Amongst the pile of direct mail on my doormat the other morning was a letter from the AA containing a speculative quote for my car insurance and promising me all sorts of goodies if I took my custom back to them.

Nothing unusual in that you might think, apart from the fact that the car they were quoting me for I'd sold seven years earlier. I do vaguely remember buying AA insurance for that car all those years ago and they clearly still have the same details for me on their database, not having bothered to update them.

Now think about it. How much must it have cost the AA to get that mailer in front of me? A few thousand to the agency maybe for concept, copy, design and artwork; tens of thousands to print them; 30p per mailer 2nd class postage, plus fulfilment and all the man hours tracking and monitoring... all to give me a completely useless insurance quote, which by the way was over £200 third party, fire and theft on what would have been a 19 year old 1.6L Golf - extortionate by anyone's standards. The car itself (if it's still going) would only be worth around that much.

Not only must the AA be wasting thousands of pounds on mailers that go straight in the bin, even worse they are damaging their brand. I was left thinking they don't care about me as a customer, so why on earth would I ever give them my hard earned money?

Having a powerful database isn't just about quantity, it's quality too. If you don't keep your database updated and segmented, you could be wasting thousands on your direct marketing and who can afford to do that in the current climate?