List View-History Lessons (877 words)
By Steve Bogner
Two sayings keep coming to my mind: "The more things change, the more they stay the same," and "History repeats itself." When looking at the past 26 years that I've been in the list services industry, it seems as if the same concerns keep resurfacing.
Postal rates. When I began my career at Walter Karl Inc., the industry was bracing itself for a postal increase. Sound familiar? Back then, the cost of mailing 1,000 Third-class pieces was about to increase to $39/M. The industry has made it through several postal increases and will survive the most recent one, as well.
Privacy issues are another concern. In the 1970s, The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) advocated self-regulation by starting its Mail Preference Service (MPS). The DMA promoted it by regularly placing ads in major consumer publications offering the name-removal service. There also was a small box in the corner of the ad that gave readers the chance to add their names to mailing lists for areas that interested them. As a result, while many people asked to have their names suppressed, many more requested to be added to certain lists.
Today, with the addition of the Internet and growth of e-mail marketing, consumers are more concerned than ever about privacy. I believe the DMA, and we as an industry, should tackle the privacy issue head-on like we did in the 1970s. Why not recreate those ad campaigns? This time, however, we could call attention to online and offline direct marketing and run ads in the fall/holiday season. Let's once again bring more customers to direct marketing by informing the public and promoting our industry in a positive light.
List price negotiation. Before basic merge purge was introduced, all lists were taken on Cheshire labels. If you rented 100,000 names, you paid for 100,000 names. The initial benefits of merge purge were realized through saved paper, printing and postage costs. Soon after, other benefits, in the form of price negotiation, were realized; brokers began negotiating for price reductions centered on various deductions and net names. This is when the term "computer verification" came into vogue.