Does Your Recipe Call For Chopping Up Contacts For Effective Customer Marketing?

Arturo F Munoz Open QuoteHe who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.

-- Leonardo da Vinci

It's Not All About The Marketing Database

What has been a fundamental problem in customer marketing? 10 to 15 years ago, had you been a direct marketer for a Fortune 1000 company, the problem was that may be you didn’t have a customer database to do effective marketing with.

Crucial customer data sat beyond your reach inside the bowels of some legacy monster system, jealously guarded by geeks who spoke in strange acronym-laden tongues.

customer marketing chopping blockAt best that was the world of client/server technology and at the time you needed to think of building a database where to store all pertinent customer details with which to discern behavioral trends and market demand inclinations.

At worst you were in a pre-Y2K world of mainframes and dumb terminals and still dependent on having to sit for ages in a queue to receive flat-file extractions like manna from heaven, only to fuss about how inadequately it met your expectations and how woefully inefficient the entire list generation routine was.

But in our brave, new world of broadband, on-demand, everything-Internet and Rapid Application Development, your most likely current state is not the absence of a customer database. It is instead your having to contend with countless customer databases scattered all over your company.

The Customer Is All In Pieces

Whereas a decade ago you only had access to one fragment of your customer’s profile, today your customer profile is in fragments all over the company and you have access to every piece but not to an overarching whole. However, you were hired to generate demand and not to play with a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. If you’re a marketer and not a technologist, what are you to do?

There is no easy answer to this. Any way you slice it you must realize that, as a marketing project manager, you have the responsibility for ensuring that whatever action you take to invest company resources in customer marketing for demand generation, you’re to base it on an integral view of the company’s customer demands. How else can you claim that you’ve made a fiduciary decision to favor customers based on integrity?

The Marketer Is Falling Apart Too

Most customer marketing managers that I speak with nod reluctantly in agreement when I ask "Shouldn’t you rely on an integral view of your customer demands to reach them with company funds effectively?" They view it as a principle worth compromising whenever the choice lies between either hurriedly spending the budget on an ill-conceived, ignorance-riddled promotional program versus having to hold back on executing what they were hired to do – marketing programs.

Yet no sooner have these marketers executed on such a "targeted" campaign than they initiate their genuflections to beg for evidence of ROI on their promotional investment with which to justify their job’s existence. What is shocking is the frequency with which I encounter that look of bewilderment when they can’t explain why the marketing results for their promotions are so paltry.

I have news for you, dear response manager: The integrity of your target-customer’s profile is your responsibility. The return on your company’s customer marketing investment in the promotions that you manage depends on it. So you better be prepared to deal squarely with these integrity issues. You simply cannot execute on a program with any expectation of success without first securing an integral, multi-dimensional view of your target- customer.

Arguing that you are in marketing and, therefore, don’t have technical expertise is a red herring; a terribly inadequate distraction that is losing its appeal in what is today a seriously harsh economic climate in the highly competitive field of customer marketing. If you embrace this harsh reality and confront the challenge before you, an exciting path nevertheless opens ahead, because knowing your customers is everything, whether you know technology or not.

Salvation Comes From Your Model Customer

On the table there is always an offer available to you.

Ideally you can opt for building a model of your customer, based on assumptions that you know well to be true and which you can try to replicate in tangible form, by either finding data within your company or by creating it through customer research and surveys in order to put together a small though sound customer database to benchmark performance and execute your promotions against.

Conversely, you could opt for hunting for all sorts of data captured by all kinds of customer-touching systems in your company in a likely futile attempt to congregate an ever-changing hodge-podge of disconnected facts out of which you’d try to “discern” or mine some valuable truth about your customers. Yet what you’re really doing in this case is projecting your own interpretation (including prejudices) of these customer facts onto the data.

And who is to say that one additional bit of data arriving at the 11th hour might not blow out your entire initial interpretation and toss you right into a whirlpool of confusion?

This is why it’s vital for you to know how to model or theorize about your customers and to do so rapidly, reasonably and responsibly. That’s the foundation of marketing segmentation and what the game of targeting is all about. I’ll show you how.

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