Database Marketing - Making Better Decisions (414 words)
by Alan Weber
There is a revolution going on in database marketing, and it's not about making computers go faster. It is about making people smarter. Based on the idea that bringing decision makers closer to the knowledge in the database will enable better decisions, radical changes are now being made in how marketing decision support is done. Instead of computers that think for them, decision makers want the information brought to their desktop, so they can make the best judgement calls possible.
At one time, database marketers judged service bureaus based on what they took away—problems with data storage, programming and other technical areas that are quite irrelevant to a company's marketing strategy. Now they are judged based on what they give back to the organization—ideas, discoveries, ways to build new strategies. No longer are they the "back room" analysts. Database experts are becoming full-fledged partners in how the business plans its business.
Not too long ago, data interfaces for marketers were of the gerbil-on-a-treadmill variety. Yes, the screen looked nice, but all it did was feed to some programmer somewhere who would carry out the instructions. No real-time, real interaction—just bells and whistles. Today, real analytical tools are becoming available for marketers that fit their way of thinking, interacting and probing. In other words, the programmers are doing their work before the questions are asked—not after!
Statistical modeling capabilities have improved dramatically along with the increases in computing speed. With the greater capacity comes the chance to take modeling to the next level—going beyond selecting names from a list, or scoring a file, to changing how and when customers are contacted. Going from a campaign-focused to a lifetime-value-focused database is making for better:
• Focus on customers form different sources.
• Communication from different types of customers.
This new "desktop database marketing" represents a new focus—on the decision maker not the computer. The computer is merely a tool to help make better decisions.
The effectiveness of any service bureau, software tool or piece of hardware should not be evaluated based on how large or efficient the computer resources might be. They should be judged by how effectively they produce better decisions.
Alan Weber is vice president of database marketing, for J. Schmid & Associates, in Shawnee Mission, KS. Weber is co-author (along with Jack Schmid) of the book "Desktop Database Marketing" (NTC/Contemporary). He can be reached at (913) 385-0220 or by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.