Full Circle Marketing Improves Customer Profitability

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With so much information stored in databases today, it's important for businesses to unlock the customer profit potential by effectively using the valuable information they have gathered to improve the bottom line. A concept called "full circle marketing" can help. It includes the iterative process of analysis, planning, executing and tracking that gives you better information on which to base your marketing and sales campaigns and ultimately your business decisions.

The basic principle is that your best prospects will always closely resemble your best customers. The goal is for sales and marketing professionals to base their decisions on facts rather than on what they feel will bring them great results. Employing the full circle of marketing allows companies to increase ROI by better using the information stored in databases. Many sales and marketing professionals do not realize that they may be wasting up to 50 percent of their efforts on costly activities like mailing to prospects who will never respond, calling leads who will never spend a dollar with them and assuming they know exactly who their best customers are when, in fact, they really don't.

The best place to start is to analyze your customer base and determine key traits held in common by your best customers. Consider business demographic elements such as industry, size and location. Then use this information to find prospects who look just like your best customer profile. Once the target market is defined, start planning the campaign and developing a marketing offer that is customized to meet your target audience. Determining how to reach your audience is the next step, by choosing which publications to advertise in and figuring out the best sequence of contacts, i.e. call-mail-call, versus mail-call-mail. Next, set your testing budget and anticipate what kind of return you will get.

Once these steps are completed, it's time to execute the plan by obtaining lists, designing mailing pieces, queuing telemarketing calls, qualifying leads and making sales calls. When possible, test various lists, offers, cadence, and creative treatments on a sample of your population before targeting an entire group. Compare the results from each test and make more informed decisions next time. Don't be afraid of cutting down the number of pieces you mail in your targeted campaigns. That is the goal -- more qualified responses from less output. Fewer, more qualified leads will result in a higher close rate than lots of unqualified leads.

Tracking the results from every campaign will help improve the results for future campaigns and further increase the ROI. This step consists of measuring response, profiling responders, calculating the returns and building a profit model.

The end result of full-circle marketing is measurable. By analyzing and planning first and executing and tracking later, marketers can hone selling strategies and maximize marketing dollars. Companies will stop pursuing dead-end leads and sales-conversion rates will rise. Highly targeted marketing programs bring the company better results and reduce the time, postage and materials that are wasted on prospects that are never going to buy from you. Finally, the bottom line will improve as companies no longer focus on unprofitable customer segments and instead identify and pursue their most profitable markets.

Full circle marketing allows companies to sell more and spend less by helping them look carefully at where they've been successful in the past and applying what they've learned to improve results next time. Companies need to make their past marketing and sales efforts work for them to increase their ROI today and in the future. Unless you have done the analysis up front, you may not know which direction to take. The key is knowing what you did right the first time, and then doing it again and again and again.

Jennifer Sprague is vice president of marketing at iMarket, Waltham, MA, a provider of information-driven marketing solutions.

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