List Business Has Changed Since Compiled Lists Were Anathema

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The article and subsequent letters about compiled lists were provocative to many of us ("Compiled Lists Are Worthless," June 27). Thirty years ago, when I was selecting lists for newsletters, we did not even consider compiled lists. We rented paid subscribers and book buyers. If we were lucky enough to create a mailing that was a big winner, we would test controlled lists and perhaps a directory or two. Compiled lists were anathema.

The list business has changed since then.

In business to business, Vin Gupta and other entrepreneurs learned to validate names and job functions through telephone calls to everyone on their lists.

In the consumer world, specialty compilers have learned to merge multiple data sources: new moves, warranty cards, retail purchases, Internet registrations and ZIP+4 credit data. Their monthly hotlines compete head to head with mail-order buyers, catalog hotlines and subscriber lists.

Consumer mailers blessed with growing businesses and strong prospecting offers have been willing to test lists from these specialty compilers with huge success, expanding their universe of prospects far beyond their tried-and-true response files.

In 2004, MH2 Direct shipped more than 240 million hotline prospects, mostly in continuations, to 80 different mailers. We are shipping lists at the same pace in 2005. Clients include some of the biggest names in fashion catalogs, general merchandise, book clubs, record clubs, insurance and credit card issuers. We even have a model working for a health newsletter. And, yes, as your article said, because we provide the same value as the hotline response lists, we charge the same prices.

Mark Potter, Senior vice president, MH2 Direct, Norwalk, CT

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