The Rise of Co-op Databases
by Alan Weber
Those in direct marketing have always been different from those in other industries because they share data. At some level, every industry measures results and tests products, offers and media. Few industries, however, are willing to share customer data for the common good.
It is not difficult to understand why some marketers are apprehensive about sharing data. Look at the reaction in the general press when Double Click bought Abacus and attempted to combine Web and catalog behavior. The Supreme Court has recently taken away states' rights to sell driver's license and motor vehicle data, a veritable fountain of information for data compilers. Pressure for opt-in has become the norm, rather than the exception.
Despite what appear to be setbacks, many marketers are just now beginning to share data, and re-define the rules for direct marketing.
Follow the Niche
Few companies cover an entire market segment vertically. Most sell only a portion of a string of related products. The sellers of related products would do well to share information with one another.
As companies do a better job of capturing accurate transaction information, they build a valuable asset not only for themselves, but also for other marketers. Savvy marketers are looking for partners with whom they can trade their data.
Several of my clients do most of their prospecting by trading lists in vertical markets with non-competing companies. In each case, few of the lists are on the market; most are too small for a typical "minimum order," and the companies could not prosper without them.
In many areas it is getting easier to find companies willing to share information. The necessity to have good, actionable marketing data is driving many marketers together that before did not cooperate.
In the past few years, we've had the opportunity to be involved with the marketing databases for performing arts groups in more than a dozen cities. Upon reviewing the effectiveness of these campaigns, it is clear that those cities that have shared arts databases can market their services more effectively.