Need the Right Mailing Lists? Don’t Wait Until December

By now, merchants have no doubt locked in their printing and distribution schedules for the Christmas Holiday season. But no doubt there are many merchants, preoccupied with creative, merchandising, fulfillment and operations who have given scant attention to the list rental aspect of their marketing plans.

Too often, merchants tend to not afford the list broker sufficient time – from three to four weeks – to design, develop, revise and then execute a successful list rental program. It is a fact of life that other tasks tend to receive more attention and renting lists usually isn’t at the top of the mailers’ “to do” list. Time must be made for the broker to do his or job properly and well, without unnecessary pressure.

I think there are mailers who think it is not terribly sexy and important to deal with data, lists and “the process.” The smart, successful merchants pay close attention both marketing and merchandising.

These days, with the consumer ordering later and later in the month of December, mailing dates become even more important. We have been very proactive in seeking clearances for December mailing dates well in advance of placing orders. If our clients’ mailing dates are in conflict with the proposed mailing dates set by list owners (whose lists we want), we need to know well in advance, and we need to be able to make calm and deliberate adjustments to our clients’ circulation plans.

Fortunately, scheduling is not difficult, thanks to commonly available software that allows for reverse timeline planning. We can readily set the dates by which list recommendations must be sent to our clients, the date when the lists must be ordered, the date when the merge must be completed and at the printer, etc. We are very focused on making sure we all “own” the schedule, client and service providers alike, including the service bureau, the printer, the database alliances and the traffic managers in our list ordering department.

Good planning makes for good decision-making, and good decisions usually result in more successful mailings and less stressful times for all concerned!

Geoff Bartrouney is executive vice president at list firm Estee Marketing Group.

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