Database Marketing

Complex Variable Data Printing Made Easy

165493131 250x166 Complex Variable Data Printing Made EasyThe evolution of digital printing has transformed the world of direct marketing. No longer must the same static messages be sent to every customer on your mailing list. Instead, the use of customer information databases and variable data printing (VDP) allows a business to completely tailor the content of their mailing to each individual customer.

Complex variable data printing may sound difficult to implement, but with the right partner and the requisite data, it can produce an effective and profitable direct mail campaign that delivers superior response rates.

The Process

The VDP process starts with information. In fact, customer information is the real key to creating highly personal messages and delivering significantly higher results than traditional direct mail campaigns. With the use of multiple databases, a VDP campaign allows a company to combine the name, address and particulars of a customer with an ad specifically targeted to their needs and interests. The result is an ad that provokes a far higher response rate than traditional non-variable marketing pieces.

The Content

In addition to using the actual name of the recipient, VDP should also reference their geographic area, the past purchases, their buying behavior, personal interests and other specific traits.  The key is to collect a lot of information on your customers or prospects and use that information to create a personal experience for the recipient.  In this particular application, content is certainly king as it can grab the attention of the recipient and ultimately lead them to respond.

The Images

While words are the ultimate closer in a marketing piece, images are the attention grabber. Imagine that at a basic level a car dealer can send pictures of sports cars to the 18-25 demographic and sedans to the 40-50 crowd, but let’s add another layer of insight.  The car dealer sends a piece that is designed around the age, past purchase history, family status (whether children are present in the household), and income.  So now instead of just sports cars vs. sedans, we can target the right level of sedan and even offer a loan package based on general credit information.  This differentiation can mean the difference between a direct mail piece being read or being discarded – in other words, the difference between success and failure.

The Follow Up

One of the more powerful benefits of VDP is that it can be constantly updated and customized to every potential client. Each time you send a mailing and get a response, the database is updated. In other words, you are constantly qualifying the desires and needs of your clients. With enough perseverance, you will build a true image of your client and be better positioned to convert them into a paying customer.

The Bottom Line

Variable data printing is a 21st century technology that no successful business can afford to be without. Utilizing the combined power of databases and the technological advances of digital printing allows companies to select, target and market to an incredible variety of customers on a very personal level.

Don’t be left behind when contemplating your next direct marketing campaign. Whether your business targets range from banking, insurance or casinos to non-profits and educational institutions, variable data printing can provide a very focused solution that generates excellent response rates, superior conversion and a whole new set of potential clients.

 

Does Your Data Support That?

mobile interface1 250x166 Does Your Data Support That?

Trends Marketing Needs to Stay on top of Due to Data

The whole “big data” phenomenon may be overstated in the business and tech media at this point, but for good reason: Companies are proving time and time again that a data-driven approach leads to smarter business decisions and often creates a competitive edge.

As a result, more businesses — even small and medium-sized businesses — are turning to solutions that help them harness the power of big data to do everything, from more accurately tracking inventory to listening and engaging in relevant online social conversations. As the data universe continues to grow exponentially, tools are rapidly being developed and deployed

More Data Regulations are Imminent

While the marketing and advertising industries successfully deflected major regulations in 2012 through intense lobbying efforts, new regulations in 2013 are highly likely to be passed due to the sheer number of bills and other initiatives currently in the works, along with the need for laws to catch up with the fast pace of innovation in this area:

  • Following the release in March 2012 of a two-year investigation on consumer privacy in the digital age, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission endorsed legislative action around data privacy, including the creation of “do-not-track” mechanisms in web browsers that help consumers opt-out of online behavioral tracking and targeting. Efforts by the industry to self-regulate DNT were stalled at the end of 2012; the consequence may lead to legislative action on the issue.
  • Retiring Democratic Senator from West Virginia, John D. Rockefeller IV, launched an inquiry into information brokers like Acxiom, Epsilon and Rapleaf last October to better understand their practices and determine if they handle consumers’ personal data appropriately.
  • Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) recently released a draft bill called “The Application Privacy, Protection, and Security Act of 2013,” or the APPS Act, targeted at creating guidelines for data collection, retention and sharing practices of mobile app developers. With other initiatives at various stages in the works, expect more attempts — and some successes — to introduce new marketing and advertising regulations in 2013.

