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Mistakes show importance of data management

Rachel Wheeler Archive
A recent political scandal in Florida has illustrated the need to double check everything when sending out direct mailings. U.S. Representative Connie Mack IV  is running for the U.S. Senate. He recently sent out a statewide campaign mailing that appears to have been paid for with taxpayer money, a violation of campaign financing laws.

Representatives can send informational mailings to residents of their districts and be reimbursed by the Treasury. The new mailing, however, was distributed to 57,000 people outside of Mack's district, and appears to have been associated with Mack's bid for Florida's Senate seat.  The funding mistake was quickly noticed and corrected. The direct mailing company returned the $18,000 used on the campaign, but the incident shows that proper data management is essential even for professional advertising companies.

The mistake occurred due to the use of the wrong mailing list. Rather than confining the campaign flyer to the congressional district, a list of Republican supporters across the state was used. Proper data management could have avoided the embarrassing mistake, which has become a hot issue in Florida's primary.

When conducting any form of marketing campaign, reaching the right audience is essential. According to the Tampa Tribune, the voters Mack reached with his mailing were targeted for their enthusiasm for voting in party  primaries and state elections, an ideal group to reach when seeking support. Businesses often rely on the same form of listings to find their core audience. Loyal customers and others that share characteristics can help lift sales if approached with special discounts or promotions.

Finding and maintaining mailing lists of these key consumers can help companies develop successful marketing campaigns. In the Florida mailing scandal, one list of target audiences was mistakenly used in place of another. For businesses with dozens or even hundreds of customer groupings, using an incorrect list could cost millions. Instead of a successful sales campaign, the company wastes money by sending uneffective messages to the wrong audience. 

Testing and verifying consumer information is an essential part of any data management program. The issues in Florida could have been avoided through address verification. Addresses outside of Mack's  district should have indicated that the mailing was targeted to an audience receptive to the congressman's bid for Senate. Don't fall for the same embarrassing mistake by not verifying the information on which a marketing campaign is built.