List brokers need to play a more strategic role with their clients, and communicate that role better, if they want to survive in the ever-evolving field, ALC chairman/CEO Donn Rappaport said at his company’s annual For Brokers Only luncheon May 4 at New York’s Chelsea Piers.
“We do the research [for direct marketers], but do we effectively communicate the value of what we do?” Rappaport said. “As a result, we see a decline in commissions, high client turnovers, pending legislation in Washington, and a media that equates the sale of names with slave trading. As a community of list brokers, this is our own fault.”
Being a list broker, Rappaport said, is no longer about just selling names to clients. Today it includes storing information on what their customers have purchased in the past and predicting which consumers will buy in the future. Brokers need to take on more of a role as a target marketer, marrying offers that appeal to both marketer and consumer.
Consultancy is just as important a role for a broker as the buying and selling of lists. With Rappaport said his company, for example, develops executive summaries for clients to document its strategic contributions and has quarterly meetings with clients to focus on strategy.
“Our business is all about being predictive, and that is more important to the client than about shaving a point or two off commission rates,” Rappaport said.
Brokers also need to be more open with the mainstream media, Rappaport said, so that the industry is portrayed as an every day part of marketing life as opposed to its current portrayal of evil.
“We cannot remain quiet in the media, we have to carry the banner and inform the media about list brokerages,” Rappaport said. “We need to talk with the media about the strategies involved in direct marketing, not just about the tactics.”