Finding the Right List Broker (1,098 words)
by Denny Hatch
Let's back off from Web design, database marketing, modeling, interactivity and all the other high-falutin, high-tech terms that have spread through direct marketing like an out-of-control, metastasizing cancer.
Direct marketing is, quite simply, a process where a seller attempts to talk to a buyer on a one-to-one basis. Stan Rapp calls it "intimate advertising." Success in direct marketing is pinned to a single, overarching principle:
"Reaching the right person with the right offer at the right time, which means finding the name on an accurate, recently updated list."
And the person to find that name is a list broker.
The late Ed Mayer's rule is still operative a half century later: "Success in direct marketing is dependent upon 40 percent lists, 40 percent offer and 20 percent everything else."
Thus, the two principal players are the marketer (who figures out the offer and creates the want) and the list broker (who finds the prospects). Everyone else is a bit player.
"I know of no marketer," said the late Dick Benson, "who spends enough time on lists." Savvy marketers spend much of their time on lists. And they do it in conjunction with a savvy list broker.
What Brokers Bring to the Party
Today, as 50 years ago, every marketer and every list broker has access to every list. A list is a commodity, just like soy beans, oil or gold. But list brokers who deal with a number of clients know which lists are working and which aren't. They may not know precise response numbers, but if a client tests a list and comes back for a rollout, that's exceedingly valuable information.
In times past, list usage was highly confidential. Today, managers tell brokers who mailed what list and which lists did and didn't work—an essential element in the testing mix. And by the way, always, always, always share results with your list broker! Otherwise that key player will be flying in a hurricane with no instruments.