Editor’s Notes: Beyond the Numbers
This month’s cover story on developing the most effective prospecting strategy based on analysis of your costs, response patterns and risk tolerance (“Prospecting Done Right”), hammers home two big truths:
• You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
• To succeed, you have to put in the work.
Analysis is tedious work. But smart prospecting isn’t just about profitability ratios. There’s another kind of risk tolerance to keep in mind: Your audience’s ability to tolerate the volume of marketing messages directed at them. Earlier this year, market research firm Yankelovich polled about 600 consumers on their attitudes toward marketing and advertising efforts. More than 60 percent said they find marketing and advertising to be out of control. The kicker: Nearly 60 percent of respondents reported that most marketing and advertising is not relevant to their wants and needs.
If consumers are intolerant of irrelevance, what must they think of marketing practices that suggest incompetence or disregard?
For example, Chase Manhattan Bank could be commended for including free address labels in a recent credit card promotion, a nifty idea it borrowed from the fundraising arena. But the novelty wears off when a prospect receives three of this same mailing within a few weeks, suggesting that either Chase is OK with wasting dollars on redundant mail contact, or that its direct marketing staff doesn’t know how to make sure duplicate records are removed from its mailing files. The average consumer may not know about the standard process for renting lists and preparing a mailing file, but he would have to ponder whether Chase did or did not mean to mail him the same effort once a week for nearly a month.
It is possible to get off the merry-go-round of sliding response rates despite increases in prospecting efforts, as this month’s cover story will demonstrate. When you prospect more efficiently, you’re better able to invest in the kind of testing that leads to more targeted campaigns. And that’s an outcome everyone can tolerate.