In the past two weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down with a couple of fellow direct marketers. One is a prospective client, considering the use of variable data printing for the first time. The other is a long-time friend who needs help getting a better ROI on his direct mail and email campaigns. Both have worked in online, database or direct marketing for many years, and both have large enough budgets to drive real revenue.
Ironically, both have the same, simple problem: somewhere along the way, the “doing more with less” mantra meant the elimination of documentation. So now one has a great strategic plan (and it is documented), but failed to log all of the results over time. The other had a great testing plan but didn’t document it, and six months later can’t remember the details regarding the target audiences.
Some of you may think this could never happen to you. I challenge you to think back to a time when your plan (and I know it was the most stellar, innovative, revenue-producing plan ever written) was modified beyond recognition by the time it got through your boss, your boss’s boss, the client, legal, compliance and the ten other stakeholders. Did you change the plan to reflect all the final decisions?
As direct and database marketing become more intricate and complex, it is impossible to remember all the detailed changes that take place over the course of the strategic planning process. If you don’t know what you did or how it worked, where does this leave you? Back in the beginning. Database and direct marketing are an iterative, building process. So no matter how frazzled, busy and stretched your marketing department becomes, don’t shortcut the documentation process and make a ginormous mistake. You’ll thank yourself for knowing exactly what you did, why you did it, and the resulting outcomes.
Ginormous as defined by Merriam Webster’s online dictionary:
Etymology: gigantic + enormous
Date: circa 1948
extremely large : humongous