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Interquest Toronto 2012

July 3, 2012

So despite the fact that June was tough, I do want to say a few words about this year’s Interquest conference in Toronto. Better late than never.

Ryerson University has nice rooms

The official attendee count this year was 174, which is an increase from last year. There were also over a dozen sponsors, including the fine folks at GMC Technology. I’ll go into more detail on that in a bit.

Because I used to play in concerts to thousands I’m not often intimidated by an audience, but this was a big room full of grumpy people. I do sometimes wonder what makes printers grumpy. Then I remember their business is in decline, and they have to listen to cocky technology guys like myself go on about how email gets results and print is only one channel in the marketing media mix. Yeah. Ok. I get it.

What? I didn’t notice girls there…

My presentation was pretty short, and I had to talk a bit fast to get it all in. It was the same format as last year, a short presentation followed by a round table discussion.

Here’s me talking proudly about Varibase, trying to rush through a decade of expertise in a few minutes.

This year I had a couple of different questions about media substrate and the impact it might have on response rates. At Varibase we did have some anecdotal evidence that in some cases, luxury items like Jaguar or BMW vehicles or high end perfumes might indeed benefit from a higher quality paper, but we also know that response rates are adversely affected in other cases, and in particular for non-profit organisations, where a high end substrate might give the impression that money is not spent wisely.

The answer is to test. Response rates levers are always difficult to guess at. Don’t guess. Do what Reader’s Digest have done for decades, since they invented direct marketing. Test, test, test all the time. Test everything. Does a round sticker work better than a diamond shaped one? Test and find out. Better a white envelope or a coloured one? Test and find out.

I wish more customers would understand the importance of testing. I know that marketing is the science of making guesses about what people want and how they want to see it, but there’s nothing wrong… nothing wrong at all with getting some hard data, and using it to enhance response rates. Only you can’t do it without testing in your particular field, and with your particular group of prospects and clients. The test doesn’t even have to be large, just statistically significant, which could mean as little as 500 copies of a message treated or delivered differently. (Obviously a little more than that is nice and improves the confidence interval of any results)

So there it is.

If you have a marketing project, feel free to get in touch with me if you need some help with data, concepts, mechanics, technology or just doing research on relational marketing. I’d be glad to help.

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    Joanna Jul 03, 2012

    Isn’t it surprising that a data driven process requires more that just the data about the potential clients?! (Sorry for the sarcasm.) I would think that it should be obvious, since there has never been a perfect method of marketing, that testing to build data about the various aspects of a campaign would be necessary. Data is required of every possible aspect to determine which are statistically significant. It’s the scientific method, has been used successfully for more than a century, and has produced such wonders as the computers that we now use to compile our data.

    I suspect that there are several factors involved:

    1) People outside of data don’t understand it. Beyond finding methods to educate those who need to understand without them having to put in an effort, I can’t propose a solution.

    2) Lack of forethought. I fear that often there is a panicked realisation that a marketing campaign has to be out next month (or two months) from today, and yet it is only ever addressed in as a short term project. Marketing needs to be planned in advance, sometimes years in advance, and should maybe be considered an ongoing process, as opposed to a campaign being the ultimate result. (As in the opposite of, “Whew, I’m glad that’s over. Let’s get back to work. We don’t have to worry about marketing again for another…”)

    3) Ongoing resistance to spending money to produce marketing. I know that times are tough, and that it seems like there’s always some new gimmick coming down the pipe, but if you’re intent on making your business survive these days, you will have to spend money on marketing. The trick is to spend it wisely! (And this is the whole argument of data-driven marketing in a nutshell.) It is admittedly more expensive, but more cost effective, to target the consumers who are likely to buy what you’re selling, then to randomly carpet bomb an entire community. From that statement can be derived all the aspects necessary, which includes not only who your potential clients are, but why are they more likely to buy from you than from your competition, and in that, what attracts them to your business. So while having someone’s name, address, and a bit of purchasing history is powerful, it is not the limit of the kind of information you can gather. It is only the start. This is where testing of marketing materials comes in. While it may require a greater outlay of funds (though I think if designed as an ongoing process, the cost might be similar), it is overall a smarter and more effective way of bringing in business. (I wish I had some data I could quote to back this up…)

    The power of data-driven marketing is in the data! All the data you can muster!

    Alex Nuta Jul 03, 2012

    That’s very well said, Joanna.

    And you’re right. If you have an ongoing relational marketing program, the cost of data actually decreases over time, because analysis routines are automated and segmentation run live rather than manually analysed. While the initial investment is higher, a company who invests in an ongoing relational marketing program will find that it is able to amortize those costs over the first couple of years, usually, and then continue to refine their data all while reaping the benefits of that initial analysis.

    Basically what I’m saying is that entering into a cycle of data management, analysis and use is very profitable, but that requires a CEO or executive that can recognise that a winning long term strategy might mean spending more now to get onto the road to a better relationship with your customers, and spending less later, when the processes are already in place, building loyalty, personalised communications and enabling better services.


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