List Primer Part III: Selecting The Right List Brokerage For Your Offer
There are thousands of lists on the market and there are plenty of list brokers you can choose from to match up your catalog and its customers to the best prospects. And like any industry, there are some great list brokerages and some sleazy ones.
A little research goes a long way when searching for the right list broker or brokerage. Bottom line: You want to find the broker who handles clients that are similar to you. For example, if you’re an apparel cataloger, find a list brokerage that handles many apparel catalog titles. If you serve a tight niche, find a list broker that also serves that space. And of course, if you’re a B-to-B mailer, look for one that specializes in B-to-B lists.
Most list brokerages also manage lists. If they manage lists from catalogers that closely resemble yours, you can tap into a great deal of competitive intelligence. That’s not to say that information about your competitors will be given to you specifically. But a list company can put its smarts into putting a plan together for you that can drive new customer acquisitions.
Selecting a list broker comes down to one word: affinity. Affinity to your products, your category and your customers.
In searching for the right list broker for your business, seek out the few that fit on the affinity front, then put them to the test. Get a detailed proposal that provides all the bells and whistles, such as datacards, list usage (which mailers have recently used the lists the broker is recommending, who tested these lists, and, if available, who continued to use the lists again).
When you receive the package with the list recommendation, you should also get copies of the competitors’ catalogs, mailers, etc. Then ask how the names on this list were derived, and by seeing the actual vehicle or vehicles that drove the names onto the list, you can better understand why you would want to test this list. (Blogger’s note: Next week I’ll discuss how to take a list recommendation and whittle it down to the specific lists to test.)
Next, ask for the broker’s best recommendation, but in a very specific way: “If you were my client, which lists would you use, and why?” After all, a little accountability goes a long way!
One list broker I used a while back also sent me information it tracked at the time on catalogers in my client’s category, how many times the competitors’ catalogs got mailed, timing and seasonality of their mailings, and what special offers were used. That all gave me a pretty good landscape of the market my client was mining.
Another time, I received a market survey of all of the catalogs (and other mailers) in a specific niche, as well as estimations of the size of that niche, based on the circulation figures of these catalogs. This gave me a pretty good overview of the total universe of names that the client had available to potentially acquire. From this information, I was able to build a projection model to estimate the size and pace the company could grow to.
Although it may seem obvious, also take into consideration the quality of the relationship you develop with your broker. Bear in mind that 40 percent of the positive and/or negative impact you can have on your direct marketing business is based upon the lists you choose. So make sure you choose a broker who’s willing to be your partner in your success, and not just another vendor in your mix.
Next week, we’ll discuss how to take all of the info you get from your broker and turn that into an action plan.
Speak to you next week.
Jim Gilbert has had a storied career in direct and digital marketing resulting in a burning desire to tell stories that educate, inform, and inspire marketers to new heights of success.
After years of marketing consulting, Jim decided it was time to “put his money where his mouth was" and build his own e-commerce company, Premo Natural Products, with its flagship product, Premo Guard Bed Bug & Mite Sprays. Premo in its second year is poised to eclipse 100 percent growth.
Jim has been writing for Target Marketing Group since 2006, first on the pages of Catalog Success Magazine, then as the first blogger for its online division. Jim continues to write for Total Retail.
Along the way, Jim has led the Florida Direct Marketing Association as their Marketing Chair and then three-term President, been an Adjunct Professor of Direct and Digital marketing for Miami International University, and created a lecture series, “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing,” which he has presented across the country at conferences and universities.