Thinking about merging your databases? Some advice from those who've done it

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Francis Heid

VP-publishing operations,

Advanstar Communications

"Think about your demographic categories. What parts of the list do you need more detailed information on? Is there a way on the source list that you can maintain the more detailed information while fitting these smaller categories into a larger category on the master file? Also, know your data. I can't tell you how many lists we receive where the addressing and naming conventions are not consistent. The better your consistency, the more accurate your de-dupes will be."

Donna Sickles

Corporate circulation director,

Quadrant Media Corp.

"You really have to sit down with your fulfillment company and come up with a plan and be very, very clear about what your objectives are, what you're hoping to accomplish and where they are going, because it's time-consuming and it can be really expensive."

Gloria Adams

Corporate director-audience development, PennWell Corp.

"Start with your fulfillment company. Technically, they should have the most current set of names and the file that has the most activity going across it. That would be the first place I would look for information."

Nick Cavnar

VP-circulation and data development, Hanley Wood

"Be sure you have a really good business reason for doing this. When I was at Primedia Business, we had 90 magazines and a lot of trade shows, and they were in fields as different as rock products and telecommunications engineering. You didn't necessarily gain a whole lot putting those together. Within a market you might gain something, but just creating one giant database doesn't necessarily help you out. Some would disagree, but this is my feeling. You really have to look at the characteristics of the different groups: Is there something that we could put together that would really have a business purpose?"

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