Prospecting Audiences: Then & Now

My first thought when I look back on prospecting 20 years ago? “Wow, I’ve been doing this for over 20 years.” Your first thought (well, it should be anyway!): “What! She began her career at 13 years old?!” We digress.

In all seriousness, so much has changed in the last two decades. Looking back to 1998, the way in which we provided audiences to our clients was vastly different than how we do this today. In fact, one specific story pops into my mind…

I was working on a campaign for my catalog client, Reliable Home Office, and was shipping mag tapes via my FedEx account to get the names to their service bureau, Experian, on time. This was back when we called it the “drop-dead” date.

On a daily call with my service bureau representative, I was told that one file had not yet arrived. So, I called the list manager to track the package and we learned that my mag tape had actually fallen off of a FedEx truck…and was run over.  I began to panic. My campaign schedule was in jeopardy and a replacement file had to be created and re-shipped within 48 hours.

Today, we can have data processors create audiences and post to service bureaus within the hour. We can re-send the email of an audience within one minute and we can review order logs via client portals. What has not changed in Acquisition Services is my team’s role in developing custom audiences for our clients. I have always loved the art and science of this business. We get to think about our client’s brand and their tactics: Who is their customer? How can we test to learn if who they think is their customer, actually is?

We have the unique opportunity to look at their data and understand what their customer is buying, what is their lifestyle, how much are they spending, what titles are they synergized with, when do they shop, and so much more. We then go out and find audiences that match the profiles that our team and the client develop together, provide new ideas for their direct mail program, social programs, digital programs, etc. We love to be creative with the audiences that we uncover and identify to expand our client’s reachable audience. Personally, I am so excited every time a client shares their results from a campaign, so I can work with my team to dig in to understand the successes of the audiences and what we learned from the experience for next time (that is something that hasn’t changed in 20 years!). It is fun to “rinse and repeat” the process each time; taking something new away from each individual campaign.

Today, I use the internet more often than I did in 1998, but my team and I still sway toward talking to and meeting with our clients in-person to further cultivate our partnership. In fact, many of them have probably heard this story, but thought I’d share here as well!