A database is your own private weapon in the battle for business. It is a source of information, usually computerized, compiled about your own customers, past and present, and also about people you have reason to believe are genuine prospects. You place into it as many appropriate specifics as you can, including information about past purchasing patterns and whatever else may be relevant to making a sale. (For example, some products or services might suggest recording customers' birth dates, and mailing to them around that period.) Your database will help you identify your most responsive targets, and send out appropriately targeted messages.
It provides a level of targeting and personalized selling that's been a dream of direct marketers almost since the field began. Thanks to today’s sophisticated yet inexpensive computer technology, it can be expedited efficiently, simply, and more effectively. Database-driven Direct Mail is a superb tool for generating efficient responses, strengthening customer relationships, and settling the foundation for even more powerful marketing programs in the future. Database-driven marketing is heralding in an exciting new age for direct marketers some might even call it a revolution rife with opportunities that were never possible before.
You can glean information from your own customer files, records, sales force contact reports, or warranty cards, servicing reports and application forms. You can also gain valuable information from questionnaires, either ones that accompany a product (for example, on a warranty card) or ones that you include in your mailings. (To entice people to fill out a survey, you may want to offer a bonus or a modest gift. The resulting data can be well worth the small investment.) Outside sources may also provide lifestyle information that can be overlaid on your database.