List View-History Lessons (877 words)
Price negotiation has evolved into something we take for granted. Indeed, our job has become just as much about that as it is about list recommendation. It's almost unheard of for a broker to place an order without asking for a concession, regardless of use, frequency or quantity requested. This has helped, as well as hurt, our industry. For example, the broker's role has come into question, and today's mailers often select brokers based on pennies saved rather than on market knowledge.
In the past two decades, I've read many articles focusing on the effectiveness of brokers in the face of excessive discounting, as well as how brokers should be compensated. One thing that will never change, however, is how critical it is for a list broker to have adequate experience. Price should be only one of many considerations when choosing a list broker, and certainly not the most important factor.
A good broker is a mailer's lifeline, and a knowledgeable broker is important to the client's ultimate success. Equally important is for brokers to realize their limitations and not promise clients expertise in areas that fall outside their domain, such as merchandising and creative strategies.
Broker compensation. In terms of broker compensation, one factor that's hurting us all is Abacus. The creation of Abacus and similar transactional databases has overall been good for the industry, but Abacus differs in one important aspect from its competitors: It doesn't offer broker commissions. In this day of ever-increasing competition for a limited amount of funds, this is a significant issue that should be openly and fairly addressed in the industry.
Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not questioning Abacus' value to the industry. But its stance on broker commissions seems unfair. When Abacus first began it could have eliminated all competition and saved millions in salaries if it made the list-brokerage community its sales force, a true partnership much like the Lifestyle Selector product of the 1980s and '90s, and Z-24 today.