The legends of advertising always made a point of not wasting money on campaigns that do not work. A great deal is resting on the success of your promotional efforts.
To get the most bang from your advertising buck, and find new customers who will stick with you, you need to send out very targeted mailings, whether it’s through direct mail or email. You don’t want to send your mailings haphazardly to people in general. That would be a waste of money. You want to invest your money and efforts into your very best prospects.
But how will you know who they are?
Your Existing Customers – Your Key to Finding More Just Like Them
Your best bet for finding great prospects is to find people who are just like the people who are already proven to be consistent buyers – your existing customers.
But how much do you really know about your existing customers, other than the fact that they seem to like your product? How old are they? What is their income level? Do they have large families, or do they live alone? Do they own or rent their homes? What kind of jobs or careers do they have? Do they have any hobbies or interests?
It’s important for you to know all this because if these are your best buyers, then all you have to do is find other people who are just like them, and chances are they could turn out to be buyers as well.
Once you have a complete description of your existing customers you can:
- Find new lists to mail to that have similar characteristics.
- Tailor your advertising materials to those customers. For example, if your best customer is 60 years old, you can refer to cultural events that appeal to people that age. With that knowledge, you can make sure the type face on the sales piece is large enough to be read by aging eyes. But if your best customer is 30 years old, you would want to gear the writing and the layout of the piece to someone younger.
But now you may be thinking: “I really have no information about my customers. I have some intuition about who they are, but I don’t know for sure. And I certainly don’t know anything about their other interests. What am I supposed to do? Interview all my buyers?”
You certainly could send out surveys, conduct interviews, focus groups, and more… But I doubt you have that kind of time! There is a faster way…
There is a process known as “modeling,” which will get you information you need to identify your best prospects and prepare the most effective message that will reach them and appeal to them.
What Is Modeling?
There are a number of data companies that have plenty of information on large numbers of individuals. A few of these companies are Epsilon, Experian, and Equifax. But there are others out there as well.
Just to give you an idea of how much information these companies have access to, Epsilon is North America’s largest survey response database covering over 35 million households, and 65 million individuals. It holds information on 1,000 data points, including attitudinal and behavioral measures. The chances are that you yourself are in one or more of these databases.
Where on earth do they get all this information on us? Well, we provide it ourselves! All this information is gathered from a large number of consumer and business data cooperatives. That means a lot of the data came from places like warranty cards and surveys that people fill out.
Have you ever gone into Sears and purchased a new washer and dryer? If you have, there is a good chance the appliances came with a warranty card that you filled out and sent back to the manufacturer to initiate your warranty.
Some of the information is necessary, like where you bought the items, date of purchase, your address and phone number, etc. But most of these cards ask questions about additional information that has nothing to do with your washer and dryer. They might ask about a person’s age, income, hobbies, and interests. And many people provide all those details without thinking twice.
All that information you put on your warranty card and mail back is then sold or shared with companies like Epsilon and Equifax. And these companies enter that information into their pool of data where now it can be sorted into large numbers of categories and analyzed as needed.
Okay, so there you are with your own house file of 20,000 customers. You don’t know anything about these people except that they bought your product. You want to know more about them so you can target your marketing efforts to other people who have their same characteristics.
So what’s the next step?
It’s pretty simple for you. You send your 20,000 names to one of these huge data companies, let’s say Epsilon. They run your 20,000 names against their file of maybe 30 million names and see how many of your 20,000 are in their larger database.
Maybe they find 5,000 matches. And while you didn’t know anything about these 5,000 people, Epsilon knows a lot about them. They can tell you their average and range of ages and income. They can tell you how large their families are, what kind of home they live in, what hobbies they have, and maybe even their health problems and where they make charitable donations.
As a result of performing this modeling operation, you can get a pretty good picture of what your own buyers look like, and what type of person you should be targeting in your future mailings.
But what’s the best way to use all of this information?
First, you can tell your list broker exactly what characteristics you’re looking for in the mailing lists you will be buying. This will increase the effectiveness of your future marketing efforts.
Second, you can start using your knowledge of your best buyers, their likes and dislikes, their interests, their demographics, to write and design sales copy and websites that will be more appealing and motivating.
That’s enough for now. In Part 2 of this 2-part series, I’ll share with you some fascinating information I learned from modeling a house file that opened up a whole new population to us that proved to be excellent buyers. I’ll also look at some refinements to modeling that can help you make profitable use of this revealing method.