Is your list management sales performance meeting your clients' expectations? How often do you exceed the list rental income projections you set for them? It's not easy to win new business with conservative forecasts, and there are a lot of empty 'projection promises' out there to contend with. The good thing about a recessionary period is that it brings reality back to forecasting. Nevertheless, the uphill battle for list rental income continues, and change is required for survival. Here are three tips for list managers who are ready for a change:
Most list companies are great at this, and they have some of the most creative talent in-house. There are also key points of differentiation that every list marketer can use to their advantage. Determine what really sets you apart, and make sure everyone knows that about your organization. Also re-consider the value proposition for your prospect data. Lists may not be as pretty as snowflakes, but each one is unique. In most cases, you don't need to re-invent yourself -- just re-position yourself. Create a list profile, market the audience, and be different. Leverage the fact that your clients need help sorting through an increasing number of options in a multi-channel world.
Tip 2: Be found
If you want to be found, then you need to be where people are looking. For example, Google estimates that there are more than 200,000 'list management' keyword searches every month. For 'marketing' search volume it's 68,000,000 per month. Compare that with the BPA statement for your favorite direct marketing trade publication, and you'll see that it makes sense to 'go digital for postal'.
Most list companies have some catching up to do in this area, but they don't realize that they already have the secret weapon for reaching their audience. Data cards are best for grabbing targeted leads by the long tail. What's most important is that you get found when someone is searching for what you do best!
Tip 3: Be efficient
Learning to be efficient and understanding opportunity costs are not mutually exclusive. Spending time responding to count requests for tire kickers is costly, but the real issue is the opportunity cost of those efforts. The same is true for updating data cards on your web site, re-keying list order information, compiling mailing list usage data, and auditing list information. The list industry was at maturity ten years ago, so there is no room for redundancy if you want to be around in the future. Fortunately, it is much easier to address those issues today than it used to be. It's time to put your infrastructure in the cloud and get focused differentiation and value. Systems infrastructure, disaster recovery, and software applications will only distract you from your mission. Software as a service (Saas) is like the electric company for b2b; they'll keep the lights on so you can see clearly and stay focused.
Ask for help
In all these things, don't go at it alone. There are organizations that can help you get you where you need to be. Change can be profitable and the payback periods are shorter than they used to be. The Internet has enabled organizations of any size to compete effectively by leveraging the economies of scale that Saas companies and cloud computing can provide. For example, Salesforce.com has done a great job enabling companies of any size to compete and collaborate effectively. Building an in-house CRM system rarely makes good business sense anymore, and the same principles apply to other functions as well.
"Put a search engine in that car!"