Lists in the New World
The past year has been puzzling, frustrating and, most of all, challenging for direct marketers. Should I cut back on my prospecting efforts? Can I trust results from lists I tested last fall? These are just some of the questions direct marketers have been pondering.
We've been wondering how the congruence of Sept. 11, anthrax, a down-market economy and distrust of business leaders has affected lists. To gain some perspective, Target Marketing's Hallie Mummert talked with Brian Kurtz, executive vice president of Boardroom Inc., a publisher of newsletters and books.
Target Marketing: How have changes in messaging strategies affected lists?
Kurtz: What a lot of people are finding is that if your control group is a list that is in one of your continuation files, then the same type of message you've been using over and over—whatever the number of years—all of a sudden isn't resonating the same way with that audience.
So what happens is that when you change the messaging—whether it's to cocooning, security or whatever fits for your product—you're not going to go out and find a bunch of new lists to mail. You might, but my sense is that the average person is now simply responding to different messaging—because the world's changed.
I'm making the assumption that all lists move with the universe. Anything that affects consumer behavior in such an incredible way as Sept. 11 and anthrax, to some degree … those issues are bigger issues than anything we've seen in quite awhile. I don't see how your creative can't be sensitive to [that].
TM: Couldn't these new messaging strategies be applicable to new lists?
Kurtz: Any time you change the creative approach, there is always the possibility of opening up new list markets. It's just as true now as it's ever been.
We had situations [at Boardroom] where we had different versions of the same offer, and each one went to a different list universe. You have that with sweeps and non-sweeps, for instance.