ABC: Always Be Compiling

One of my lasting recollections from yesterday’s elections was how effectively the Obama campaign used its database.  I never made a donation.  I never attended an event. I never even talked with a chugger.  All I did was forward a laugh-out-loud viral video to my wife and I was hooked.

Early yesterday morning I received an email from the campaign reminding me that it wasn’t over yet and there was still time to send that viral video to friends.  They were encouraging me to send to ten friends and they would send it to ten friends…You get the idea.

We all know that identifying a target market is imperative to any marketer.  That is frequently followed by the slow, painful process of compiling a list of likely targets or a “prospect universe”.  Whether you build it yourself or buy it from a third party, it is often difficult to capture more than 75% of a population.  Each new data source shows diminishing returns so you need to think creatively about how to source new names.  Inbound and outbound marketing helps but the acquisition costs can be prohibitive.

This viral Obama video was impressive.  I didn’t hesitate to forward it on and unwittingly gave them my name for a future appeal (OK, I should have read the privacy policy more carefully).  Getting people to share their name and interests in exchange for information or entertainment is a proven acquisition technique and we just witnessed a group that mastered this art.

Can you suggest any other creative examples of ways to economically build a prospect database?

Author: Frank Days

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  1. When I ran marketing for a competitive phone company called (ahem, not so competitive anymore)… We ran a “the teleguard campaign” — this was before the “Do Not Call” list for telemarketers — we collected over 2 Million names and email addresses and phone numbers from people online and sent their info to the DMA, as well as all the big telemarketing shops telling them “DO NOT CALL THESE PEOPLE!”… In exchange for their participation, we gave them value by working on their behalf, and they became members of the service which allowed us to negotiate better rates (in bulk) with the big long distance carriers, which we passed on to the consumer. It only works if you offer a win-win situation for all involved.

    – Patrick

  2. This video was a riot and I too fell victim to the viral effect.

    As a fellow marketer I often find myself feeling “guilty” when opting out/unsubscribing from promotional emails but honestly some do it better than others. An email every day is highly frustrating – does this really work for retailers?

    One economical way I’ve witnessed retailers (specifically) gathering contact information is flat out asking for it at POS before the transaction is made. I was getting used to being asked for a Zip Code, then my phone number, now I am bluntly asked for my email address. I’m surprised in myself how often I actually give them the information.

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