Twenty years selling lists has taught me...
Twenty years ago a country boy headed to the big smoke to work in a marketing agency. Fresh out of university back home in Ballarat, he found himself working as a list broker and that not many people he spoke to knew what that was!
In the early days he was still learning the ropes and some valuable lessons that would hold him in good stead for the rest of his career. Learning to turn down campaigns that simply had no chance of working, others that may offend people, some which are not relevant to an ill defined target market and that under promise/over-deliver is the best approach.
He found that most of the reputable list suppliers he worked with had not only the cleanest lists, but also staff who believed in their product, offered great service which really stood out if there were problems because they were hellbent on retaining that client.
What also emerged was a subsection of list providers who cut corners. They tended to come and go fairly quickly and obviously did not care that their recklessness turned their clients off direct marketing entirely.
He found that most of his clients knew their target market well, cared about their campaign, and respected the laws surrounding direct marketing. He was however surprised that there were many other clients in the opposite camp on all three.
Every few years there seemed to be a new piece of legislation which would restrict direct marketing, even talk of prohibition at times which never came to pass. He was passionate about his industry and fortunate enough to speak to politicians, including a Communications Minister to outline his concerns of the impracticalities of their proposals.
Bottom line he learnt that it's people, not companies that make campaigns work. Good people who are talented at what they do, treat other people well, are not afraid to be honest and open, are organised and follow through on what they say they will do.
He made some life long friends on both the client and supplier side and hopefully helped play a minor role in the successful growth of many companies throughout Australia, helped champion the direct marketing sector as a reputable one and ultimately was good to deal with.
Thank you to all who have supported me over the years and continue to do so. While the industry has declined in recent years, there are still many great lists out there containing your future long term clients. Let's go and find them before someone else does!