Prospecting For Data Gold

Sam Kublawi
Prospecting For Data Gold

Key Takeaways:

  • Learning about existing customers through data profiles is the first step towards better targeting future customers.
  • Using data to learn about a customer file is a great validation tool when working with data vendors for straight or modeled list selects.
  • Profiles can help unlock the imagination of agency creative teams for designing more effective direct mail content.

From my recollection, my career journey has always centered around working with marketing data. It all started in the phone room of a marketing research agency where I had my first “aha” moment during an interview with a survey respondent. I used my personal experience of having a newborn son a couple of months earlier to gain her sympathy; this enabled her to complete the last few questions of the survey, despite her crying infant. My supervisor did not approve of my deviation from the script, but I felt it was more personal and I made sure of an unbiased outcome.

Eventually, my college degree landed me a spot in the data center, where I gained an appreciation for data’s ability to tell a story. Over the next couple of decades working as a data analytics and modeling services provider, I took pride in creating data profiles that helped my clients find the optimal mix of data elements to define a potentially good performing target audience.

By sharing detailed segmented reports, I could help clients understand the most relevant data about their customers. Having so much data at my fingertips, I felt like a prospector searching for that nugget of gold – big or small. If the analytic project entailed further refinement, then it typically led to a modeling solution. But even when a model was involved, a project always began with a data profile.

The Essential First Step When Prospecting For Data Gold

As a data specialist, I prioritize learning about our clients’ customers when they first come onboard as new agency clients at Gunderson Direct. It’s essential to fully understand their existing customers in order to successfully acquire new ones. The process begins with a simple data profile that highlights basic demographics and behaviors. This step is important because it gives me an understanding that helps my dialogue with our data vendors. It confirms what they tell me about any possible straight selects or modeling preselects. If a model is being developed for a new prospecting campaign, then I will have a validation of what the modeler tells me is a positive or negative predictor in the model.

Additionally, data profiles can have a secondary benefit in helping other areas of our agency, such as our creative team. Uncovering new data about the customer base will give them an advantage in their efforts to develop relevant messages and calls to action.

By identifying potential segments on our clients’ data file, the creative team can develop different tests with a variety of messages to improve their award-winning direct mail pieces. This can happen as long as I can continue delivering those nuggets of gold.


Gunderson Direct has long-lasting relationships with some of the country’s largest corporations, helping them to lower their customer acquisition costs and increase profits using address-based integrated direct marketing programs.

Drop us a line for more information on how our direct marketing expertise can help your business.

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Sam Kublawi

Sam is a data problem solver. His deep expertise in customer acquisition and retention comes from over 25 years of experience working at data powerhouses such as Epsilon and RL Polk and for major clients across numerous categories including financial services, retail and entertainment. Sam doesn’t just find and analyze databases for clients, he builds them, too. He’s created targeted universes through analytic solutions, ranging from simple data profiles to robust modeling techniques —always with a focus on data quality. His skills also extend to designing and implement primary marketing research solutions. Outside of work, Sam enjoys watching Liverpool, his favorite football team (don’t tell him it’s really soccer). He loves spending time outdoors enjoying nature, relaxing at home with his family and two dogs, and learning about other cultures through travel.

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