Libey on Lists—Predictions for 2006 and Beyond
It’s Wednesday, August 16, at 9:30 in the morning, and all eyes in the room of List Vision attendees are glued on speaker Don Libey, partly because he’s sweating like a glass of iced tea on a hot Iowa afternoon and mostly because he’s systematically laying out the direction this industry will take over the next decade. Libey, who is principal of direct marketing consultancy Libey Incorporated, does not believe in mincing his words, and so he’s earned a reputation as being an extremist. What that means, in truth, is that most people don’t want to fully accept that his theories might be true because then they would have to make some tough decisions about how to adapt their own business strategies.
So, take the following five trends that Libey defined for the direct marketing industry with whatever size grain of salt feels right for you. Just don’t complain to him five or 10 years from now about how you wished you had given his predictions more serious consideration.
Trend No. 1: Consolidation in the list industry is only about half finished. As more and more list services firms become part of large public and private equity owned corporations, the focus will swing from being customer-driven to earnings-driven. This same priorities shift is occurring within American business in general, resulting in fewer and fewer people within companies who truly understand circulation and lists. This lack of knowledge makes it easier for marketers to rely on big data corporations who control these firms’ direct marketing process. Marketers must regain control of their business’ growth by investing in training on RFM, lifetime value and other direct marketing cost metrics.
Trend No. 2: Telecommunications and cable companies are making a play to grab control of the Internet. If Congress allows this to happen, these tech giants very easily will be able to determine, through pricing, which marketers’ sites get into the fast lane on the Web and which are relegated to the slow lane—thus damaging these organizations’ ability to provide a level of service sufficient to compete with better funded competitors.