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Is Your Customer Database Lying To You?

Feb 27, 2008
Companies exhibit at trade shows to attract an attentive audience who, hopefully, will show interest in their product or service. The show organizer uses company marketing dollars to bring potential customers to these shows. As an exhibitor you must go about doing this same thing - inviting your customers and prospects to see you and talk to you.

Often easier said than done, right? It can definitely be a challenge. This simple marketing tactic requires that you first know who you will invite - your best target audience. So what does your database of names or your CRM (customer relationship management) software really contain? I'd venture to say too much wrong information! Bad names, bad numbers, bad titles, and on and on. I call this 'dirty' data.

In today's business environment we swim in a sea of dirty data. So let's first take a look at the Internet, and later at your own business lists, to assess just how dirty your data actually is.

The Internet is full of old and outdated information. Recent statistics from Technorati indicate that the number of active blogs on the net is around 15.5 million. They define 'active' as blogs updated within the last 90 days. Technorati says in their advertising that they track 70 million blogs. Using their math model, that results in 78%, or nearly 55 million, blogs have become inactive, abandoned or otherwise outdated. The conclusion is that the Internet is a storehouse of factually suspect information.

So, what is going on in your office? How dirty is your information? The first place to look is at your contact lists. Whether you store your contacts in Outlook, ACT, Goldmine, or whatever, when was the last time the contact information was updated? My guess is that it was longer ago than you would like to believe. You have tons of inaccurate information in those systems.

Trade Shows and dirty databases -there's connection, but with bad information it's a broken fence.
Personal invitations by an exhibitor are one of the significant reasons any attendee will make the effort to patronize a given show.

It has been my recommendation for years that there are several invitations that should go out.

- One is to the top, special customers in the city of the show - top tier executives and management. These could be, perhaps preferably, hand delivered by the salesperson.

- The next tier is an invitation to the other customers in your database. I suspect these names are in pretty good order.

- Now here is where the water gets murky - the prospect list. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of names in your system. When was the last time it was cleaned or updated?

Here is a great way to determine how clean your data is. Select 500 names from the database. Have company staff call at least one hundred or more of those names. Take every tenth name and call to see if they are still there, if they still hold the same position, correct email and other pertinent information, and you have a good checklist of points of accuracy. You will likely be surprised to see that more than 50% of your names are bad. If it is much less, then pat your self on the back - you are doing a great job. However, if it is 50% or more, then a database scrubbing needs to take place.

Inviting your prospects can pay off handsomely. They can come and see you, listen to what you have to offer, and take the appropriate action and become a valued customer. Having all the correct information about every prospect you contact can increase the odds heavily in your favor. The top of the sales funnel is large and with the proper steps along the way to insure a large pool of correctly identified contacts, the larger the pool of secured clients there will be at the bottom of the funnel. It's just as simple as that.
About the Author
For 25 years Joyce McKee has helped companies succeed in the trade show and event world.
Keep up with the latest trends her new site at http://www.letstalktradeshows.com
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