The Basics of a List Recommendation

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List recommendations are the most effective way for list managers to get their lists noticed by brokers/mailers and also one of the more common sales tools used. List recommendations can be a simple outbound telesales call, an e-mail or a written, detailed document. The important thing is to get the best ideas sold to the broker/mailer and to get your lists used.


A good list recommendation is one that has been thoroughly researched by the list manager. To provide a good list recommendation, a list manager needs to get some information from the broker regarding the mailer. The more a list manager knows about his target audience (the mailer's targeted customer), the more on-track the recommendation will be.


There are many important questions to consider, including:


• How often does the catalog mail and does seasonality affect the type of lists used?


• How often does the broker present recommendations to the mailer? (Seasonally, every mailing, etc.)


• When does the broker need to prepare a recommendation for the mailer?


• When does the broker need the recommendation from the list manager?


• Who is the mailer targeting with its catalog?


• Is the merchandise mix/catalog direction changing from prior catalogs?


• What lists/types of lists work for the mailer?


This is key information for the list manager. Some mailers have a different merchandise mix based on the seasonality of the offer. Some mailers only prospect with one book per year while others prospect with every mailing. Others mail monthly or quarterly.


Recency might drive the response. A dollar select might increase the average order. Based on this knowledge, you might be able to recommend the segment. There are many variables to be considered. The more you know about the mailer and its needs, the better your ideas will come across. Once the broker provides this information, the list manager can then prepare a detailed recommendation for the broker to present to the mailer.


Knowing that the broker has to sell the manager's ideas to the mailers, the manager should always present his best test selects. It is the manager's responsibility to recommend a select that is targeted to meet the mailer's customer profile. For example, a three-month, $100-plus women's apparel buyer might be an obvious choice for an upscale apparel mailer.


Then again, if the list's average order is high enough, a dollar select might not be needed. It is the manager's responsibility to present rationale with each recommendation.


The manager should always include the universe count that is available in the recommended select. The universe should be substantial to allow for rollouts. Recommending a select with 5,000 names does not leave room for growth. That does not mean smaller lists should be overlooked. Smaller lists can be responsive and should be considered based on usage and reuse policies.


Another fact that needs to be obtained is update information - what names are currently available and when the list will update again.


The demographics of the file are also key factors. Include average age, household income and gender ratio. Ensure that the list's demographics are consistent with that of the mailer's target audience.


The next element to be provided is pertinent usage. Usage should relate to the mailer. For example, do not provide food mailers as usage on a list that you are recommending to an apparel mailer.


Successful list recommendations need sound reasoning for testing. The list manager needs to supply rationale for suggesting the list to the mailer, especially if it is a stretch. If you are recommending a gift list to an apparel mailer, ensure that the competition is already using the file.


The next thing a manager can do to get his ideas across is to offer special test incentives. The list manager should note if the list owner is offering any special incentives for test orders. This could be for out-of-category mailers, or even in-category mailers that have been reluctant to test a file in the past. Brokers receive daily promotions from all different sources, just like the mailers use many promotions to attract new customers.


The manager should also ensure that the broker has the most updated, pertinent tools to help sell the list to his mailer. This includes an updated data card and current catalog.


Once the recommendation has been presented to the broker, the list manager should follow up with a phone call to "sell" the recommendation. Sometimes it is necessary to discuss the rationale for a particular list to get the broker to recommend it to his client. The broker may need additional clarification for these ideas, and together you can fine-tune the segments that should be tested.


Partnership is the name of the game. An effective partnership between manager and broker will lead to a profitable relationship between list owner and mailer.


• Joanne Grampp is a vice president, list brokerage, and Bob Stein is a senior sales executive, list management, at Mokrynski & Associates Inc., Hackensack, NJ. Her e-mail address is jgrampp@mokrynski.com. His


e-mail address is bstein@mokrynski.com.
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