_____ _____ Introduction

Global Sourcebook for International Data Management

                                         by Graham Rhind




Global Sourcebook | Index | Properties

Creating a database, especially an address database, is one of those tasks that everybody thinks is so easy that anybody can do it. After all, one only has to create a few fields using any off-the-shelf database package, and then start to type the names. Right?

Wrong. Half-hearted and badly-planned attempts to build international address databases fail. You need to give it more than passing attention to build a database which is to be of optimal use to you, and preventing errors is cheaper in the long run than correcting them after the damage has been done. The database is the core of all your database marketing, CRM etc. work. If it is bad, so will be your database marketing. It is the single most important factor influencing the effectiveness of any database marketing activity.

The Global Source Book for Name and Address Data Managementis not intended to guide you through the best way to build your address database, avoiding expensive pitfalls as you go - I have done this already in my books Building and Maintaining a European Direct Marketing Database and Practical International Data Management External. This guide is intended to help you to populate your database in the most effective and accurate way; to ensure that you can put your data to its best use and to maintain your advantage, without causing any unnecessary irritation to those people within your database.

Database marketing has immense advantages over other forms of mass-communication because of its directness - your message goes straight to the person for which it was intended. This very directness introduces an increased ability to cause offence or irritation to that person, with its associated detrimental effects on your company. This irritation may be caused by the message itself - your offer or the artwork - but often the greatest irritation is caused by what your contact sees before he or she opens the envelope - the envelope itself and, more specifically, his/her name and address. They will check that you have got your facts right. If you have not, if you have used an incorrect address format, unsightly casing, an inappropriate form of address or the wrong language, you may not only irritate but greatly increase the chance that that person will dispose of your expensive mailing unopened - your artwork wasted.

When you buy a product you will often be highly influenced by the image which you have of the company selling it. You might frequent one shop instead of another because the staff are friendly and helpful, or because the decor gives an image of professionalism, or for some other, intangible, reason. Recipients of your mailings will equally be affected by the image of your company as projected by the mailing, and the first influence of that image is the care which has been taken to ensure that their personal details are correct. Remember that when you send something to somebody, they get the whole package - good and bad. You also know that you have to work hard to remove the bad, because, in the eyes of the recipient one bad will outweigh ten goods in your mailing. A well-printed address, correct in every detail, may not solicit a positive response from potential buyers, but it will not distract them from their progress towards opening the envelope, reading the contents and perhaps buying your product. You can be sure that some degree of negative feeling will occur when something is wrong with the address, and your chances of making the sale or just giving a good impression will be slightly (or greatly) diminished.

But what is a correct address? What do I need to watch out for? How do I prevent causing irritation to my customers in this country? These are some of the questions that this guide seeks to answer for you for 242 of the World’s countries and territories. It is intended as a reference work for anybody who maintains or uses a cross-border address database. Foreign addresses need to be treated differently. Not in terms of the data itself - if you build your database properly it will be flexible enough to be used for a mailing in Ulan Bator - but in terms of the way in which the data is output. Addressing German businessmen as Mister instead of Herr, structuring their addresses incorrectly and giving their towns English names will not be appreciated by the recipients, whose confidence in you and your offer will be impaired by your inability to treat them and their personal details correctly. If you are in the direct marketing business, your database is the core of everything that you do and if you are in the direct mailing business, a person’s address is central to your success.

imageBreton nationalists replace French-language road signs with Breton-language signs in Brittany, France.

The way that you use this guide depends on the purpose for which you hold your database. If you hold, for example, a subscription database, you will be interested in getting your publication as quickly and efficiently as possible to the subscriber - you shall want to follow the norms of the post office concerned, perhaps in order also to profit from postal discounts. You can use this guide to find how the post office of the country concerned prefers that addresses are formatted. If, on the other hand, you are aiming to sell via direct mailing, you will be interested in taking into account cultural aspects of an address, to ensure that it looks good and correct in the eye of the recipient, and does nothing to reduce the efficacy of your message or the quality of your offer. In this case the sections of this guide referring to such aspects as language, forms of address, address formats and settlement names will be of more relevance to you.

In any case, if you mail to more than one country, you will constantly be confronted by a series of questions:

   ·In which format should the address be written?
   ·In which format should the postal code be written?
   ·How do I write the word “Post office box” in the local language?
   ·What language should I use?
   ·Which diacritical characters shall I need to be able to store and print?
   ·How can I recognize different parts of the address?
   ·Should I use upper or lower case?
   ·Where does the house number belong?
   ·What form of address do I use?
   ·In which order do I write the person’s name?

and so on. This book is intended as a reference work to allow you to get the answers to these questions (and more) for as many of the World’s countries as possible. Years of research have brought together this information into this single source specifically to answer the needs of the database management, database marketing and direct mailing sectors.

I hope that you find this reference work useful, and look forward to hearing from you should you find anything missing.

Every effort is made to keep this resource updated. If you find any errors, or have any questions or requests, please don't hesitate to contact the author.

All information copyright Graham Rhind 2023. Any information used should be acknowledged and referenced.