Don’t Use ‘Drive-in’ Data to Recruit Members

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In a story for our July issue on publicly available data and how it can help with member recruitment, we profiled Kelly McDonald. She is president of McDonald Marketing and the author of two books on consumer trends and multicultural marketing. McDonald works with clients to find areas that are ripe for future growth — in both people and ideas — by using resources that include free, publicly available data.

McDonald recognizes the power of social media, but she also cautions against relying on it to choose themes for an event or to source speakers — it can be like using your friends as a focus group. McDonald learned that lesson while working in automotive marketing, when car dealers would monitor which radio stations their customers were tuned in to when they brought their vehicles in for repair — and then advertise on those stations.

The problem was that the dealers were “finding” markets where they had influence, rather than seeking out new customer bases. The same logic applies to meetings and events: Instead of catering only to existing community members, think about how to tap new audiences. “If you want to grow your business, then that is usually about reaching new people,” McDonald said. “Where are those people? Who are those people? What do they listen to, what do they talk about, what do they care about?”

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