Testing is at heart of database marketing

The following column, which appears each issue, looks at new and emerging trends in direct marketing.I would like to welcome 40 new readers to this column.I can make this claim with considerable confidence, since I gave an issue of Strategy to...

The following column, which appears each issue, looks at new and emerging trends in direct marketing.

I would like to welcome 40 new readers to this column.

I can make this claim with considerable confidence, since I gave an issue of Strategy to the participants at York University’s seminar on database marketing last week in Toronto.

The question is, ‘What do I say to 40 individuals who have just spent two solid days on the subject?’

What should I say?

Moreover, what should I say to countless other readers of this column? (I say ‘countless’ because I do not know how many Strategy readers pore over these words, or even give them a passing glance.)

I say: Go ahead. Roll the dice. Take a chance.

Testing is at the heart of database marketing.

Having something to test is at the heart of testing.

Having something to test means going beyond the round table discussions of what could be, to mailing something – an offer, questionnaire, whatever – to a certain customer group for a specific and measurable purpose.

Additional information

No matter how tentative, this step could be the birth of your database marketing program; at the very worst, it will give you additional information about some of your customers that could be useful in future decision-making.

By directing attention at your best customers, those who unduly influence your organization’s operating revenue, you would be acting with enlightened self-interest.

With rare exception, we are creatures of habit.

In business, to say ‘no’ to a new idea is always safer than ‘yes,’ since trying something new always brings with it the possibility of failure.

This attachment to the comfortable may have been exacerbated by the lousy business environment over the past few years, even though such times are appropriate for a discussion on ‘doing things better,’ which, in current times, always means ‘doing the same, or more, for less.’

If business can reorganize the way its products are made or distributed, should it not also consider reorganizing the way its products are sold?

By the way, I am not advocating a massive shift of your marketing funds, just a prudent review of how – and why – they are spent as they are, to permit a legitimate test of some form of customer retention activity.

(You will need a matched control sample, of course, and while you are at it, you might as well mail a second test/control group.)

The shoe box is full of customer names. It is time to do something with them.

More packaged goods firms are collecting information from their customers, according to DMB/scan, a tracking service based in Armonk, n.y.

Growing interest

Although DBM/scan reports activity in the u.s., its data reinforce the growing interest in customer data among packaged goods firms.

According to DBM/scan, the total number of packaged goods firms with customer data gathering programs was 450 as of Nov. 1.

This compares with 318 by the fourth quarter of 1992, and 154 by the fourth quarter of 1991.

More than 50%

With 606 programs together, the top three firms – Kraft/GF, Procter & Gamble and Nestle – accounted for more than 50% of the top 11 (10 was a two-way tie) since DBM/ scan was launched in 1991.

David Foley Associates specializes in design implementation and evaluation of database marketing programs. Please direct comments and questions to David Foley Associates, 48 Woodman’s Chart, Unionville, Ont. L3R 6K7, or call or fax (416) 940-8784.