What Is A World-Class Marketing Database?
A world-class marketing database is not just software; rather, it is a dynamic, living organism comprised of marketing database strategist(s), architect(s), and developers who are constantly in-touch with the direction of your corporation's marketing efforts, sales initiatives and goals.
Here's the truth: There is no turnkey, world-class database that will handle any and all of your marketing needs and will maximize the ROI of all "your" marketing efforts. That said, the name of the game IS maximization of profit, not just increased response. In order to achieve that, a customized marketing database that can grow, change and adapt to your business' needs is crucial.
Your company's mission, vision, product line, sales channels, current and future customer base will drive your database. If you find yourself saying "But all of those aspects change over time," then you're on the right track. Those things DO change, which is why your database needs to be able to change and grow, not stagnate in times gone by while holding you back like an anchor.
The road to any world-class database starts with a simple definition of your marketing needs and goals, both short and long term. From that definition a discovery phase should take place to survey the land. Something as simple as a SWOT data analysis of your current marketing efforts will help uncover gaps in your existing strategies. A side-by-side comparison of your marketing strategies can help you identify overlap in these efforts as well. If you have the budget for hiring a consultant to help identify existing data stores in your organization outside of the marketing arena, this can also help to save both time and money.
OK, so how much? No one can tell you up-front. A common misconception is that a database professional should be able to quote a solution like a contractor. The difference is a contactor already knows what materials are needed to build a house based on what the architect has laid out in blueprints. He knows how many nails, pieces of lumber, and yards of concrete will be necessary after an architect builds the solution on paper.
Up-front pricing is impossible for database marketing because the software systems and data repositories are unknown at that point. For example, if a contractor bids a house based solely on square footage and location, he may be thinking vinyl siding while you wanted brick. He may be thinking granite, but you wanted oak. He was thinking laminate, while you wanted tile.
The fact of the matter is that your company will spend as much (and likely more) time and money on trying to fit your data into a one-size-fits-all database as you would building a database that is designed to fit your specific and unique marketing needs. The short version of the story is that while your cost in developing a database solution will go down, your cost in support, license upgrades, and report development will likely go up.
Some developers believe the solution is a turnkey, one-size-fits-all CRM database utilizing simple querying and point-and-click campaign creation. Sales people often champion the "standard" methodology that their database team uses to store and track marketing initiatives and responses.
Both are wrong.
A world-class marketing database is simply a database that meets all of your marketing needs, whatever those needs may be.