Want to Rent Lists? See a Broker

Mar 10, 2008 10:48 PM  By

Sure, you can find your own lists. You can go online, make calls or go to the reference desk at your public library for an old copy of SRDS. Those resources can be valuable—in the right hands.

But how do you know you are getting the right list or insert program? How do you avoid duplication with files whose titles sound too familiar?

You may know just enough to be dangerous. You might pick a bunch of duds, run out of cash for new tests or both. And the risk is compounded if you’re not a good negotiator—you’ll probably end up paying too much for any rental.

But you can outsource this task to someone who shops for a living, knows how to interpret data, is dedicated to your interests and loves to wheel and deal.

Who’s that? The talented but unsung list broker.

A qualified list or insert broker can save your company thousands of dollars on rentals. Brokers maintain special relationships with insiders and decision makers at various companies. Best of all, their services are free. They receive compensation from individual list and owners and managers, whom they represent as “non-exclusive” sales agents.

Savvy mailers use brokers as unpaid staff for their marketing departments, because the good ones do a lot more than function as order takers. They may even be rewarded with loyalty and consulting fees if they go the extra mile to save their client’s money and improve response rates.

Brokers are matchmakers. They know how to present their clients to particular list and insert media program owners, in effect, helping them make a good first impression. And they are good negotiators.

If everything goes well, doors will open for you and your rentals or exchanges will get approved, often at reduced prices and favorable payment terms. They can even rekindle old flames between estranged partners and undo damage from failed relationships.

Many brokers possess “insider information” on which lists or inserts to mail in specific industries or market segments. They also know the value of relevant offers and timing, and how to read between the lines on a data card. Since they work with many mailers, they represent the “collective consciousness” of numerous campaigns. In fact, their advice can often make the difference between the literal success and failure of a given campaign.

Have you heard the proverb “a man who is his own lawyer has a fool as a client?” That applies to the list business when inexperienced clients tell veteran list and insert media brokers how to do their job.

It is a given among skilled direct marketers that the best of offers will fail if your lists or inserts are not appropriately targeted, all the more reason to have a trusted list or insert media professional working with you, and “let their fingers do the walking.”

David Kanter is CEO of AccuList, a list and insert media brokerage and management firm headquartered in Ventura, CA.