Panelists Cite Technology, Training as Crucial

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NEW YORK -- The use of and investment in technology and employee training are critical to a business as labor intensive as the list industry, according to the opening panel of list professionals here yesterday at the Direct Marketing Association's List Vision 2002 conference at the Waldorf Astoria.


"We are the business of exception," said Ben Perez, president of Millard Group Inc., Peterborough, NH. Every order is an exception in the list industry, he said of orders that are tailored for each purchase.


The panelists also agreed that business has been tough in the past few years.


"Our industry is not isolated from the business world at large," said Chris Paradysz, CEO of Paradysz Matera, New York. Though the list business was insulated somewhat from the economy in the past, he said, that no longer is the case.


David W. Florence, founder/chairman of Direct Media Inc., Greenwich, CT, said that business leveled off in early 2001 and has been flat ever since.


Perez said he saw the slowdown begin in October 2000 but that things were picking up. Even so, he said that testing has dropped off about 8 percent, new mailers had decreased about 15 percent and that revenue was down by double-digit figures.


Panelists were unsure about predicting a year into the future. When asked to look ahead three years, predictions for the list industry included increased use of technology, continued consolidation, higher postal rates and continued privacy issues.


Bob Castle, direct marketing consultant and chairman of the conference, moderated the discussion.


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