List industry needs recovery plan, says Libey

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A focus on margins, efficient data systems, solid analytics and customer service are among the essential components necessary for marketers to grow and profit during the economic recession, according to Donald Libey, president of Libey Inc., the keynote speaker on July 9 at the MeritDirect Co-op, an annual meeting for clients and members of the list world. Libey was optimistic about the future.

“There is reason to be happy,” Libey began. “We are embarking on what is going to be the most important change in our industry. Most of us are going to do just fine. We're going to be stronger, going to grow again and going to prosper, but we are going to be very very different, and that's good.”

He implored the audience to prepare for economic recovery by getting back to basics. He chastised those who “spent all their money trying to get Google to like them” and instead suggested a number of strategic and operational fixes for companies that may be scrambling.

First, he said, focus on margins. “Nothing happens without margins,” Libey reminded the audience, “and your margins are under pressure and being eroded before your very eyes.” He also reminded listeners that postage costs could not be kept in check unless they got involved in the cause.

Libey said attention must also be paid to managing leakage and to creating or purchasing more efficient data systems. Both efforts require investment but, in the end, can plug holes that have been draining companies of millions of dollars. In another push for company efficiency, Libey advised that marketers get on the same page regarding analytics.

“You have to be discussing the same metrics, the same numbers in the same meaningful way every day, or you will be leaving money on the floor,” he said.

He said marketers need to be sure circulation management is in the hands of experts, since it represents so much money for a company. Customer service, too, should be a core capability, he added, because those agents are the point of contact with customers. The call center is also a great resource for cleaning lists, many of which will become dirty in the recession-based upheaval.

Finally, Libey indicated smart companies will possess a long-term strategy, which is essential for recovery. Successful companies already have a recovery plan in place and have outlined various scenarios, he said.

Underlying all of these pieces is investment, Libey said, concluding, “Invest in the future, or it will bite you in the behind when recovery comes.”

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