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Mapping Saves Money, Targets Marketing Messages

Companies can effectively fine-tune and target their marketing messages through mapping their customer databases.

Taylor Made Golf Co. Inc., Carlsbad, CA, offers collections of women's and children's clubs, putters, golf bags and golf apparel. The company, owned by sports conglomerate Adidas Group, sells its products worldwide to professional players on every major tour.

Taylor Made realized it was not cost-effective to cover the entire United States with advertising that is relevant only to a specific segment of consumers. Instead, it wanted to target its advertising through localized media, which required more detailed analysis of specific geographic markets.

To conduct such an analysis, Taylor Made acquired database mapping software from Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. and used it to map current sales of each product line on a county basis; map the geographic locations of known avid golfers, also on a county basis; overlay the two to determine local market retail sales share; determine other geographic locations with demographics similar to known areas of avid golfers to target potential new customers.

“A customer list is a set of people who have grouped together all on their own, according to a pattern,” said Geoffrey Hollander, president of Mail Pouch, Lake Oswego, OR. “A marketer's first job is to figure out what that pattern is.”

Before mapping its customer database, the company knew its average market share for each national product line. But Taylor Made did not realize that product lines' sales share within distinct local markets varied widely from the national average. This key insight, obtained from database mapping, enabled the company to revise its advertising — crafting and directing local creative content with distinct, targeted messages based on the particular audience.

Markets with high levels of current customers now receive a different message from markets with high levels of potential customers, said Kevin May, assistant manager-direct marketing at Taylor Made.

Preliminary sales results from campaigns implemented according to this revised advertising strategy are very encouraging, May said. Other benefits of this strategic shift include making the media dollars spent in each local market more effective at selling to the specific audience, and reduced waste in media spending.

Finding the critical customer pattern in business-to-business marketing is especially difficult for Dialogic Communications Corp., Franklin, TN, which targets business prospects in more than 14 distinct vertical markets.

A leader in interactive call-processing solutions, DCC provides software and services to more than 800 customer sites worldwide. Among its vertical markets are aviation, chemical, emergency services, financial services, medical, military and telecommunications. DCC products include The Communicator!, a powerful, NT-based on-site emergency notification system, and Scenario, which is aimed primarily at the healthcare industry to replace outdated manual phone call trees.

To locate prospects in an unusually complex market, DCC acquired a third-party business database early this year. Although it contained important new business information, the database did not permit DCC to compare current clients and potential customers on a geographic basis. The pointless expense of mailing twice to the same prospect, or even once to a business not interested in DCC's products, gave the company a strong incentive to keep its lists for mailings and telemarketing sharply focused.

To do this, DCC turned to ESRI's database mapping software with an extension that includes a list of 11 million U.S. businesses sorted by their primary federal government SIC codes. It mapped its current client list in a certain territory. Then, using SIC codes as the basis for a match, it overlaid on the first map a second one showing businesses that were similar to the previous list. The company also found it was able to map prospects in a discrete vertical market within a given geographic area.

“It's very powerful to see these two maps together on one page,” said Dave Krikac, DCC's vice president of marketing. “Visually, I could tell immediately where we were not hitting our potential customers.”

Mapping one or multiple databases gives companies an instant means to uncover entirely new locations for possible customers. “Mapping is a road to a new territory,” Hollander said. “You do it to orient yourself on where you are, and then mapping shows you where you want to go.”

Krikac now uses mapping software on a regular basis to develop maps of potential customers. He then exports the files of those business names to a contact manager to form the basis of either a mailing or telemarketing effort.

“I can execute my queries and customer profiles, map them geographically and then present them to my vice president of sales,” Krikac said. “This helps us focus our mailing and telemarketing campaigns precisely in those areas we most need to cover.”

According to Krikac, the major benefit to his company in database mapping is the near-instant ability to be more strategic and streamlined with the company's marketing efforts.

“Before database mapping, we were shooting at a blank wall and drawing a circle around what we managed to hit after the fact,” he said. “With database mapping, we now can target prospects precisely before firing. It's the right bullet for the gun.”

The bottom line, both for Taylor Made and for DCC: mapping customer databases saves money. It also makes time-consuming yet critical tasks quicker to complete, while offering better, much more easily understood results.

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