Clean Up Your B-to-B Sales and Marketing Database

Aug 07, 2006 8:51 PM  By

It can be a big waste of money and time to market to someone who isn’t there to receive your message. It can also be costly to keep mailing or calling contacts who are not interested in what you have to offer. So it’s important to keep your database clean. Here’s a few suggestions on how to do it.

First, consider what the minimum amount of information is you need about a contact to market to him or her. In today’s electronic world, you can send a marketing message to a contact with just an e-mail address or fax number. For these direct marketing solutions, you don’t even need a name, although it is impossible to personalize your message without it.

If your marketing programs include direct mail sent via the U.S. Postal Service, you need an up-to-date address that meets postal standards and qualifies you for discounts on postage. Visit the USPS Web site ( for details about cleaning up your address records. In addition, search the Internet using key words such as “list clean up” or “database clean up” or USPS terms like “NCOA” (National Change of Address) or “CASS” (Coding Accuracy Support System).

If you need phone numbers, fax numbers, and e-mail addresses, ask the same vendors you found during your Internet search. They often provide this additional “appending” service as one of their direct marketing solutions. Or peruse the directories published by several industry magazines. Some of these directories are printed annually and are available for a nominal fee. Others are available for free in the back of the magazines or on the magazines’ Web sites.

If you need additional demographic information about the contacts’ or companies’ industry, size, etc. for your offers, check with some of the business database companies like Dunn & Bradstreet ( or ( Or contact the publishers of the trade magazines you advertise in. They may offer database services to their advertisers.

Another effective way to gather the correct data you’ll need for your marketing database is to ask the contacts themselves. Use the phone, mail, fax and e-mail to get in touch and ask contacts to help you update their records. Keep in mind that you’ll have to give them a good answer to “What’s in it for me?” if you want a response.

The best way to keep your list clean and up-to-date is to use it regularly. Every time you mail, fax, e-mail, or call, you’ll have the opportunity to ask more about the contact, get corrected addresses, and learn about those who have moved on. Every mailer should ask the recipient to let you know if address changes are needed. Every call should include the chance to “verify” the contact’s address or key bits of information in the contact’s record.

Work these practices into your direct marketing solutions strategy and you’ll start turning more leads into sales.

M. H. “Mac” McIntosh is president of North Kingstown, RI-based B-to-B marketing consultancy Mac McIntosh (