Survival Strategies for Small Direct Marketers, Part 1 (1,202)
It's important to note that the decision to hire doesn't always mean a full-time employee. Our industry is full of experts that have honed their skills and can provide assistance at many levels of involvement. Choosing the right consultant for the right job should always pay for itself.
4. Database blundering vs. database building
A major pitfall for small direct marketers and catalogers is a failure to capture, covet and cultivate data in a way that allows for consistent growth and intelligent decision making over the long haul. Especially in cases where the systems weren't in place when the business or concept was launched, consistent data capture and usage can be a problem. Remember, your customer list and the transactional data associated with it is one of your company's most valuable—and most perishable—assets. It should be protected, managed and mined for the greatest success.
A relational database as either a stand-alone application or as part of a larger catalog operating system will allow you to understand your customers' needs and wants, where customers are in their overall "lifecycle," how long a lifecycle is and opportunities waiting to be seized.
Every aspect of your business is affected by the data captured in the database—from marketing to merchandising and creative to customer service and operations. The database will tell you what offers to test, what merchandise categories to grow, which creative presentations are most effective and if there are problems with returns or cancelled orders. Most importantly, the database can tell you where the greatest opportunities are for growth.
Again, having the right equipment, the right controls in place to capture and evaluate data, the right systems in place to ensure the data are being incorporated and the right people to use the information to its potential, are critical.
5. Unrealistic identity