Database marketing is about creating customers. Once you have a customer, you have a first sale and an opportunity to make the second, third, and more sales over time. If you settle for a single sale but lose the customer, you must start over and resell each and every time.

Creating customers will help you maximize sales by establishing and nurturing customer relationships. The tool used to do this is the database. It is the means by which you can build a long-term, interactive relationship between your product and your consumers. It will allow your business to become a more efficient and effective communicator with customers and prospects.

Database marketing is a combination of strategic marketing planning, creative communications, data, technology, and statistical analysis techniques. All are critical for the success of any program.

One of the key analytical techniques used in strategic planning is the MOST Analysis: This helps to clarify where the business intends to go (Mission), establishes the goals that will help to achieve this (Objectives), analyzes what options there are for proceeding forward (Strategies), and determines how these strategies are going to be put into action (Tactics).

The key is for this whole process to hang together from top to bottom and also in reverse: From the top, clarifying the mission drives the objectives, which creates strategic options, which forces tactical actions to be taken; from the bottom, every action at the tactical level should help to make the strategies work, all strategies should help to achieve the objectives, and all the objectives should take the business towards the mission.

Businesses fall into many traps by attempting to tackle strategy internally:

  • Getting distracted from moving the business forward by day-to-day actions or demands from customers, suppliers, and competitors

  • Failing to clarify where it wants to get to and in what timescale

  • Failing to secure board and management agreement for the mission

  • Not clarifying the key objectives that need to be reached (and in what timescale) for the mission to be successful

  • Not getting external and objective assistance in analyzing the strategic options available to satisfy the key objectives

  • Missing out the strategy stage altogether by going straight from objectives to tactics, which leads to a lot of dead ends

  • Not ensuring that everything done at tactical level helps to ensure success of the strategies

  • Failing to properly define timescales, responsibilities, monitoring, and control procedures to ensure that implementation moves forward at the necessary speed

External strategic planning helps companies avoid these traps and keeps the business moving forward with a sense of urgency and in a clear direction that "hangs together," from Director to ticket booth sales.

The following example (for a professional sports team) is a detailed listing of the types of planning and analysis that is necessary to retain customers and prospect for new ones, while keeping cost to a minimum.

120 Hours for Pre-Analysis (One-Time)

To successfully target new attendees, you need to find out who the current and past attendees are. This will include completing several types of analysis on the ticket holder database: MOST analysis, customer segmentation, RFM analysis (recency, frequency and monetary), and demographic and psychographic analysis.

After completion, a 360-degree view of each of the different attendees should be completed.

5 Hrs of List Procurement (per Game)

The most effective way to proceed in this situation is to look at the organization's needs on a game-per-game basis. The reason is that it's much easier to reach and exceed goals in a smaller, more targeted program then one that is too broad.

In addition, when purchasing names (whether direct, email or telemarketing), you will be able to keep costs down because you will be using exact numbers and therefore will not accrue an increase in expenses for purchasing too many names.

5-10 Hrs of Post-Analysis (per Game)

In post-analysis you will be able to see which lists/media proved to be the most successful and then continually tweak which names and which outlet you use to target future attendees so that you are always getting the best possible return on investment. Due to the complexity of the buy (i.e., the more lists from different sources and mediums), the longer it takes to come to a conclusion on what worked and what did not.

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Scott Petinga is headquartered in Plymouth, MN. For more information, visit Read more of Scott's writing on the MarketingProfs blog, the Daily Fix.