List Leader Has Creative Concerns With Industry

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The Direct Marketing Association List and Database Council will honor Lesli Rodgers as "List Leader of the Year'' at an awards ceremony tonight (Aug. 10) in New York that precedes tomorrow's DMA List Day Conference at the Plaza Hotel.

Rodgers, president of the consulting and strategic planning firm LR Direct, Danbury, CT, has been a part of the list industry since 1972 as a mailer, list broker, list manager, list owner and consultant. She has helped design computer systems for such companies as American List Counsel, Names Unlimited and AZ Marketing and consulted on the improvement of merge/purge techniques and other functions with many other list companies.

Looking back over her career, Rodgers sees entrepreneurship and technology as vital to the industry's development but worries that mergers are stifling creativity.

"Companies are being homogenized, pasteurized and humongosized through acquisitions and mergers,'' Rodgers said. "I am a little concerned because it is the entrepreneurial spirit that made the industry what it is and individuals who are willing to step outside of the mold that have created all the things about the industry that are so good.''

As list companies grow, Rodgers said automation is replacing too many of the functions that are better left to individuals.

"People coming into the business aren't being given enough opportunity to learn how to be innovative,'' she said. "While technology has been our greatest tool and asset, we are in danger of letting it do our thinking for us. If you take out the creativity of the individual, there is no reason to be called a marketer.''

Rodgers' role as a consultant typically causes her to oversee the work of other list companies and she continues to be amazed how competing brokers deliver such uniquely different recommendations to the same client.

"The overlap is not what you might think; the approach is never the same,'' she said. "That's what makes the industry great and that's what we all thrive on.''

During the course of her career, Rodgers formed her own consulting firm, Leslie Rodgers Associates, in 1982 and merged it with ALC, Princeton, NJ, in 1986. She restarted her company as LR Direct in 1991. Rodgers is past chairwoman of the DMA List Leaders Group and founder and adviser of List Leaders Basic Training curriculum.

The DMA List Leader of the Year is presented to a professional with at least 10 years of experience in the list community and is active in one of the following areas: ethics, education, list practices and standards, privacy, postal reform, communication or environmental concerns.

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