Let’s face it – there’s no such thing as a “mass audience”. In today’s world of hyper-customisation and ultra-specialism, every audience is niche. (Even if there’s 10m people in it.) Why? Because customers expect to be treated as individuals. Even when they’re business buyers in charge of £1m+ budgets*.

*(Actually, make that especially if they’re business buyers.)

So how can you make every customer feel like your only customer? The answer is closer than you think… it’s in your data.

1. Weigh up your data

Let’s face it. Today’s “Big Data” is REALLY big, so database profiling starts with sizing it all up, to see how big the ocean is you’re swimming in.

There’s no point in finding 1 million names if you can only market to 1,000.

Database profiling can find the big fish… but first, see how big the pond is.

2. Cut it down to size

Today’s business problem isn’t too little data. It’s too much. If you’re planning a campaign… do you look for every purchasing job title imaginable? Or focus specifically on “Senior Widget Buyer“? The answer is probably in the middle.

So it’s a good idea to think in terms of outcomes. How many names on a list would look like success to you? A hundred? A thousand? And who does your business appeal to? Locals only? Across the EU? Companies of over 250 people?

Only 0.01% of companies in the UK employ 250 or more people.

Once you know where you’re going, you can cut away the parts of the dataset you don’t need. Now you’ve got a proper dataset. Database profiling starts here.

3. Break it into parts

So you’ve got a list of companies. Each of them a prospect. Would you reach them all in a single campaign?

You could mail names beginning A-C in March, D-E in April and so on… But that would be silly. Database profiling breaks down your data to extract the mailing list that’s most useful today. So: what criteria?

Existing customers are a great place to start.

When did your best customers start using you? A data consultancy can help you to find this out. Was it when they were startups, hungry for the time your product saved as they rushed towards market? Was it when they exceeded a certain size and suddenly needed to automate processes they’d previously done by hand?

Metrics like employee base, date of incorporation or sector classification can help companies just like your best customers today. And that’s one hot, hot prospect list.

This video explores how to segment your customers in more detail: Customer Analytics: How to survive in a customer driven world

4. Plan, plan and plan again

Once you know the basic characteristics of your ideal prospect, you can use it to plan your marketing campaign. Is the mailing list 10,000 names and your budget £1m? Well, for £100 you can send each prospect a very nice mailer.

Or are there just 100 hot prospects… but each spends £500k on services like yours? Maybe your campaign needs to nurture awareness so you don’t “burn” those names before they’re ready for a sales approach. What kind of list will you get from your data? We don’t know. And until you’ve done some database profiling, neither do you.

Want to get started?

Find out how to set realistic campaign objectives by reading: Which metrics to measure

This article first appeared on the Marketscan Blog.