NCDM 2010: Database marketers must be advocates

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Miami—The challenges of dealing with a "tsunami" of data and the need for internal advocacy for database marketing are key challenges facing direct and digital marketers, according to a marketing industry "insider panel" last week at NCDM 2010, the annual conference and exhibition of the National Center for Database Marketing.

"The 'DM' in 'NCDM' has changed," said panel moderator Dave Frankland, senior analyst with Forrester Research, noting that database marketing is shifting to real-time customer intelligence. "Marketers today must start from a cultural point of view, and think about what they have to do differently."

Citing physicist Isaac Newton's quote that he "stood on the shoulders of giants," Frankland, said database marketers "must be the giants in their organizations, advocating for the role of database marketing."

Panelist Tony Branda, CEO of financial services marketing consultancy BlackBelt Direct said, "I like to build an influence map; that is, if a particular test is successful, how do I sell it to leadership? It's also important to have database people sitting on the leadership team. So, ask to be involved."

The need for tying data analysis to business performance also was stressed.

This is particularly true considering the flood of data that marketers must cope with said panelist Jason Madrak, head of direct-to-consumer marketing at insurance provider Aetna Inc. "It's not about boiling the ocean and building gigantic database properties that house everything. It's about being quick, nimble and focused on particular pieces of information that will solve things."

Madrak urged the implementation of robust dashboards that illustrate how database marketing and analytics are helping drive business.

"We as direct marketers have a unique opportunity to translate our work into dollars and cents," he said. "At the end of the day, that's the language of business. If you don't do that, your programs will fail."

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