How We Build Our Database

Our company was started by a guy who used to run The New York Times Magazine and a couple former TV journalists. Needless to say it’s a group that likes to ask questions. That’s really how TCI Marketing Services came together. We asked if there was a better way to do lead generation and B2B marketing. Of course we knew the answer was, “yes”, but we also needed to figure out, “how?” And the first step was figuring out: “How do you build a better database?”

First, in order to figure out what “better” might mean, we needed to assess what “is”. For years B2B marketers had one option to expand their in-house databases and get new leads – publishers. Even after print gave way to online publications, publisher programs operated in pretty much the same way. They’ve continued building their databases in the same, traditional way too.

 What’s more terrific is all the purchase history data we have that helps us target programs for our clients. 

See, “publishing” is just the name of a certain process of building a database (what was originally called a subscription list). Part and parcel to publishing is hiring a bunch of smart people to create good content — and then hiring a bunch of other smart folks to promote the content. And then hiring a bunch more to figure out who’s reading the content, and how to communicate with them on behalf of advertisers. Phew, that’s a lot of hiring and some pretty big tasks. It turns out all that hiring and work is really expensive. Advertisers, or clients, end up paying for all of it, plus a healthy margin – which ends up being really expensive for clients.

On top of the expense, it turns out it’s really hard to get just the right people to read your content and subscribe, or opt-in, to your database. This is the part that we seized. Every marketer we meet with, every one of us, heck, even my mom, is opted-in to one or all of the publishing databases. When a publisher says 10-million people are in their database, my mom is one of them… And she’s not buying anything from Oracle anytime soon. Seriously though, this just shows how inaccurate the publishing method is for building a database of B2B buyers. This observation provided TCI Marketing Services with its first marching orders…Finding a way to build a list of 100% vetted B2B buyers.

Okay, so we cheated on the first task. Our parent company and main investor is Technical Communities, Inc. It’s a venture backed holding company that owns a network of B2B reseller and distributor businesses. They sell A LOT of business products, and the customers of all those sales opt-in to the TCI Marketing Services database. Presto! We’ve got a database of 100% B2B buyers who have recently proven budget authority. Pretty neat, huh?

What’s more terrific is all the purchase history data we have that helps us target programs for our clients. Instead of spray-and-pray emails that go to our entire database, we only promote client content to relevant buyers – and not based on an article they read, but based on the product they actually purchased.

So there you go — a better database, with lower costs. It comes in handy when you’re offering your clients better B2B marketing.