Don’t Put Your Phone Down

The sheer size of the mobile audience, along with the diverse capabilities and immediacy that modern mobile technology can deliver, has prompted organizations to go back to the drawing board with their website and application designs to account for the unique features of mobile devices. Smaller screen sizes, touch interfaces, push notifications, location services … they are all pushing practitioners and technology firms to rethink their approach to design to help them reach their audience in a clear way.

It should be noted that the “large screen” desktop interfaces are not going away anytime soon, especially in the workplace, meaning that design ultimately needs to be multi-modal. Some companies are approaching this issue by building responsive layouts that automatically adapt depending on the browser or screen size. Others are taking a more piecemeal approach by designing for a particular channel or, in the case of mobile apps, designing for a particular device or operating system. Are you designing your multi-channel campaigns with mobile in mind?

Interestingly, some of the design elements born out of the necessity to create usable interfaces on smaller screens are now becoming common in designs for larger screens. The interface of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 OS is probably the starkest example of this phenomenon, but there are plenty of others. Forms are becoming less dense and easier to use due to the lack of space of many inputs and large drop-down menus, and icons are being designed and implemented in more meaningful ways to reduce interface clutter. In other words, mobile is driving more simplicity in interface design, which is a step in the right direction for creating more user-friendly digital experiences.

The Road Map for InfoTrends’ Digital Marketing & Media Trends (DMM) Consulting Service helps companies understand how to harness the power of interconnected media effectively to meet their business objectives. To read the full DMM report, visit www.infotrends.com.

8 Ways You Can Start Mining For Data

buried1 250x296 8 Ways You Can Start Mining For DataHave you ever felt discouraged by data? Well never again! Today’s marketing is all about reaching your target market in an effective way. Whether that is by email, direct mail or social media, you need to target your communication and personalize it to the individual through data. However, collecting and analyzing data can be so overwhelming that soon you could be buried by it. So the big question is how do you begin collecting adequate data to reach your target market?

While you may aspire to have the marketing sophistication of P&G or an Amazon.com, there are steps you can take to get started right now. Jeff Hayes, President of Info Trends, shares 8 points.

 

1. Make an inventory of your customer touch points.

Look beyond your customers’ age and gender. Dig deeper to find what really makes your customers tick. Collect data on how often your customers shop, what their average purchase is per visit and how long your customers spend in your establishment.

2. Figure out what data you have, what data you need and how best to collect it.

All fantastic marketing campaigns start with a game plan. Establish what data is already being collected by your P.O.S. or other systems, and then analyze it. Once you know what you are collecting, it is time to establish what you would like to know about your customers and then devise a solution to collect that data.

3. Collect and compile your data for on-going analysis.

The more data a company can gather and know about their customers, the better! In the beginning, make sure you data is compiling accurately to your analysis system. You do not want to waste time or data by not being able to format it correctly.

4. Analyze your data and develop a market segmentation scheme.

“Developing a new market segmentation scheme requires a structured process that yields actionable results. A new market segment must respond differently to variations in the product, marketing, and distribution mix compared with other customers in the market.”

5. Test various messages and promotional offers, and measure the impact.

Survey or interview your customers. A company cannot reach their customers if they do not understand their needs or desires. Send out different types of flyers and discounts to measure the response rate to each promotion.

6. Continue to refine your data collection, analysis and messaging.

“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” Hardly any project runs according to plan. Take the time to smooth out the bumps and get rid of the dead weight.

7. Get senior management involved – there will be cost and may be some internal “turf” issues that need to be resolved, plus you want their buy-in when the data challenges traditional assumptions.

The last thing you will want to do when working on a new campaign or project is to step on anyone’s toes. Talk through your plans and processes to make sure everyone is on the same page. This way the chances of a dispute are held to a minimum.

8. Consider working with an agency or consulting firm, especially to help you get started.

You don’t know everything and that’s okay. It is alright to reach out and ask for help. Smart people learn from their mistakes, but wise people learn from other people’s mistakes.

 

SOURCE: Market Segmentation, Info Trends, 2013

SOURCE: Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan, 2005

Predictive Personalization Essential for Casinos

analytics, predictive, decisionCasino operators have cued in to the importance of analytics because as little as one percent of casino customers can drive as much as 20 percent of the company’s revenue.

