Editorial: Best Practices
"This cataloger can't wait for the ban to happen! We will never do telemarketing. It is rude, intrusive and maddening!" she wrote in response to a story that ran in DM News earlier this month. "When I'm at home, I can't stand running for the phone only to get a hang-up."
However, Lazar didn't stop there as she then took on the entire direct marketing industry: "For that matter, I resent any company selling my name, address, phone number or e-mail address. How dare they violate my privacy that way! ... I will do business with whom I choose to do business. I'm the first person to throw out 'junk mail.' Yes, that's what most of it is. It's unsolicited and unwanted and unnecessary. And, by the way, my company doesn't sell private information either, and we state that proudly in both our print and online catalogs."
Intrigued in hearing how Lazar stays in business, I gave her a call and found out she uses word of mouth to grow her 26,000-name file. Her primary customers are police, military and fire organizations -- and many are officers at their home addresses, which is why she keeps the information to herself. Lazar tried using compiled lists twice, "but they were both an absolute disaster. We were getting returns from military bases that closed five, 10 years ago." ... Hold on there. Lazar has purchased lists, but she won't put hers on the market? Yes, it's a contradiction, she admits, but "I'm just trying to protect my customers." In her letter, she ended: "I [don't] see a contradiction in a direct marketer who chooses to do business in a fair, open and honest way -- one who chooses to protect the privacy of her customers, not abuse the information I'm given. If more of us spoke out against some of the questionable practices in our industry, we would have a more honorable industry."
Obviously, Lazar's method won't work for everyone, but are some of the industry's commonplace practices questionable? Is there room for honor in this dog-eat-dog world? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll feature some of your comments in an upcoming issue.