Bruce Dulberg, CEO, HomeData Corp.
There is a sometimes daunting level of unique terminology in our business. We have our own lingo, and the new list employee has to learn the acronyms and phrases in a hurry. Though a bit dated, I’d recommend reading Rose Harper’s book, “Mailing List Strategies” as a good start.
It also helps to get to know the players and insiders in this game. Who are the shakers, as well as ‘fakers’ in their respective areas of expertise? Who is consistently getting high marks? The new employees can give themselves a great leg up by learning who’s who.
Coming into this business, you have to understand the metrics, in terms of pricing, payment terms and respective commissions. In the old days, data alone was king, but those days are gone. The cost of doing business is higher than ever, and in the effort to hold the line, the list, as a variable cost, is often the first place buyers look to cut. Note that other variables like postage and paper are fixed costs. Quality list professionals, in all fairness, will always try to ensure that all parties involved get a fair shake.
I think, ultimately, that the best way to learn this business is how I learned: just throw them out there. It sounds a little cruel, but experience is still the best teacher. One thing they’ll learn quickly is that our industry isn’t really about the numbers, it’s about the relationships. Your relationship to your customers, to your vendors, and even to your friends and rivals in the industry, is the key to success. Develop and cultivate those relationships, and the rest will follow.
Jerry Reisberg, Managing Director, Leaps & Bounds, LLC
Besides learning the basics about a great many subjects: compiled, response, consumer, B-to-B, and the wealth of overlays and demographic targeting, associates who are new to the list business should be made to feel an immediate sense of pride in this profession.