Buying Lists What Every Direct Marketer Needs to Know
By Ilene Schwartz
Most articles I've read about the intricacies of buying lists begin with the same seemingly simple advice—find a good list broker. First off, finding a good list broker is not always such a simple task. And second, while you may work with some of the best list brokers in the country, the decision of what lists to mail is ultimately yours to make.
Since list brokers often have particular areas of expertise (insurance, opportunity seekers, circulation, fund raising, etc.) they specialize in working with mailers within that area. If you are a large direct marketer whose business fits into one of these traditional categories, you are likely to have an easier time of finding a broker to assist you. If your company is smaller, or if you are a direct marketing agency, with a variety of clients both large and small, it is particularly important to be able to tackle some of the list research independently if necessary, since you may not find one broker who can fulfill all of your requirements. You must develop the knowledge and expertise necessary to research, analyze and prioritize the best lists to market your products or services.
So, when buying lists, what do you need to know? Just about everything. Here are some strategies for researching lists, buying lists and how to work effectively with brokers.
Have Direct Access to List Information
Subscribe to direct marketing trade publications and online newsletters. These industry publications regularly feature list information and often provide updates on new lists, new selections and list management changes. Also consider subscribing to the SRDS Direct Marketing List Source. This book describes just about every list on the market and can be extremely helpful in doing your own preliminary list research. Basic information featured can help you communicate more effectively with your broker and give them direction. You can also identify lists of interest and sources and go directly to the list manager/owner's Web site if you need immediate information.