Q&A: Jim Healy, principal, Healy List Marketing

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James Healy
James Healy

Jim Healy, principal of Healy List Marketing, discusses his favorite retro direct marketing machine and how trekking the base camp of Mount Everest is similar to marketing.

Direct Marketing News (DMN): You got started in the direct marketing industry more than 25 years ago. What are some of the major changes you've seen?

Jim Healy (Healy List Marketing): The single biggest change is the communication flow, particularly in digital. The speed you and I can communicate is very quick. One thing is, for sure, the speed has increased exponentially, unlike traditional. If I go way back, the first machine we used was a QWIP (quantum well infrared photodetector). This was in the mid-1980s.

DMN: Why do we see so many list providers moving from print to email? Will your company ever fully make that transition?

Healy: Email's speed is remarkably fast. We do primarily print and email. A lot of data we have is postal mail. We have a certain amount of email. We send our data out for email appending. Postal is one of the channels that still proves to be successful. It has always been interactive because it still needs to be handled. It still needs to be touched. There's a lifetime value to consumer catalogs. Even b-to-b catalogs have some lifetime value. L.L. Bean catalogs stay on the coffee tables and sit around for a long time.

DMN: We've seen several data companies recently make the move to become full-range services? Why is this?

Healy: I get the sense that it's like a pendulum. So many competitors are trying to do all things for all people. Infogroup was trying to be all things to all people and now they're downsizing. Marketers get lost in that shuffle. There's a swing-back to individual providers. The key for direct and digital marketers is to gain knowledge about the industry. It's more beneficial for a marketer to use multiple sources. Even if it's more expensive, there will be better results.

DMN: You recently trekked through the base camp of Mount Everest. What was that like? How has it made you a better marketer?   

Healy: Both are a pain-work approach. With Everest, the players came together, the guides, the head of guides, the individual groups, and we went over our responsibilities for the trek. Each day we'd meet and summarize what we had accomplished and what we needed to do for the next day. You can make that analogy to an individual direct marketer. He's in control of going to a data supplier, a printer, a digital channel, a telemarketing channel, and that marketer is in control just like an expedition leader.

DMN: Your lists contain records of individuals with income greater than $75,000 annually who have made at least two purchases, generally greater than $100, during the past 12 months. Would you ever expand beyond that demo?

Healy: The key to understanding our brands is that the records are all purchase-based with [recency, frequency and money] characteristics available. The income level of $100,000-plus is one of several others available, but we use $100,000-plus as our standard because we think it enriches the data.

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