List Professionals Remain Positive About Upcoming Season, Conference

While many list firms are tightening their belts to maximize revenue during these uncertain economic times, several list professionals are optimistic about what's ahead.

“We did see a pickup in mid-July, and there is some optimism that hopefully we hit the bottom in June and that things are starting to pick up with late fall and holiday orders,” said Linda Thompson, director of catalog list management at Millard Group Inc., Peterborough, NH.

Even so, early fall response rates have been mixed, Thompson said.

With that in mind, list firms certainly are continuing with the cost-cutting and promotional measures instituted over the past few months.

Direct Media Inc., for example, is offering a risk-free testing program on roughly 900 of DMI's managed list properties through Aug. 31. And several other list firms, including Millard and American List Counsel, are reducing pricing on some managed files as incentives for mailers to test.

Thompson also encourages list owners to add selections and be flexible about giving price breaks on their files to stimulate usage.

Meanwhile, at least one list management firm has been able to offset mailer cutbacks with new business.

“Our business is pretty busy right now,” said John Papalia, president of Statlistics Inc., Danbury, CT. “We've had some growth in the new business area that has balanced some drops in client circulation.”

Travel is a common target for list firms looking to reduce expenses.

“In general, a lot of companies are cutting back travel budgets,” said Lori Collins, manager of business development at Focus USA, Hackensack, NJ.

Thompson agreed, saying that Millard has kept careful watch over travel expenses and has tried to limit unnecessary travel.

Still, most list professionals agree that client meetings and industry events are very important.

With that in mind, many will attend the Direct Marketing Association's List Vision 2001 conference at the Grand Hyatt in New York on Aug. 9.

Although the event is not heavily attended by mailers, more than 50 list-focused firms will exhibit.

“We're there to promote our clients' files whether they attend or not,” said Pamela Mulligan, vice president of list management at List Technology Systems Group Inc., New York.

The majority of exhibitors at List Vision are based in the New York area.

It is unclear whether Collin's firm would attend if it were located outside the New York region, she said.

Regardless, local list professionals said the show had been good for them in the past.

“All it takes is one good meeting or introduction to make it worthwhile,” said Joseph Frick, marketing manager at Adrea Rubin Management Inc., New York. “From a list management standpoint, there will be some brokers who show up that we might not normally get to see.”

In addition, at least one list professional said List Vision is returning to the way he remembers it in years past, when it was called List Day.

“You used to go away from it, maybe not with anything in your pocket, but with a lot of ideas and contacts,” Papalia said. “It kind of died out for a while, but I see it returning to that networking community that it used to be.”

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