This fact alone has spurred casinos into building sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) systems to track and reward customer loyalty to increase the returns from select customers and retain them for the long term.

One tool being used by casinos is predictive analytics. Predictive analytics is using statistics to analyze current and historical facts to make future predictions about a customer’s behavior.

For some casinos, as little as a five percent improvement in customer retention can lead to a fifty percent gain in profitability. Author Clive Pearson explains in Double Down on Your Data that by using predictive analytics, Harrah’s was able to identify a small group of customers who accounted for 30 percent of their overall customers.

They then learned that these particular customers spent between $100 and $499 per trip but actually accounted for about 80 percent of the casino’s revenue and 100 percent of its profits.

By using data mining and predictive analytics, casinos keep their highest value customers happier longer and take high-value customers away from the competition. Furthermore, predictive analytics can help casinos pinpoint customers who are most likely to “defect” from the competition with enough lead time to allow casino employees to intervene and possibly retain these highly valuable, hard to recapture customers.

 

Which of the Three Predictive Analytics is Your Casino Using?

The world of data has evolved. In the beginning companies would look at past events to predict future activity as gleaned from information management systems from the 1970s. Then drill-down technology of the 1980s led to data warehousing, which allowed more complex data querying. Then predictive modeling and optimization rang in the new millennium.
Now you can use one of three types of data analytics:

  1. Predictive – using past performance to predict future customer behavior.
  2. Descriptive – identifying different relationships between customers or groups.
  3. Decision – using the above information to predict outcomes or complex decisions, relationships, products or processes.

Executed correctly predictive analytics can determine how much a customer is worth today and for his lifetime, which customers come together in groups, and which customer might abuse an incentive offer by using the free room and not gambling at all.

Pearson so eloquently puts it this way. “Do you want to lead the analytics horse to profitability…or follow it with a shovel?” The choice is clear.

6 Tips to Make Sure Your Variable Marketing Project Doesn’t Crash and Burn

148132648 250x166 6 Tips to Make Sure Your Variable Marketing Project Doesn’t Crash and BurnIf your business wasn’t part of the early adopters of variable data printing, this blog post is for you. This piece will keep you far from the technical grenades that can burn you if you don’t prepare your database or file correctly for hand off to your variable partner for execution.

Data First, Creative Second

Start with the data, which seems counter intuitive to agency people and small businesses. According to Kristen Miller, of Mail Print’s Client Implementation Team, successful VDP projects begin with data and then move into the creative process.

Ideally you’ll start with an accurate customer or prospect database/mail list. Ideally the dataset has more than name and address, like age, income, presence of children in the home, purchase history, or frequency of purchases.  Next you can decide what you want to communicate and pick which data fields you’re going to drop into your communication to personalize the marketing piece.

Dear {Name}, We hope this note finds you well.  Since you recently bought {Gift #1}, we thought you would be interested in {Gift #2}.

Prospecting vs. Retaining

Often times mailing lists purchased from list providers can be a great solution when you are prospecting for new clients beyond wanting to personalize a piece simply with someone’s first name. If your marketing strategy is to get St. Louis based, women, 40 years old and older, with household incomes of at least $100,000 to come to a plastic surgery seminar, purchasing a list may make sense.

If you are a plastic surgeon who wants to get existing patients to consider a second procedure or new aesthetic service, using your customer data makes sense. Choose your segment and write your marketing copy and select your graphics to truly speak to that particular group of people.

Maximize the Power of Variable

It can be very profitable to build a marketing piece that uses different images, colors, and messages to match the targeted segment.  The true value of variable data printing comes in being able to tailor a piece to engage a particular segment of your target audience.  Simply playing the “name game” is somewhat passé.  Your goal is to create a highly relevant mail piece so the prospect can envision using your product or service in a particular way.

Beware of Capital Letter Land Mines

If you had a single person input your CRM data, you are probably in good shape consistency wise. However, if multiple people in multiple states have added to the database, you may be plagued with names that should be spelled DeAnna, but may appear as Deanna (first letter capped only) or DEANNA, which often happens off purchased mailing lists.

Fixes for Common Field Land Mines

Miller says she sees several other common “field” related problems with the two dozen large variable projects she produces for clients each month. “Some clients will want to address the prospect by the first name, but their data field is set up as a full name field. There is no clean way to segment out Mr. Glenn Smith vs. Glenn Smith versus F. Glenn Smith.”

