Really, what is a world-class marketing database?
A world-class marketing database is an environment that has the ability to change and adapt in lock-step with your corporation’s changes while enabling you to learn from the data within it. This allows for better marketing decision-making capabilities, which in turn will tell you how to adjust your database.
A world-class marketing database is not just software; rather, it is a dynamic, living organism composed of marketing database strategists, architects and developers who are constantly in touch with the direction of your corporation’s marketing efforts, sales initiatives and goals.
Here’s the truth: There is no turnkey, world-class database that will handle any and all of your marketing needs and will maximize the ROI of all your marketing efforts. That said, the name of the game is maximization of profit, not just increased response. In order to achieve that, a customized marketing database that can grow, change, and adapt to your business’ needs is crucial.
Your company’s mission, vision, product line, sales channels and current and future customer base will drive your world-class database. If you find yourself saying, “But all of those aspects change over time,” you’re on the right track. Those things do change, which is why your database needs to be able to change and grow, not stagnate and hold you back.
The road to any world-class database starts with a definition of your marketing needs and goals, both short- and long-term. From there, a discovery phase should take place. Something as simple as a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) data analysis of your current marketing efforts will help uncover gaps in your existing strategies. A side-by-side comparison of your marketing strategies can help you identify overlap. If you have the budget for hiring a consultant to help identify existing data stores in your organization outside of the marketing arena, this can help save both time and money.
A common misconception is that a database professional should be able to quote a solution like a contractor. The difference is that a contractor already knows what materials are needed to build a house based on what the architect has laid out in blueprints. Up-front pricing is impossible for database marketing because the software systems and data repositories are unknown at that point.
The fact is that your company will spend as much — and likely more — time and money on trying to fit your data into a one-size-fits-all database as you would building a database that is designed to fit your specific and unique marketing needs. While your cost in developing a database solution will go down, your cost in support, license upgrades, and report development will likely go up.
Some developers believe the solution is a turnkey, one-size-fits-all CRM database utilizing simple querying and point-and-click campaign creation. Sales people often champion the “standard” methodology that their database team uses to store and track marketing initiatives and responses.
Both are wrong.
A world-class marketing database is simply a database that meets all of your marketing needs, whatever those needs may be.
Shay Young is a senior database analyst for Euro RSCG Discovery. Reach him through Ashley Stewart at Powell Communications: [email protected].