Do you call it a contact list or a database?

Before you answer that question, think of what is in a mailing list. There is the contact name, address, city, state, zip code, phone number and maybe a few other specks of information.

Got it? Now forget it. That is so-old school and it left the building with your old desktop computer.

Today, that type of mailing list is outdated. There are many different channels to communicate with your customer. You need to have more customer information than what you typically find in a mailing list to achieve successful marketing … or you and your business will fail.

The biggest problem with the word “list” is that it means things to do which usually are never fun. When you hear the word “list” do you think of laundry list? Or, how about my favorite, the honey-do list? “Honey, honey can you hear me? I have a list of things you need to do around the house this summer?”

I know what you’re thinking while in hiding. I’ll get around to it when I have some spare time. Right?

When you come out of hiding, you need to start a fresh round of thinking. A marketing list of names is a valuable asset that can be worth a lot more in revenue once you start to mold your list into a powerful database system. You need to collect more information and analyze your data.

Maybe this will help. Think of your customers and prospects as a group of poker chips. Different colored chips have different values. Just like your customers. And that means they all have value to your organization.

With chips you arrange them by their value, what each chip is worth. See you’re starting to feel better already by forgetting that dreaded “L” word. You can even visualize a stack of chips, or better yet, two, three or four stacks of chips. All of these chips placed together have a lot of value to you and your organization.

Where does this value come from? Is there a place to cash in the chips? Well you need to build value and that takes a bit of work. Such as creativity, analysis, assumptions and data fields.

If this is starting to make sense to you, the next step is to start converting your list to a database and banish the word list forever.

Usually there is a little hesitation and I’m asked,  “How do we get to use this value you are talking about? Is there a place to cash in the chips?”

Well there is, but as I said before, to build value in your chips it takes an effort on your part. Instead of thinking about withdrawals from each chip, think of these chips as cash reserves in your “databank.” They are always earning cash as a result of your marketing efforts.

I define a databank as a grouping of companies (business-to-business) or household (business-to-consumer) names compiled into fields that are required to be broken down into specific marketing segments.

Let me give you an example. A company, named ACME, manufactures widgets, and has 1000 contacts in their mailing list. To start the database building and segmenting process, Alan Acme, divided the contacts into four groups by the following definitions:

  1. Customers, they know what widget they want.
  2. Consumers, they are not sure what widget they want.
  3. Prospects/past customers who re-purchase on occasions within 12 months.
  4. Someday is the last group of contacts who have bought, but not within the past year.

Alan set up these four fields in his database and discovered he had 300 customers, 400 consumers, 200 prospects/past customers and 100 someday contacts.

Alan, from his customer service duties at ACME has learned that consistent communication with his contacts is necessary to sell more widgets. When customers need a widget, Alan wants to make sure the process is simple and fast for each customer to place an order.

This is only the start of Alan’s journey on building the company’s database and getting the word “list” out of his vocabulary.

By now, you may have guessed a few more ways for Alan to further segment his contacts based on the described data. Use the comment section below for your ideas. Each person making a comment will receive a copy of the next few steps Allan took on further segmentation.

Soon Alan can start withdrawing some of his “chips value” through each sale of a widget. As Alan moves forward with other segments and using more relevance in the messages he sends out to the contacts, the assets of the database continue to grow. And so is the data and Alan’s decision making.

Getting back to your other list, the honey-do list, I can only recommend one thing. Either do it or hire someone to get it done for you. Those are the only two options you should consider. Don’t blame me for the consequences if you try something else.



© 2012 by the Marketing Communications Group, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or reproduced in any way, including but not limited to digital copying and printing without the prior agreement and written permission of the publisher. Photographs are purchased from such companies as I-Stock, Windows Clip Art or John Deuerling.

It’s All About Copywriting Attracting Customers

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30+ years in marketing. 30+ years as a small business owner. Love music, photography, gardening and just about anything outdoors!

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