Rosanne Kirn, who works on Miller’s team, says another common problem occurs with the company field name. If a data entry person has put Sudsy Soap LLC in the company name but the client wants the marketing piece to mail to Sudsy Soap, you have an immediate problem.

The solution is to build an extra field and name it “Pretty Company Name” or “Variable Company Name” and key in the name of the company without all the window dressing of LLC, Inc, etc.

Don’t Send Unneeded Fields in Your File

Variable data projects can quickly come to a screeching halt if too much data is sent – enough to crash a system.

Miller and Kirn once dealt with more than one million data records from a local retailer. This isn’t a huge number of records until you multiply that by the number of fields, (over 1,000 in this case) attached to that record. Then things can get ugly quick.

Miller recommends reviewing your file and only sending the data fields that are needed to produce the marketing piece. This will keep the tab delimited, .CSV, or .TXT file size manageable and prevent unnecessary delays in your project.

Has Your Ad Agency Made These 5 Shifts to Stay with the Times?

1557864251 250x375 Has Your Ad Agency Made These 5 Shifts to Stay with the Times?During the Mad Men era of advertising in the 60s, an agency wouldn’t work on an account that didn’t have several million dollars in mass media spending power.

Then in the 90s, an agency wouldn’t work with a client that didn’t have huge budgets to build out an integrated marketing plan that included many expensive components, perhaps an annual report, image brochure, corporate video, and a website with static info that got updated once or twice a year.

Flash forward to 2013 where advertising agencies have divided into niche boutiques to deliver creative to specific industries like nonprofits, associations, environmental focused organizations, municipalities, school districts, or entrepreneurs wishing to launch a national direct mail campaign or international social media campaign.

Swings and changes in agency formation, focus, specialty and preferred client size or niche have been driven by four factors.

  • No agency can serve everyone, because no agency can be an expert in all channels and all industries.
  • Clients want to work with experts.
  • Clients want to work with partners not slick “ad men”.
  • Clients need quantifiable measurements every hour of every day, not award-winning creative.

If you’re on the agency side, how has your agency evolved? If you’re on the client side how have your needs changed and are you getting the right partnership you need to succeed in today’s collaborative environment?

SOURCE: Alexander “Al” DiGuido is an innovator in the direct response industry and in e-mail marketing methods. As of December, 2011, he is the former CEO of direct marketing company Zeta Interactive.

 

Here is what the future of marketing, direct mail, PR, and advertising will look like by 2015, according to Al DiGuido in Ad Age, Feb. 23, 2010.

1. Agencies Shrink and Coin Futuristic Titles

The smaller production fees of digital along with thinner margins are already driving the size of agencies down with the best and brightest not exceeding 100 employees.
New top tier job titles such as “chief choreographer” or “convergence experts” could replace creative directors and programmers, according to DiGuido.

2. Analytic Reports Replace Image Award Trophies

Soon results and ROI will be the only measures of success that matter, putting Plexiglas® trophy companies in search of new business beyond ad agencies.
Data will dominate all agency activity and analysis will drive strategy, not vice versa.

3. Technology Will Be Owned Not Leased

Further into the digital age, it will be necessary to own proprietary technology instead of partnering with third-party vendors, which dilutes margins.

4. Good Agencies Will Package Content and Make it Go Viral

Since content is king and the client must be a thought leader, the best agencies will help clients create content, market that content, then measure and even monetize it.

5. Agencies Will Form Relationships with Bloggers and Other Non Traditional Media Sources

Agencies of the future will help clients nail their target audience and omit the waste of a spot on a network or in the paper by introducing them to blogger sponsorships or guest column opportunities, according to David Siteman Garland author of Smarter, Faster, Cheaper, Non-Boring, Fluff-free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business.

Plexiglas® is a registered trademark of Altuglass International

SOURCE: 5 Predictions On the Future of Marketing, PR and Advertising from TheRisetotheTop.com.

Everything You Wished You Knew Before You Built Your CRM Database

crm, architect, building, customer relationship management, database, dataBusiness databases have moved beyond name, address, city, state and zip. Today’s savvy customer relationship management gurus capture purchase history, lifestyle, lifecycle, and lifespan info that enables them to engage, re-engage, and even dis-engage (that’s a fancy word for fire) customers when necessary.

