Volume 14, Issue 3 - May/June 2010

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The Low-Down on Database Marketing

by Manny Hondroulis

My column traditionally has focused on improving your website and online presence to draw prospects to you; in other words, capturing your share of the existing window film demand. But you can also use technology and the web to create that demand.

Prior to the web and online information sources, if you wanted to create a printed mail campaign, you would have to purchase a book of lists, type mailing labels in your word processor, create a marketing package (whether a simple post card or more involved press kit), and add postage. The process, time consumption and cost of this might prohibit or discourage you from marketing on a regular basis. However, the web can facilitate this process so that you can produce more marketing campaigns in a shorter period of time. Hereís how.

Purchase Marketing Data
No longer do you have to purchase a book of lists. Now you can purchase records from an online database source. A record is information about a prospect and includes a prospectís name, address, contact information, industry, company size and much more.

ďThe process, time consumption and cost of this might prohibit or discourage you from marketing on a regular basis. However, the web can facilitate this process so that you can produce more marketing campaigns in a
shorter period of time.Ē


Companies such as Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) (www.zapdata.com) sell marketing data. You can purchase records based on the type of industry, geography, business size and other criteria. For example, if you want to target clothing stores to sell them on the idea of window film as an effective way to protect against fabric fade, simply search for records at zapdata.com in your trade area by the relevant SIC code(s) Ė in this case 5611 and 5621.

(You can use database marketing not only to target prospective customers, but also to target referral agents.)

Create Mailing Labels
After defining your target data, you will be prompted to save the results in a database format (comma delimited, tab delimited, Access, or Excel). Having the results saved in this format allows you to perform a mail merge in Microsoft Word or other document software to create and print mailing labels within a matter of minutes.

Design Your Printed Media
The final step is to design and print your postcard or other printed media. You donít need to be a graphic artist to deliver a clear and concise marketing message on a post card. A software program such as Microsoft Publisher allows you to lay out the necessary text and photos and save them in a printer-friendly format.

Pitfalls of Technology
Keep in mind that the marketing lists that you purchase are not always 100 percent accurate. D&B relies on businesses to update their profiles. Small businesses (which may represent the prospects you are targeting to set up a referral agent program) may not have the wherewithal or desire to keep their D&B profile current. The accuracy of the lists you purchase may ultimately be held hostage to the prospectís ability to update their business profile. Be sure to find out how often the lists are updated before you make the purchase.

Database marketing and the ensuing technology is a quick and inexpensive way of creating a direct mail campaign. Iíve read statistics that state the average response rate to direct mailings is 1 Ė3 percent. If you havenít done one in awhile, now may be the time to do so. Our industry has never been short on marketing.

Manny Hondroulis is marketing manager for Energy Performance Distribution in Baltimore. Mr. Hondroulisí opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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