The Economic Challenge: List marketing in a tough economy

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As budgets for mailers, marketers and consumers tighten, there is a growing need to provide targeted value to consumers and cut down on campaign overhead such as postal expenses. List experts Roy Schwedelson, CEO of Worldata, and Mark Traverso, VP of sales, new business development and e-commerce at Lighthouse List Co., advise marketers on how to navigate uncertain times successfully without sacrificing consumer engagement.

Below are some tips to help list marketers stay viable in a tough market.

Stick to your “meat and potato” market

“You can't get exotic in a bad economy. Go with your primary lists that have stayed true to you,” Schwedelson advises. “The lists you should use are ones you can count on, and even some of those may be changing because of the economy, so there may be some fall off there as well,”

Embrace digital

You're going to have to test new channels, such as getting postal names from the Internet, Schwedelson points out. “Buying habits have changed – people are shopping for value online to save gas and money and avoid bad weather,” he says. “Their channel of direct marketing has changed drastically.”  In addition, sticking only to direct mail doesn't work in a tough economy, Traverso says, since printing and postage are expensive. “It's a lot cheaper to send a text message or e-mail than to send a printed envelope with postage,” he explains.

Take a multichannel approach

There is a benefit to not just using a mailing list by itself, says Traverso. “We make sure a lot of our lists are multichannel targeted, where they can be targeted through direct mail, e-mail, or through a cell phone – so we're offering marketers ways of reaching prospects that weren't readily available a few years ago.” Many marketers now include a text message code to send back if the consumer doesn't want to call or go online, he adds.

Don't slash your budget

Successful marketers will continue marketing through tough times because they know the economy will eventually change for the better. “Market to the steady-eddies who continue to purchase through a bad economy,” says Schwedelson. “If you can hold your budget, use it – you just have to be smarter. If you're a tech mailer you should be mailing hardcore technology lists. If you're a golf magazine, mail the golf lists – don't go after travelers who may play golf. The key is common sense marketing right now – this is not the time to throw ideas against the wall to see if they stick.”

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