, near the very bottom, is "Advanced", which has a sub-menu with "Advanced Query".
Now using that Rodeo example above, we can enter search criteria.
First, open ACT! on your computer and take a look at the Query window...
Notice that the top left selection defaults to Contacts. This shows what records we are Searching, and that we are basing the Query on Contact Records... not Companies, Groups or Opportunities. (Change this if you want to search Companies, Groups or Opportunities.)
Right below, it shows the type of records you are searching, again "Contacts".
Next, we need to select the first Field we want to search. Based on the example, let's start with the Rodeo. When you imported the list, you should have entered a "Referred by", a Source, or some other designator. I often use Last Results and simply note the source. In this case, I would have noted a date, and "BR imports from OK State Rodeo list." I probably won't remember the date or the exact phrase, but "OK State Rodeo" is probably included. For my Query, ACT! will search starting at the left of the field unless I change the default, so I am going to tell it to search the Field "Last Results", and change the Operator to "Contains" instead of "Starts With", then in Value, we want to look for OK State Rodeo. The we can select Add to List.
But we are not yet done because we need to search more Fields!
There are a number of ways we can isolate a specific geographic area: City name, zip codes, etc. Since we want everything in the OKC area, simply using Oklahoma City is too specific. To expand on that, we need to find the city names or zip codes for the surrounding areas.
If we use Zip Codes, our next search criteria retains the "Contacts" type, but we change the Field Name to "Zip" and the Operator to "Greater than or Equal To". Then the Value is the lowest numerical Zip Code in the range. Add to List.
The next entry need to contain the highest numerical Zip Code in the range, noting the Operator to be "Less than or Equal To". Add to list also.
Notice the list of criteria, and the right most column: It defaults to "And", "And", etc. until it finally notes "End" after the final entry. If you leave "And" selected, your search will only produce records that include ALL search criteria. In some cases, you want to change it to "Or".
Think about your desired results, and experiment! By selecting "Preview", you can check the results and adjust as you wish.
When you have the desired query, select "OK" to process. ACT! will ask if you want to Save the Query, and you may wish to do so! If you do, name it, and save it. The next time you wish to use it, you can access it by opening the Advanced Query window, and clicking the file folder in the top right of the screen.
Once you have the results of your Query, you can add or delete columns and export it to Excel...
Just FYI: I love designing custom reports for ACT!, but I export my results to Excel and manipulate them there. It's much easier for me and for transferring to others who use Excel.
Those of you who know me well, know that I am easily bored so it's best that I keep busy ;-) If you are too busy and I can help, please call about how I can help! It can be a great value to "outsource" some of those tasks that you just can't get done... and since I am "on call and as needed", you only pay when I am actively accomplishing your assigned tasks.