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Playing Favorites

For best results, market to your best customers.

Guerrillas know the enormous difference between their prospects and their prime prospects. They are aware of the gigantic chasm separating their customers from their best customers. This perspective enables them to narrow their aim to the best prospects marketing money can buy and the finest customers ever to grace their customer lists.

While others see their goal in business as increasing sales, guerrillas see theirs as building long-term relationships. They are aware that it doesn't take much more work to sell a one-year subscription to a magazine than to sell a single issue.

Once they have a customer, guerrillas do all they can to nurture the relationship, and they don't treat all customers and prospects the same way. Consider the menswear chain with a database of 47,000 names. Mailings are never sent to more than 3,000 customers at a time. Who receives the mail? Says the owner, "Only the people appropriate to mail to." When the owner received a shipment of trousers of a specific style, he mailed only to those customers he was certain they'd appeal to-and enjoyed a 30 percent response rate.

The cost of the company's mailing was a tiny fraction of the size of the profits it generated. There's not a chance of reveling in a healthy response like that unless you target your mailing with absolute precision. It's something you're going to have to do in a world where postal rates and paper prices are both slated to increase. Unless you're hitting the bull's-eye, you're wasting your marketing dollars.

A racetrack with a database of 100,000 names selected the 50,000 most desirable and mailed them an invitation to the track on a specified Sunday with 49,999 enclosed coupons guaranteed to be worth at least $2 upon redemption-and one guaranteed to be worth $10,000. The 17,000 fans who showed up that day contributed to one of the most profitable days-in terms of admission-in the track's history. Was it the promotion or the selective targeting? It was both.


Jay Conrad Levinson is author of the internationally acclaimed Guerrilla Marketing series of books and co-founder of Guerrilla Marketing International. For information on the Guerrilla Marketing Newsletter and other products and services, write to P.O. Box 1336, Mill Valley, CA 94942; call (800) 748-6444; or visit the Web site at http://www.gmarketing.com

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Jay Conrad Levinson is the father of Guerrilla Marketing, the bestselling marketing series in history, selling more than 14 million copies worldwide. He is chairman of Guerrilla Marketing International. His latest books include Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days, 2nd. Edition with Al Lautenslager, Guerrilla Marketing on the Internet with Mitch Meyerson and Mary Eule Scarborough, and Startup Guide to Guerrilla Marketing with Jeannie Levinson.

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This article was originally published in the July 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Playing Favorites.

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