Bad Data

A case for why more is not always more.

As a company that does a large volume of print & mail services, we are on a ton of mailing lists.  I recently came across a postcard that had the name of an employee that has not been with Print Tech for over 5 years.  Now I see this all the time, but this stuck out because it came from a prospect I had spoken to very recently regarding print & mail services.  A month later, I receive this card from said prospect with an invalid name.  Our address was correct however (this had recently changed), proving that the print/mail supplier was observing required practices with NCOA.

Since it was so recent I had spoken to the prospect, I had to give a call, right?  After contacting this person, I hung up the phone a bit stunned.  Here is the essence of the conversation:

Me: “I just wanted to let you know that I received this postcard in error as it came for someone who hasn’t been here for 5 years.  Now we recently spoke about some of our services and I followed up with some samples of my work, but now I’m calling for a different purpose.  Did you know that bad data could be costing you tons of money?  We had a non-profit client where we scrubbed close to 50% of their list to save them money.  Perhaps us scrubbing your list would be a good introduction to my company so you can evaluate if our services would be a good fit.”

Prospect: “Well our printer does it for free.  We don’t have them check the name, only the address.”

(Mind you, I have never had any conversation about price at this point.)

Me: “So you don’t care if your message gets to the right person, as long as it hits the right address?”

Prospect: “More or less.”

It was a little surprising to me that this was the stance the prospect took.  Now this is the part where I slap myself on the wrist.  It didn’t dawn on me until after the call, that this prospect doesn’t know what I know.  In my wild youth I worked for a company called Ikon and one of my jobs was to assist their clients with their mail room operations.

Did you know that every company from Enterprise Rent a Car to M&M Mars had the same mail policy?  If the person no longer works here, throw it out.  This applied to over 20 clients where we offered mail room support.  Therefore each bad name sent to those companies was a waste of print & postage.  Of course there was no way for the prospect to know this.  Nor might they have known that bad data can hurt your reputation for both businesses and residences.

Shame on me, as the expert, to not impart this wisdom.  So here I am sharing this with all of you.  I have seen clients with address lists so bad that it would have cost over $5000 in wasted print & postage if we had not scrubbed them.  Please don’t fall victim to this and make sure your data is clean.

Now excuse me.  I have a call I need to make to a prospect!