Target precisely. But with care.

Regular readers of The Scoop will know that precise targeting is a theme of mine.

You need to do whatever you can to get to know your audience and to customise offers that connect with the people you want to win over.

Smart marketers want to know as much as possible about prospects in order to tailor their brand image. The more you know about the people you are trying to reach, the greater your chance of executing exactly the right message to the right audience at the right time.

However, you need to do all this with care.

Let's say I acquire information that tells me that certain households have two dogs. I could go to these households saying "because you have two dogs, xyx dog food will suit you". However, such an approach is likely to generate a negative reaction. "How do they know we have two dogs? Where did they get my name?"

Use the information by all means, but don't push it into people's faces.

Today, marketers and their data collection practices are under the spotlight like never before. For companies with brands to protect, the scrutiny can be uncomfortable.

There is a real balancing act going on. On the one hand, you don't want to be the next negative headline in the popular press. But equally, you don't want to be so reluctant to embrace new marketing intelligence that your competitors gain an advantage.

As you are trying to get the balance right, one of the questions to look at is, would they be shocked? If there was full disclosure of all the facts, would your prospects be upset?

Calculate how shocked your average consumer would be to learn what information is being collected about his/her behavior and how you plan to use it in a campaign.

To help yourself here, use only a reputable data provider. And be sure that you understand what the provider does to create a profile or segment to which you advertise.

Pay special attention to highly sensitive areas of information, including medical, financial and details about children.

Follow this issue in the news, and watch for practices that are widely criticised. These are the ones that will raise your shock rating if you are using them.

If your promotion is online, providing an easy opt out is also an obvious way to give people an added level of confidence.