Here we are at Database Clean-up Part 2. Can you believe it’s already the second week of 2019? As you think about your calendar of annual solicitations for 2019, what pieces of information did you find yourself correcting or double-checking over the last year?
My guess is that if you’re sending letters — and let’s be real, who isn’t mail merging letters? — you have noticed at least few inconsistencies in your addressees (Mr. and Mrs. John Smith) and salutations (Mr. and Mrs. Smith). So, to help break down how to work through this, below are a few questions to ask yourself (and your colleagues):
- How many different types (or formulas) of addressees and salutations do we need; and is our database currently set up this way? Perhaps you want a formal “Mr. and Mrs. First Name Last Name” addressee and also an informal “First Name” salutation. Perform an audit to see if you are following your own rules within the database or if you need to set new templates.
- What are the different titles and suffixes available in your database — and are there any misspellings or duplicates? Everyone has Mr., Mrs., and Dr., among many others; but check to see if maybe there is “Mss” instead of “Miss” or if all of your titles (that require punctuation) have punctuation. You may be surprised to find “Mr.” and “Mr” being used. Punctuation is also big with suffixes. If your organization has a style guide, make sure your database mirrors that. For example, some organizations use “Ph.D.” while other use “PhD” and whatever you choose, just be consistent. Once you change those oddballs, make sure to remove the titles you will no longer be using.
- How can we ensure that these changes and new formats/templates are followed going forward? Document your processes and procedures. Whether it’s a master document somewhere in your department’s shared files or a giant poster in the office (kidding, but not really), make sure others know how and why these rules have been set.
Good luck and happy mail merging with clean data! See you next week for more clean-up projects!