By Paul Barbagallo
Like any successful marriage, even one with cyclical doses of quarreling and reconciling, a sound mailer-list broker partnership is founded on trust.
Fostering a relationship of open data exchange and healthy communication is the key to realizing the potential of this mailer-broker union, list gurus attest.
"We view our vendors as partners in our business," shares Bill Buchler, vice president of marketing for home maintenance catalog HSN Improvements. "A strong partnership allows for trust, and because of that partnership, I trust [my list broker] with my data. If you're in a situation where you don't have that level of trust, then maybe you're going to hold back from disclosing that vital information."
To explore this direct marketing one-two punch, I interviewed three mailer-list broker duos:
>Derek Glass, former marketing director and current consultant for telecommunications firm Working Assets, and Steve Kehrli, senior account executive at Names in the News;
>Buchler and Steve Bogner, president of NRL Direct; and
>Julie Chapman, marketing manager for The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and Bob Portner, senior account executive for Kroll Direct Marketing.
They each shared nuances of their relationships, list brokering best practices and what it takes to keep the union intact.
For list brokers to make adequate selections and recommendations—commonly referred to as list recos—they obviously need their clients to trust them enough to disclose needed information, i.e., past results, rate of response and changes in products and services.
"It's vital for a list broker to have a global perspective of the mailer and what their goals are," asserts Steve Kehrli, Names in the News. "If I'm able to know what's going on within the organization—if they're making a turn, or discounting a product or service—I will have some direction so I can move ahead and make plans."