O.K. Here is a dirty little secret that you may be guilty of. Over the past few years your company has done transactions with thousands of customers. You not only have the customer’s street address, but you now have his or her e-mail address and you’ve never organized your files to reach them via e-mail. Shame on you.

We are assisting several clients in organizing their files so that their database can be a gold mine for better understanding their business and for easy, low cost e-mail marketing.

It is a laborious effort. Organizing spreadsheets into a consistent file that can be sorted is a hassle, but a worthy cause. Try creating a field within your file that enables you to segment your database based on the products they buy or the type of business the customer operates. Train the person you assign to manage your database to enter the new field on a daily basis so that you don’t have to go back and go through a long list of names again.

For example, we have a database of approximately 7,000 customers who have redeemed rebate coupons through our clearinghouse. By segmenting that list into categories, such as Pizza/Italian, K-12 Schools, Hospitals, we can send E-Blast offers to them that are more relevant and can cross-sell other products to them.

The old saying that the easiest sell is to customers who have bought your products in the past is true. So, take your database and do something with it for pete’s sake.