Column: Personal marketing is the future

Mass marketing is history. Target marketing is current events. Personal marketing is your future. Or that's how the saying goes.

Mass marketing is history. Target marketing is current events. Personal marketing is your future. Or that's how the saying goes. And one of the most exciting media for personal marketing is the World Wide Web. With the caveat that the current pool of Kiwis to market to is relatively small, the Internet provides a tremendous opportunity to build, maintain and leverage a personal direct marketing database.

For starters, most of the surveys tell the same tale: Net users are upper socio-economic status, they are "early-adopters" and they fall generally into the same demographic age/sex category. In short, the upscale marketer's dream. So how to reach them? In mass marketing, you would take out a radio or newspaper ad and hope for the best. With target marketing, you would do a letterbox drop to the meshblocks with the right statistical profile. With personal marketing, you need to identify and contact those people without running afoul of the Privacy Act.

The Net and email are made to order. First you need to get a Web site that will draw the punters in. That means entertainment, information, contests, prizes and most importantly, a registration form where people enter their details and interests. Make sure that you clearly state that the data being solicited will be used for marketing purposes. Most people don't mind being on a well-planned mailing list as long as you tell them.

The big challenge, of course, is making sure that surfers know about and can find your site, so be sure to register it with Access NZ, NZ Explorer and other New Zealand indexes and directories. Also publicise the site via the print media.

When you start to get responses, categorise them and enter the data into a database. And voila, you have the beginnings of an Interent-enabled personal marketing database. That's half the story. The other half is using the database for marketing. Let's say you are a travel agency. Let's say that you also set up your registration form so that you asked travel preferences, holiday plans and related material. If a person filled in ski holidays, you could then send a personalised email notice when you ran a special for a weekend to Mt Hutt.

And once you had a relationship with the client, you could offer further incentives. The actual mechanics of composing personal messages and emailing them as per a field in the database can be easily automated. And email is dirt cheap. If you compose the message in an appropriate manner, the client will be predisposed to the product you are selling.

Personal marketing is closely akin to customer loyalty programmes, with the difference that personal marketing deals with prospects while customer loyalty deals with clients.

In short, the Net offers a cost-effective method of pulling in prospects, qualifying them for your particular goods and services and contacting them on a one-to-one basis for making a sale.

(Parent is Computerworld's Internet editor and a consultant at Creative Data. Contact him at pjp@iprolink.co.nz or at the Crative Data Web site at http://www.cd.co.nz.)

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