10 bright ideas

At the recent Fifth Annual Business-to-Business Database Marketing Conference, cosponsored by Catalog Age’s parent company,

PRIMEDIA Intertec, and the Direct Marketing Association, four b-to-b experts offered 50 database marketing ideas in one of the sessions. Below, 10 of the tips:

Louis Rolleigh, product leader, infobase business data products for Conway, AR-based list and database firm Acxiom Corp.:

* Consider sorting names by function (waste containment, accounting) rather than by title.

* Use your Website to gain detailed information on buyers (for instance, offer online buyers free shipping in exchange for filling out a questionnaire).

Robert Hacker, president, The Hacker Group, a Bellevue, WA-based b-to-b marketing consulting firm:

* Build open architecture database systems that are accessible to all relevant employees so that data is never held “captive” by any one department.

* Include a field for contact history in your database and track how many times you have to contact companies before they buy. This can help you determine which sort of prospects and customers need a certain amount of stimulous before buying.

M.H. “Mac” McIntosh, president of Redondo Beach, CA-based b-to-b sales lead consulting firm The Mac McIntosh Co.:

* Add your own field salespeople to your database so that they know when and what you’re mailing-catalogs, direct mail, fliers.

* If you’re not going to use your database at least four times a year, don’t even bother with maintaining it-rent lists instead.

John Coe, president of Scottsdale, AZ-based Database Marketing Associates, a b-to-b marketing consulting firm:

* Regularly verify customer information such as Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes and e-mail addresses. Have order-takers double-check data when customers call, and periodically perform outbound telemarketing to ensure that your data is up-to-date.

* Use bounce-back cards, postal updates, lists of trade show attendees, and reports from solved customer service problems to keep your database current.

* If you’re selling big-ticket, “budgeted” items, include in your database the fiscal year of the companies you’re selling to. Then go after them at different times of the year based on their fiscal years.

* Attach the SIC codes and employee-size data to company names to give you a measure of the opportunity of inquiries and leads before you contact them.

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