To Better Reach Small Businesses, Share

Traditional direct marketers must better integrate and “rethink” their direct marketing approaches if they expect to cost-effectively sell to small businesses, says Stephen Diorio, a partner in Westport, CT-based consultancy Profitable Channels.

Diorio contends that small businesses—companies with fewer than 100 employees—make up a $3.9 trillion market that has yet to be fully exploited. To help merchants better penetrate this segment, Profitable Channels and the Direct Marketing Association in 2004 assembled a group of small-business marketing experts in a half-day executive management session.

One suggestion that arose from the meeting: Share list with complementary partners. High-quality small-business profiles are a valuable but relatively scarce commodity. Profitable Channels estimates there are about 100 business-to-business marketers with customer files that exceed 500,000 names and only a few dozen with files of more than 1 million names.

In addition, business-to-business marketers have only recently focused on developing strong opt-in requirements and requesting customer permission to ensure a continued dialogue through online channels throughout the customer lifecycle. The group agreed that the list industry did offer some potential solutions to improve targeting, most notably in the form of shared (co-operative) small business databases currently being built by five database marketing service providers.

PS—You can read more about b-to-b cooperative databases in the September issue of MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT (“Co-ops Get Down to Business”)

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