DM News' Essential Guide to Lists and Databases: Dive Into International Waters

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Go diving in international waters, and it will net you pearls in profits.

Our 10-year-old international division at List Services Corp. has grown and evolved by adhering to this simple concept. We started with a few select lists and today manage more than 30 clients and a universe of 100 million responsive names in the consumer and business arena. The world is an ocean of direct marketing possibilities, and with technology and other advancements making it more accessible, U.S. mailers need to test these waters.

We suggest that U.S. mailers successful at home consider mailing to countries where English is the native language, or is widely spoken, such as Canada, Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. In these locales, most goods or services are compatible with little adjustment, plus no language barriers. Our clients have done well in these areas with offers such as general merchandise, subscriptions and fundraising. We have seen great success tapping Canadian niche markets and building a solid consumer and business base.

But why let language be prohibitive? If your offer has a wide market, it's worth the investment to get a good translation of your mail piece. In addition to the favorable rate of exchange that many countries offer, consider the needs and economic growth in some of the emerging countries of western Europe and the unifying euro currency, which simplifies back-end processing.

Think Asia. China is an extraordinarily fast-growing market for a world of consumer and business products and services. Consider India, where the English-speaking and -comprehending middle class of 250 million-plus is expanding. One of our top international clients has found great success in this market.

Latin America is another rich but relatively untapped source.

You can save on mail and shipping costs by working with distributors in these countries to facilitate mail campaigns as well as aid in merchandise fulfillment. Here's added incentive: A lot of orders are reciprocal rental, in which each mailer agrees to rent each other's names.

Be aware that each country has different privacy laws, and mailers need to familiarize themselves with these standards before mailing into those countries. Consider attending, as we do, the annual International Direct Marketing Fair in London. The next one is May 9-11.

Our international clients have made the world their oyster. Shouldn't you?

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