When I started at Catalog Age, back in 1995, the list industry confounded me. It seemed strange that one division of a list firm helped catalogers make money by renting out their lists while another division of the same company worked with catalogers to find names to rent. In my naivete (a polite word for ignorance), I didn’t understand how one company could perform two such diverse functions.
Ah, the good ol’ days, when list companies had to excel in only two core competencies. Today, thanks largely to the explosion of multichannel marketing, many a list firm has expertise in dozens of specialities — modeling, cross-promotions, valuations…just about the only thing a list firm doesn’t do is hand-deliver the catalogs to buyers and prospects.
In fact, because so many list firms are evolving to become marketing consultancies, these may in actuality be the “good ol’ days” for catalogers. Not that every mailer will want to use its list firm for every one of its services — boutique firms and specialists will always have their place. But by offering more services, list companies are providing catalogers with more options. And in this ever-competitive business world, that can only be a good thing.