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News & Views from Alchemis

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Call us for a chat on +44 (0)20 7836 3678 or email Amanda Francis


Labour’s direct marketing campaign targets cancer sufferers

There were reports in the press recently that a Labour leaflet campaign was targeting cancer sufferers with a message that their lives could be at risk if a Tory government was to come into power using the strap line “are the Tories a change you can afford?”

Labour claims that they used publicly available social demographic data and the data management company Experian confirmed that both Labour and the Conservatives use its Mosaic database, which divides voters into 67 groups and identifies likely cancer patients using anonymised hospital statistics, including postcodes and the diagnoses of patients.

This throws up interesting questions about what customer information a brand should use in tailoring their communications.

The holy grail of all customer marketing is surely to get to a point where brands can treat their customers as individuals but if they are seen to be taking advantage of someone’s disadvantages to promote a product or service then this risks alienating the customer and potentially turning into a PR nightmare.

As a Business Development Manager I have the advantage of being able to react to information I receive during a conversation and amend my communications accordingly.

When I am making new business calls to marketing decision makers part of my job is to identify ‘pain points’ and highlight requirements that are not currently adequately provided by their internal resources or current suppliers. This gives me a great reason for them to meet my client. However I’m always very aware that identifying pain points is one thing, but overstating them is likely to turn the prospect off.

Quite often the questions I ask are designed to raise these areas in the prospect’s mind but sometimes ‘in their mind’ is enough and these ‘problems’ remain unspoken. If, in their mind they can see a problem that is currently unsolved and match that with a potential solution that my client has expertise in then I’m more than half way there.

In my experience there is such a thing as overselling your benefits and if that is on the back of excessively highlighting a prospective client’s (or for that matter voter’s) problems then you’re bound to risk appearing mercenary or as Phyllis Delik, 80, who received one of Labours leaflets described it “callous”.

What do you think the limit should be on marketers using sensitive data to target their customers, if any?

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