Web Opens Data Partnership Opportunities

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Think for a moment about lists and marketing databases as you think of airline tickets, which are available from various sources, including the airlines themselves, travel agencies, consolidators and from Web sites such as Travelocity and Expedia.


Using Travelocity as an example, customers log on and search for dates and fares from any number of airlines. They can customize their trips. When they are satisfied, they click the "buy" button and make their purchases online.


Now imagine a list and marketing data Web site or sites that are set up like Travelocity or Expedia. It could be your existing data provider's site or, if you are in the list industry, it could be your own. But instead of just the databases that you or your data supplier manages, brokers or sells, the site features other companies' database files for sale.


This scenario almost sounds fictitious -- especially in the list industry, which has been relatively slow to embrace the online world as a means of distributing its products to customers and to each other. But these types of online partnerships or data sharing programs are happening now and are proving to be beneficial for all parties in list transactions, from brokers to compilers, managers and list owners, salespeople to customers.


How does it work? For example, a large list manager and brokerage firm immediately saw the benefits of taking the file it licensed from a large compiler into an online sales environment. Its sales folks spent most of their time handling count and order requests via telephone, fax and sometimes e-mail. The selling day was filled with running counts and orders instead of selling and adding value to its customers with list recommendations.


Now, with the online solution the list manager's regular customers are going online and placing their own counts and orders. Customers are happier because it takes them less time than it did to pick up the phone or send something through the fax machine. The salespeople are happier because their days have been freed up and they can really work on consulting with customers. The list management firm also has added additional benefits for those customers to go online, like lower minimums and competitive pricing, so existing customers are even happier.


Interestingly, the list manager's brokers are also using the site because it is faster and easier to use than the old process of calling the information technology department or an external service bureau for the counts and orders they are still running.


Partnering with the so-called competition. Here is another example with a different slant: Two national compilers and managers of different types of consumer, business and response data both have online list sales Web sites where customers can run queries and order data. But at first they sell only their own data in this Web environment. Both have little duplication in their customer bases and decide to create a partnership and make each other's databases available on their sites.


Each company's clients now have more database choices, some they may not even have known about, so the customer wins. And both site owners win in the list owner and manager arena because they have just extended their distribution to new customers -- and more royalty revenues. Both site owners produce a usage royalty report for each other on their own online system and both sides benefit financially.


Once you sell your own or your licensed data and list information on the Web, it is easy to allow like-minded companies to re-brand or even franchise it to their own customer base.


Besides making it easy, the Web has opened new partnering channels that the list industry has never had. The partnership permutations are endless. It just depends on how creative you want to be in increasing your distribution channel without extra cost.


Just like Travelocity, you do not have to own all or any of the merchandise -- in this case the data -- you are selling. You just have to provide a handy portal through which your clients can access it.


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