Yesterday (14th Nov), I and sixty other businesses attended the splendid Woodland Grange Conference Centre, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, to hear a very good presentation entitled ‘Understanding the Value of Data Driven Marketing’. The company who delivered this, and I’m happy to name them as Serendipity2, had an incredibly difficult challenge of convincing the sixty or so, mostly non-marketing related SME’s of the power stored within our data, power which we would do well not to ignore. By demonstrating the extent of what can be accomplished with reliable data, both in terms of sourcing lists (acquisition) and owned data, and we’re not just talking about the removal of spelling errors, SME’s would see data in a way most may have not viewed it before. However, with only 45 minutes for their presentation, striking a careful balance between delivering some understanding without sending the audience to sleep for the duration would not be easy. As a Chartered Marketer myself and as someone who has worked extensively in the areas of data management (both acquisition and retention), profiling and data hygiene, I’m happy to say they did a fine job, which I commented on publicly.
Serendipity2 work largely with major brands, such as Coca Cola, GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) and Motorola, companies who have complex data repositories; that link transactional information and marketing data together. These two often disparate tools, when linked through marketing information systems, are ‘mined’ to assist the marketing planners in identifying trends, niches and areas for commercial exploitation.
However, this is wildly different from the systems and processes operated by most SME’s who, quite simply, don’t have the same financial muscle to invest in software and dedicated staff. Managing data for them just becomes another cost, because it is difficult to demonstrate clear returns. However, I am fortunate that as a Chartered Marketer and owner of an SME, I have ‘a foot in both camps’. From 1986 to 2003 I worked for four SME’s in the field of marketing who adopted a strong commitment to managing customer data. Three of these were direct mail houses who you would have expected might have preferred to mail erroneous data, simply to increase the value of the job. But this would not only have been unprofessional, it would contribute further to the debate about ‘junk-mail’ and would have resulted in the need for increased Government regulation.
In taking a much more positive attitude towards eradicating errors, this not only helped to save the client money, it also helped that client position themselves in a much more professional and effective manner. Take for example my own attitude towards businesses who fail to get even the most rudimentary element correct when they contact me and misspell my surname, or continue to display my business as an LLP (we became incorporated in 2004). If they can’t afford me the courtesy of getting this right, then how can they expect to get our relationship off on the right foot? By making these simple errors they do me a disservice making it much harder to sell to me. If I take this view then surely your customers might also?
It therefore not only makes financial sense to eradicate errors in your data, it also helps to limit any damage to the brand and this, it could be argued, carries more kudos to a small business owner who is inextricably linked by personality to his business, than it does to a major corporate.
If you are a B2C company, removing: deceased records, changes of address, or incorporating changes to the postcode regardless of whether these have been self-inflicted or imposed by the Royal Mail, Mailing Preference Service (MPS) suppressions even building and using your own suppression file, not only makes financial sense, but improves the likelihood of a better ROI. It should also form part of a company’s unofficial ‘duty of care’ to protect its customers and potential customers from your company’s emotional impact.
Although the size of the financial benefit may not be so significant in B2B organisations, any savings of resources, both financial and environmental can only be positive. In fact the professional body to which I belong states the definition of marketing as being ‘the management process which identifies, anticipates and satisfies customer requirements efficiently and profitably’. Therefore delivering messages in this way is not only good for the consumer, it is good for the company, its shareholders and the environment simultaneously.