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I Just Need A Mailing List!

"I just need a mailing list!" states a recent inquirer who is ready to write a check to the first list broker to call her back with more information. We are distributing leads from a variety of direct marketers with some pretty hefty customer acquisition budgets, one recent inquirer is looking to order 12 million names in 2008. The increased awareness of mailing lists — much due to the presence of free list research portals used to find mailing lists on the Web — is fueling demand.

Leadsl_2It's hard to believe that so much effort is focused on proactive sales, when new customers are waiting at the doorstep. They keep knocking, but many of us are too busy cold-calling to answer the door. Is it because they "Just Need A Mailing List" and we're looking for the next big campaign management opportunity? Or have we lost sight of the simple truth that a mailing list is just what many prospects are looking for?

So what's happening with the list business? I think that we're all trying to figure that out. Some managers and brokers are embracing the traditional list buyer and are less prepared for the future of marketing convergence. Others are re-positioning themselves in such a manner that comprehensive solutions, many of which are promoted by list brokers and managers, are the face of their organization. In my opinion, none of it matters all that much as long as the customers' needs are met. 

Most industry veterans can share stories about how easy it was to grow list rental income by doing just a little more than maintaining data cards. Today, there are more than 60,000 active list titles for mailers and brokers to choose from, and many of these titles are taglines for databases containing hundreds of millions of names, addresses, and enhanced data points. From an economic perspective, there is more supply than ever before — but what about the demand for lists? Has traditional list rental taken a back seat to predictive analytics?

Of course not — these products and services are integrated complements not mutually exclusive substitutes. However, the commoditization of mailing lists has changed the landscape of the direct marketing environment, while regression analysis tools and other analytical resources are being applied and refined at a much higher frequency than in the past. Advances in technology have undoubtedly enabled direct marketers to apply these solutions at a lower cost, and many multi-title list owners are further monetizing the value of their house file through enhancements and modeling.

All of this is great for the future of major mailers and multi-channel marketers, but what about the new business owner who wants to rent a response list or order a few thousand names froma compiled database? These mailers are looking for a solution — and that solution is a mailing list. They are getting lost in the shuffle — and are ready and willing to buy. Can you help them? We'll do our best to provide them with industry definitions from the direct marketing glossary.

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