Ten years ago, Tom Peters wrote “The watchwords used to be location, location, location. Today it is database, database, database.”
Not surprisingly, Peters has it right, but for many associations, a database is just a contact list. They’re missing out on what matters—strategic use of information.
Consider this—many associations struggle with member retention. One of the keys to retention is member engagement—keeping your members active within the association. A good member database can help with that—for example, run a query to see what members aren’t attending educational programs, haven’t logged in to the members only web site, and aren’t on committees. Those are individuals that a membership director or committee should reach out to.
Beyond that, databases provide an opportunity for narrowcasting messages to members. It’s not uncommon for web sites to provide you information based on your search patterns, buying patterns, or more. You don’t need Google’s resources to do something similar for an association. For example, in marketing a meeting, look at who has bought publications on the same topic, or who has attended programs on the same subject.
I guess Peters was only half right—it’s not just about the database, it’s about the people using it as well.