Strategy Why You Should Rent Your Customer List (1,130 words)
by Stephen R. Lett
Even today, there are still a number of catalog companies, particularly business-to-business mailers, who do not want to rent their file to other qualified mailers. These firms do not rent their buyer files to non-competitors, nor do they exchange names with other reputable firms.
Do these companies know something other catalogers don't know? Are they trying to protect their customers from mailbox clutter? Or are they missing out on list rental income—income that drops straight to the bottom line? Or are they paying more to acquire new buyers?
This month, I will discuss the benefits of renting a company's number-one asset: your valuable customer list.
According to a leading list-management company, approximately 10 percent (or less) of all consumer catalog companies and an estimated 25 percent of all business-to-business catalogers do not rent or exchange names with any outside company. Conversely, some companies will exchange names only with others whose list they wish to use. These companies make up about half of all consumer catalog companies that do not rent or exchange names. It used to be that a cataloger would have difficulty obtaining lists if it were not willing to rent its own file. This mindset has changed since companies are hungrier for list rental income to help their bottom line. But, there is no question that not renting or exchanging names can and does impact lists made available to you for prospecting.
The Rules Have Changed
If you are a consumer catalog company, I see no reason why you should not rent your housefile. For those of you who are business-to-business catalogers, the decision to rent or not to rent may be a more difficult one. When marketing to a business, the decision maker is more difficult to reach, therefore your own list could be more proprietary than someone else's. However, if the offer is non-competitive, why not rent? If the offer is more competitive, you might want to consider an exchange.