Brokers, Managers Should Change Titles

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As the direct marketing world continues to evolve and become more digitally oriented, list brokers and managers are adapting-- though slowly -- by beginning to offer services that go outside their traditional roots. It started last century with alternative/insert media, and it's continuing with e-mail, search and other online activities. While some list companies have been more aggressive in developing digital services to complement their postal world offerings, most have not gone beyond e-mail offerings to any significant degree.

For those who offer extended digital services, they represent a new revenue source but more importantly, an opportunity to become more valuable to their clients in a proactive manner. For those who do not offer these services, there is a potential serious downside that lurks in the not-so-distant future: loss of clients to companies that offer these services.

List brokers and managers need to not only change how they refer to themselves, but their mindsets and vision as well. List brokers should really be called "acquisition brokers" as they are primarily concerned with customer acquisition. That new title would cover everything from postal lists to e-mail lists to search, etc. List managers should be called "revenue managers" as they are primarily concerned with producing revenue for their clients. That new title would cover revenue from postal lists, e-mail lists, etc.

This is a big change, and it requires a real commitment by traditional list brokers and managers to expand what they do to meet the needs of their clients in today's digital world.

It requires education and time to learn about new technologies and programs, as well as additional time to forge new relationships. It doesn't have to require capital investment in technology and people. Some list companies are partnering with firms that offer sophisticated acquisition and tracking services.

In a review of the Web sites of 15 large and small list companies, I found the following services being offered:

· E-mail address append, 20 percent.

· Basic SEO, 13.33 percent.

· Advanced SEO, zero percent.

· Basic SEM, 13.33 percent.

· Advanced SEM, zero percent.

· CPA customer acquisition, 13.33 percent.

· Mail-to-Web tracking, zero percent.

· E-mail house file development, 20 percent.

· E-mail list brokerage, 33.33 percent.

· E-mail list management, 46.67 percent.

· E-mail tracking and reporting, 26.67 percent.

· E-mail delivery, 40 percent.

· Web diagnostics, 6.67 percent.

· Co-registrations, 6.67 percent.

· Web lead generation, 13.33 percent.

· Web site development, 6.67 percent.

While it is sometimes difficult to ascertain from a Web site the depth of these services, or whether or not the site has been updated to include new services offered, this unscientific exercise was instructive.

I couldn't find a single site promoting advanced SEO or SEM services, despite the fact that search is not only the hottest area of online advertising, but it has proven to be the holy grail for thousands of direct response advertisers.

Not one list company offered mail-to-Web tracking though every single broker and manager has clients that need this service.

The highest percentage of services is in the area of e-mail, which is a natural extension of postal mail, and very similar in many ways.

Only 13.33 percent of the companies surveyed offered online lead generation services.

As more direct marketers discover various online platforms that work, there is real danger that postal mail budgets may be shifted to online.

As the younger generation of Net-savvy, young people become the adults of tomorrow, there is a real likelihood that they will be more responsive to online marketing than offline. Today's managers and brokers need to morph into tomorrow's offline and online experts.

By becoming "acquisition managers," today's list brokers instantly broaden the ways in which they can find new sources and leads for their clients.

By becoming "revenue managers," today's list managers instantly broaden the ways in which they can find new sources of revenue for their clients.


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