Ways to Save on Lists (807 words)
by Ed Burnett
Strategies to consider for making the most of your list BUDGET in 1999
It's almost the new year, the time of resolutions. And for direct mailers, a smart resolution to make at any time is to pay more attention to the lists we mail, especially for prospecting. Smart list work pays off in two huge ways.
First, you save money on the three "P's"—postage, paper and printing—because you're not sending out wasted mailings to the wrong folks. This is particularly important next year as we face another postal rate hike. Second, by paying close attention to list selections, you reach the people you need to reach and therefore get the best response.
With that in mind, we asked some list professionals for their best ideas to help mailers get the biggest bang for their list bucks in 1999.
• Revisit all your list deals. Ask for something on every order, suggests Kris Snyder, vice president/catalog brokerage, at The Millard Group. "Little tiny concessions do add up. You don't always need home runs. Home runs didn't win the World Series. Base hits did. Consistently good deals will make the difference in your bottom line."
Plus, whenever this industry goes through a postal increase, it's a good opportunity to go back and look at the basics, she adds.
• Make sure there are SIC codes on business files you plan to mail. That's the single most important thing business mailers can do to reduce the cost of prospecting, which in turn reduces the cost of list rentals, says long-time list guru Ed Burnett, now an industry consultant. Then, you can clone on the basis of SIC codes and find more business prospects that resemble the ones that responded to you in the past and became your customers.
• On the consumer side, use a modeling system to reduce the amount of wasted list rental names and prospect mailings going out, Burnett says.
Consider a mailing campaign costing $400 to $500/M to get in the mail, says Michael Morreale, senior vice president at First Data Solutions/Donnelley Marketing. "The bulk of that cost is postage, paper and printing. Lists are only 10 to15 percent of that." So how do you decrease the total amount?
Through better targeting of your audience, Morreale says. To that end, he says that benefits of modeling are now available to more mailers through pre-modeled databases like the Buyer Behavior Index of 100 million names offered by First Data. "This takes away the cost of a custom model," he explains.
• Do away with wasted mail. "Not the kind that's fixed by merge/purge and NCOA, although that's important, too," says Morreale. "I'm talking about when you mail to someone over 65 years of age for an offer targeting women ages 18 to 34. That cost is not factored in anywhere."
• Use the best list you can afford, says Cindy Dunhill, vice president of Dunhill International List Co. That means in every sense of the word: the best quality names and the cleanest list, as well as one that's been Carrier-Route Sorted, CASS-certified and run against the MPS (Mail Preference Service ) file.
Another interesting point: When you're doing merge/purge, be sure that all suppresses are done first so the merge is completed on the proper net. This will reduce your cost, says Sheldon Zaslansky, president of Walter Karl, a division of InfoUSA.
• Negotiate with your suppliers. Dunhill says it often pays to ask for volume discounts, net-names arrangements and second-use/re-use discounts. Even incremental savings can add up over time, she notes.
Zaslansky adds that you can try to negotiate running charges, for instance negotiating for one-and-a-half runs instead of three.
• Partner with your list brokers. You can make much more effective list decisions working in partnership with the list experts you have hired: your brokers. "Let us help you be smart and be frugal when necessary," Millard Group's Snyder says. The way to do that is to let your brokers in on the analytical side of things. "If you don't share results and give use feedback, we can't provide you with the best possible advice."
• Investigate new list products and processes. Don't just look at a particular list, look at what a new technology or new list enhancement product might do for that list, Snyder notes.
• Don't nitpick. Have realistic goals for saving money. "Don't agonize over something so long and hard that you end up spending the equivalent of $100 in administrative expense to save $10 on a list rental or processing job," Snyder says. It's important that the individuals responsible for negotiating deals know when to stop pressing and move on, she adds.
On the consumer side, use a modeling system to reduce the amount of wasted list rental names and prospect mailings going out.