Analyze This! In medicine, the autopsy tells the tale. And in direct marketing, back-end analysis is the equivalent of "getting the post." If your marketing postmortem is going to be worth doing, it has to be done right. Bad analysis is worse than useless, since it can point you in the wrong direction.
The Five W's The questions you pose in your analysis should be designed to obtain actionable information, useful in tailoring future list selections. A good framework for analysis is a variation on the journalist's "five w's" - who, what, when, where, and why.
1. Who are your responders? How old are they? Are they male or female?
Actionable implications: If, for example, you are promoting a course entitled "Starting a Practice for Women," you might want to limit promotion to younger women in order to get a better response.
2. What do they do? What is their profession? What is their prescribing profile? What health plans are they affiliated with? Are they office- or hospital-based? What is their specialty/sub-specialty? (Family physicians may attend cardiology courses, for example.) What is their board certification status? How does attendance map against specialty board recertification educational requirements?
Actionable implications: By determining which products or therapeutic classes are associated with the disease or condition addressed in your meeting, you can target high prescribers thereof and boost response. There is a cost to getting data about physicians' prescribing profiles, but if you are able to cut your mailing or broaden your reach, you can show a positive return on investment. Health plan affiliation and type of practice can be key because they determine to a great extent your target market's resources.
3. When do they respond? Is this the first time they have attended? Do they come only in spring? Winter? Fall? Your database should answer these questions for you.
Actionable implications: You may find that vacation habits are a key to predicting response. This may imply a broader target for winter meetings in warm climes. Some attendees may come but once a year, regardless of topic. If the numbers warrant, you may want to stop wasting money on meetings outside their favorite time frame. Perhaps the number of similar meetings chronologically proximate to yours affected your attendance. You may need to reschedule.
4. Where are they? Do they live near your meeting, or far away? Where are they licensed? Where were they born? Where did they train? How does attendance map against state CME requirements?
Actionable implications: You may find that ties to a specific region boost response, implying that you should select physicians born, trained, or licensed in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin for a promotion for a Chicago meeting. Perhaps you should target physicians in specialty boards that require mucho CME for recertification.
5. Why did they respond? To learn a new technique? To see old friends? To write off Mardi Gras?
Actionable implications: The obvious reason may not always be the true one. Surveying or even casually chatting with attendees can yield anecdotal insights worth their weight in gold, as can phone or mail surveys and careful analysis of evaluation forms, which should probably include the questions: Why did you come to this meeting? Did it meet your expectations? If not, why not? You should also find out why people don't attend, which may lead you to alter your product, price, location, or meeting time.