List Management

More and more print buyers are beginning to realize the potential of direct mail in conjunction with digital media, as well as the power of variable data printing.  Much of that has to do with a variety of awareness campaigns created by the industry manufacturers (Xerox, HP, Canon, etc.) as well as print providers who are realizing the necessity to sell the value of print rather than the technology of print.  Yet, there’s one facet of all of this that is probably not being addressed as it should be — list management, both in terms of postal issues as well as content.

In a member presentation this past Tuesday, Ronnie Ewers with EQ3 touched on a variety of issues on the postal front which can cost firms significant dollars.  How significant?  He used the example of a very large mailing client whose savings in postage was in seven figures.  How were the savings gained?  It took sophisticated list scrubbing and an understanding that the USPS system is not perfect in handling NCOA (National Change of Address).  It’s not uncommon for many lists to have 8-14% incorrect addressees in a database.

The other issue of course is content. Are data fields being used properly and are they usable in variable projects.  Too often variable print projects never come to fruition because the client’s data is not functional – and opportunities are missed for the client and the print provider.

Everyone talks about Big Data and the business opportunities to target message an audience.  Although if the data is not usable, for whatever reasons, the promise of Big Data is a pipe dream, but I see  glimmers of opportunity.

Why aren’t most print/mail providers working with their client to maximize the power of the data?  One of the major problems might be that the client doesn’t understand there are issues.  It could be that marketing won’t talk to I.T. and I.T. “knows” what they’re doing, and resolving the issue will take senior management’s involvement.  Thus this becomes an issue of “consulting” rather than selling a product.  It does require a different mind-set and possibly individuals with different sets of skills – but the upside could be extraordinary.

Think back to the 1960’s and 70’s.  Who ever thought that folks would want to “rent” computer time and outsource those activities?  IBM didn’t see it as part of their business strategy, but a guy by the name of Ross Perot did.

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