Customer information that goes deep and reveals the lifetime value of that customer is imperative to long term business growth.  To capture and record this data, a good software package is needed, but selecting the appropriate tool can sometimes be confusing. There are a ton of SaaS (software as a service) solutions that may make sense.  Look into Salesforce.com, Sugar CRM, or Microsoft Dynamics.  Plus, don’t forget to study industry specific packages.  Be wary however of forcing the sales process to fit the CRM system.  A good CRM solution should be flexible enough to fit your processes.

 

Who Should Manage Your Database?

It depends. If you’re a small business with a seasoned marketing person on staff, you probably can manage it in-house. The bigger your customer base the bigger the task.

The job of the database manager is to (1) build or buy a database that can capture and contain the needed data fields you wish to monitor (2) modify the database to add new areas of interest or products as your business grows (3) backup the system regularly (4) update customer info, purge customer info or initiate re-engagement campaigns as customers go dormant.

The best B2B relationship management (CRM) databases will allow you sophisticated functionality like multi-level SLA support, customer satisfaction surveys, timer-based escalation rules that are driven by complex criteria and automated issue re-assignments.

Your CRM system should also allow you to integrate with other software tools like your ERP or software, business management solution, website software, email tool, and even your accounting package.

 

What is the Most Important Data You Must Know or Might Forget to Collect?

A good customer database includes these four basic areas:

  1. Financial: Revenue generated from the customer’s transactions.
  2. Demographic: Describing customers in terms of their personal characteristics, such as age, sex, professional activity, etc.
  3. Geographic: Describing customers in terms of their physical location.
  4. Psychographic or Behavioral: Describing customers in terms of their preferred activities and actions.

A great CRM database plan allows you to collect and monitor competitor price, market share, and product features. It also allows you to collect data on the number of customer transactions, stores visits, and why they leave.

As you can see, you must plan well to collect the metrics that will guide your business. Businesses that don’t have a good database system or customer relationship management system are at a disadvantage in today’s world. Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian, once said that “Datarati are companies that have the edge in consumer data insight. There has been and will continue to be an increased focus on data analysis as companies continue to invest in measuring social media, understanding customer value and modeling customer behavior.

 

What Should You Do With the Data?

Put it to work! The information you have gathered can be used to a great advantage. Look at what Amazon does with the data it collects as you shop their store.  Each time you search for items Amazon tracks and knows what is of interest.  Then, when you return, you are presented with items most likely to interest you.  That level of data capture is huge in working to drive a business.

Other organizations use that data to personalize their direct mail with Variable Data Printing (VDP) a method of printing personalized promotional material using your database. The effect of customers seeing their names and preferences in promotions can give you a higher response and purchase rate. This response rate has been estimated to be as high as five times greater than with traditional static advertising.

 

Building or Buying a CRM System

There are so many great systems available, it’s really not necessary to reinvent the wheel. However, shopping for the right one for your business can be daunting. So much like going to Consumer Report for research, you can go to CRM Vendor Comparison and download the 2011 CRM Vendor Comparison Chart that shows 40 hours of research and a comparison of 30 CRM systems that range in web application prices from $40 to $100 per month for usage rights.

Once you pick and install one, staying in sync with your customers’ buying habits through their lifecycle and creating alerts to build that relationship can steady your company in poor times and send it through the roof in peak times. It is important to be aware of clients who are increasing their spending, as well as those who are coming back less and less. In such cases, the database can create an alert to cue marketing to develop a bounce-back campaign.

Knowledge is power. Storing it in a pliable database gives you power and strength. Why? To compete, you will need to know more about your customers and use the information to talk, engage and interact with their customers more often and more meaningfully in new and innovative ways (including dynamic content, blogs to social media networks).

If you don’t talk to your customers in an engaging, intelligent way, your competitor will.

 

Variable Data Campaign Speaks Direct to Soy Bean Farmers

Mailbox, mail, data, inform, personalizeWith today’s technology, marketers don’t just get to personalize their message; they can personally tailor those messages. The technology is so slick, according to Dave Ward author of Variable Dating Integration – Taking You Wherever You Want to Go, your targeted messages don’t look like highly targeted messages, but like magic.

This magic worked well for PRO Seeds who turned an average farm journal into a marketing vehicle that spoke directly to their farm prospects – literally. Imagine that you run a 1,000-acre soybean operation in Canada. You come in after a hard day of chores, sit back in your recliner, put your feet up and start thumbing through your favorite agricultural magazine.

