When the Census Bureau needs help tracking down Americans in hard-to-find places, it turns to official list suppliers like Dunhill International List Co. Inc.
“It ain't easy. How do you find someone that lives in jail?'' asked Bob Dunhill, president of the list compiler and broker. “There are all sorts of little out-of-the-way places survey people can't get to, people that can't be reached by mail or don't have a phone. The Census wants to reach people that can't be counted in traditional fashion. We provide them with lists of nontraditional residences.''
For two decades, Dunhill, Boca Raton, FL, has supplied lists of trailer parks, marinas, racetracks (jockeys and groomers live at the track), hunting lodges, camps, retirement and nursing homes, long-term-care facilities, hospices, hospitals and various other places that people call home. As a contractor to the federal government, Dunhill provides the Census Bureau with lists of 50,000 sites.
“The government has 180,000 suppliers and contractors. We are one of a very limited number of firms that supply lists,'' Dunhill said.
Dunhill supplies lists to the Government Printing Office, the Departments of Education and Agriculture, the General Services Administration, the Corps of Engineers and the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census.
The government uses private contractors that fit its purchasing schedule on a trial basis. Once the government uses a service, that contractor can request to be placed on the permanent purchasing schedule.
The last Census missed 10 million households and 6 million were counted twice, according to The New York Times. Although companies like his can help the Census improve its reach, Dunhill said, it's essential that the Census do more.
He — and many other direct marketers — would like to see the Census taken every five years instead of every 10 to keep the data current. He also supports keeping the long-form questionnaire.
The Census is by far the largest supplier of the demographic and psychographic information essential for direct marketing campaigns. Changing to a shorter list of Census questions would deprive marketers of their lifeblood, Dunhill said.
“All will suffer if the Census doesn't supply this information,'' he said. “The largest list suppliers, Polk, Experian and Metromail, would be hard pressed to supply that information in the future. If [mailers] can't get anything from the Census, they will have to rely on data from these companies. These databanks just aren't large enough.''
Dunhill urged all direct marketers to act.
“What is the DMA doing? Every major mailer in this country should contact their congressman,” he said. “There should be a surge of mail, an avalanche of mail explaining the need [to keep the long form]. It's vital to the marketing efforts of everyone.''