List Industry at a Crossroads

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For those of you involved in the list side of the business, our special report on the state of the industry is a must read. We queried executives from several list companies about the biggest issues facing them and how they've adapted to new technologies. The answers are eye opening, revealing insights into some of the industry's problems. Commissions, consolidation, lack of new files, privacy and regulation, lack of investment. Those are some of the topics touched upon.

We also feature bylined articles from more list leaders, who report on the cooperative databases on the market, e-mail lists, the business-to-business landscape and how companies can stay relevant in these changing times. List results are down from their peak five years ago, and list sizes have declined considerably. Meanwhile, mailers cut their marketing staffs and looked to their service firms to take up the slack. Margins on both sides of the business are down.

What to do? Some say diversify. Others say invest in new technologies. Still others say adjust the business model to fit today's business climate. The alternative isn't pretty.

Reform Now!

Since I railed on for so long about how quickly Congress passed national no-call legislation two years ago, I would be remiss not to mention the House's passage of a postal reform bill last week. I watched the debate for three hours on C-SPAN as some legislators got caught up in congratulatory speeches while others butted heads over four amendments, including one about not allowing a seat on the Board of Governors to be filled by a representative of the postal labor unions. In the end, a 410-20 vote is a clear sign of bipartisanship that the Bush administration should not ignore as it remains bullheaded about what is basically a stamp tax just so there's no "adverse impact on the federal budget."

The House legislation takes away the responsibility of funding employees' retirement costs associated with time spent in the military. The Senate version also takes away that responsibility. Even President Bush's handpicked presidential commission said to take away this responsibility. Supposedly, the administration has a compromise in mind. I can't wait to hear what it is. Of course, this discussion is moot if the Senate gets wrapped up in John Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court and forgets about reform.

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