When you flip to page 12, something jumps right out and grabs your attention. There’s a postcard that is die-cut to look like a bag of soybean seeds – and it has your name on it. You can’t resist peeling the card off the page and finding on the back of the card three soybean seed varieties that are best suited specifically for your farming operation. (If you aren’t a farmer you may not realize that seed selection is specifically tailored to location, climate and soil.  All seeds are not created equal.)

You’re stunned. How could they know which seed varieties would work specifically for you; especially when you raise crops in five different heat zones? Behold the power of Variable Data Printing (VDP) or Variable Data Integration.

This is a true marketing campaign that worked wonderfully for PRO Seeds, who faced fierce competition for acres in Ontario where they only had 4% market share in 2011.

The campaign was a hit with farmers who loved the tailored messages specific to their farm, focus and heat zone. PRO Seeds experienced a lift in sales in regions where they had little penetration prior to this effort.

 

Ready to Harvest Your Clients Using VDP?

The challenge experienced by many marketers who want to execute a highly personalized campaign is the access to and quality of their database. Before executing a VDP campaign such as the one PRO Seeds conducted, you will need the following:

  • You must have the right data in the right fields.
  • Data must be properly and consistently formatted.
  • Data must be accurate.
  • Data must be useable in all of the required contexts.

Take the time to analyze your data to ensure the acceptability and accuracy of all substitutions. Don’t let bad data waterlog your campaign.

Variable Data Printing is a powerful tool that allows us to do some remarkable things, and the PRO Seeds card is really only one example of what can be done to tailor powerful messages for your customers.

In our 24 years of experience, Mail Print has found that VDP projects, should have the following elements:

  • The client or business must be open minded to delve deep into looking at all possible ways to pull the data available or gather the data needed to truly customize the marketing piece to address the customer or prospect on a knowledgeable, and in some cases an almost intimate, basis.
  • The client or business must want to innovate and lead with technology and be prepared for the work and rewards to ensure a successful campaign.
  • The client, agency or business must grasp the full scope – and magic – of what can be done with variable data.  Some campaigns we’ve executed include:
    • making covers of publications specific to each person or market segment;
    • making the tables, graphs, and figures in an insurance explanation brochure specific to that employee based on age, marital status, and worker class;
    • making a plastic surgery image brochure speak directly to the prospect who called in asking about a facelift, not lipo suction.

Like so many other endeavors, the success of any VDP project is as much in the details of the execution as it is in the creativity that inspired it.

SOURCE:  May 2012, Direct Marketing Magazine of Canada

 

20 Pivotal Questions to Ask to Build Your Ideal Customer Profile

tailor, building, profileIf your boss asked you to build a thorough customer profile, would it take you an hour, a day, or a week? More importantly how would you go about building this profile? Below is a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process.

It sounds simple, but do you REALLY know who your ideal customers are?  You should have a customer profile for each one of your products and services because it gives you a clear picture of who you’re selling to and allows you to develop strategies to communicate more effectively.

This is a vital exercise for all businesses.

20 Questions: Who Is Your Key Customer?

  1. What would a customer buy from you?
  2. What advantages do you want to sell them specifically? (Ex: If you sell air conditioning units, you are really selling comfort, cost savings, air purification, humidity control, no sweat stains, comfortable sleeping)
  3. Describe your typical customer.
  4. What is their age?
  5. Are they male or female?
  6. Where do your ideal customers live geographically?
  7. How do they earn a living?
  8. Describe your ideal customers’ likes and dislikes.
  9. Why would this person be interested in your product, company or service?
  10. Why would they buy from you as opposed to someone else?
  11. What does a customer want from your product or service?
  12. What makes your product or service more suitable to them than your competitors’ products or services?
  13. What are the most common specifications or types of orders your customers request?
  14. What factors are your customers likely to consider before making a purchase?
  15. What do they tell you they value about your deliverables?
  16. How will your ideal customer find out about your product or service?  What sites do they visit, what stores do they shop in, where do they get their coffee?
  17. What have your most recent ideal customers said about your product or service?
  18. How does the cost of your product/service influence your customer’s decision to buy?
  19. List all the ways you currently contact your potential ideal customers.  What is their preferred method of being contacted?
  20. What does your ideal customer tell you they value in your product or service?

Now you have a clearer view of your ideal customer (both hard and soft characteristics). Don’t go outside this target market.

 

Build Your Customer Profile Electronically in 5 Steps

Once you have answers to your customer profile questionnaire, it’s time to get your data into working order. If you don’t have an IT manager in-house, find a reputable vendor with strong service and tech background to assist.

  1. Hold a Scope of Work Meeting. Layout your core needs, including understanding your customer(s) and aligning your budget and goals. Discuss challenges like not having enough buyers or taking in orders far beneath set quotas.
  2. Hand off Your Customer Information. Give your IT manager or mail list processing partner all your customer information for the past 18 to 24 months. Provide everything, including name, title, phone numbers, email, mailing addresses and purchase history if available.
  3. Get a Snapshot Report or X-ray Report created of Your Ideal Customers. Partner with an outside mail list processing partner, and compare your file against a national database of businesses or consumers.  They will identify key characteristics of your current customer list. There are a lot of vendors out there, so if you need help picking a partner, call us, and we can help with the process. There are a lot of nuances in the variety of reports.  Be sure you understand why one type of report is better than another before selecting.
  4. Identify Key Data Elements in Your File. Pinpoint the common characteristics of your current customers, and use that information when you search for leads.  Now that you have a better understanding of who your ideal customers are, it should be easy to purchase a list of leads that match your customer profile.
  5. Reap the Rewards of Your Work. The end result is a perfectly clear image of your ideal customer profile from the database your customers were matched against. This becomes your target prospect pool, which is by far more rich and apt to bear fruit than any list you would buy based on simple selections of income/sales revenue or any of the various al a carte demographic characteristics available from a list broker.

Defining your ideal customer profile is Direct Marketing 101, and it will save you lots of time and money in the long run.

Source:  Reach Marketing

 

Why Should You Care that Mail Print Got an Operational Seal of Approval?

Audit AICPA SOC, Data, Security, Database, Management, Audit, The American Institute of CPAs awarded Mail Print its seal of approval for operational and system controls this summer. Before I lose you, let me tell you why this endorsement is a huge deal and impacts the way we do business together.

Data is often time the most valuable asset a company can own. Security and data privacy policies work to protect your customers from an accidental compromise of their sensitive information and adherence to strict regulatory laws. Keeping data secure can be costly, time consuming and a worry for companies that work with this type of information. A data breach can be a threat to an organization’s business, as well as to the personal lives of their consumers.

As a data-driven business, 85% of the files we print come directly off our client’s servers vs. being walked into our office on a portable file. Mail Print takes seriously the efforts of operating secure, safe, and efficient processes – especially since we are directly tapped into the servers of many of our clients. So to stay ahead of the risks associated with facility security, information systems, data communications, server integrity, and environmental controls, we voluntarily participated and paid for this third-party audit.

By having “all eyes” examine the general controls supporting our direct marketing and printing services, you can be assured that when working with us you will not receive a corrupt file, be exposed to a data breach, lost data, or delays in production because of risks we should have known about and addressed.

 

You Can Trust Us With Your Proprietary Information

Because the company pulls proprietary data directly from many of its hospitality, healthcare, nonprofit, and retail clients, we are particularly cautious. Mail Print allocates a percentage of their annual budget to ensure all systems are in place to secure the data and meet its customer’s deadlines.

“Our successful audit validates that we make the handling and security of customer data a top priority,” says COO Eric Danner. “We are one of the few in our industry that annually invest in third-party audits to scrutinize our processes, people and systems.”

Key findings of the audit Mail Print’s SOC1-SSAE 16 Type II Audit were:

Audit Findings What it Means to You
All servers and workstations use anti-virus protection, which conducts routine scans. You’ll never have to worry about corrupt files.
Critical company data is backed up, redundantly, from computers, workstations, shipping machines and presses. You’ll never have to worry about lost data.
Data classification methodology is used to identify and classify sensitive data in the production process We process but don’t look at sensitive data such as health care info or financial data.
Encryption methods are in place and utilized for processing and storing of sensitive data such as credit card and HIPAA-protected information Hacking won’t be a problem.
Our office is secure and employees are heavily screened and hired based on performance and ethics You’ll be working with stand up people.

Feel better? We know we do.