The Quest for Better Datacards

By Leland R. Kroll

Consider this scenario: A potential new car buyer walks into a dealership and requests a brochure on a current vehicle, but the salesman only has a brochure for last year's model. Of course, the "old" information doesn't quite satisfy the consumer. Who wants to read about last year's model?

Or imagine you are looking at online Multiple Listing Service listings for a home or apartment. Many listings today offer "virtual" video tours and also host an assortment of high quality photographs, provide room dimensions, tax information and all sorts of valuable data about the home to entice and educate the buyer. So why is it that some listing agents don't include any of these informative sales tools on their real estate listings and still think that they will generate interest and sell the home to a prospective buyer?

Unfortunately, these two scenarios aren't too far from what professional list brokers experience on a daily basis when conducting research for their clients.

Let's all agree that the datacard is still the most effective sales tool that list owners and managers utilize to promote their mailing lists and direct marketing services to list brokers and mailers. So why is it that the quality of so many of them is lacking?

The vast majority of list brokers utilize the online SRDS, mIn or Nextmark datacard systems. It is the list manager's responsibility to provide the most descriptive, sales enticing information that should certainly include all selections available, (with their respective counts), presented on each datacard.

The datacard writing and update process should be a "top-down" task, not a "bottom-up" task. It takes "real" industry leaders to demand higher quality datacards to be created and maintained. Surprisingly, there are some list management companies that intentionally leave critical information off their datacards, and believe that if a broker needs additional information that they will call the list manage, so the manager will have an opportunity to upsell or cross-sell the broker. The reality is that today, the broker doesn't have time to play that game and needs vital information at their fingertips without having to make multiple requests for basic information that should already be provided.

It is also very frustrating when a broker reviews a datacard only to find that there are a significant number of excellent selections offered, but no quantities listed. The broker has no idea of whether or not that particular mailing list will ultimately provide enough records for the client's specific parameters or meet the minimum order quantity.

Sure, it takes more time and resources upfront from the list manager and list owner to create a top-quality "sales tool." The end result will be a more satisfied and engaged list broker who will be able to present a datacard to their client that satisfies their need and ultimate buying decision to rent the data. There have never been so many excellent mailing list choices and multi-channel marketing solutions for a direct marketer to make, let's not continue to shoot ourselves in the foot by allowing inferior datacards to exist.

We can all be "list leaders" by elevating the quality of the products we represent, recommend and utilize on a daily basis.

Leland R. Kroll [] is president of Kroll Direct Marketing, Plainsboro, NJ.

This article was published by DIRECT Magazine, May 2009. (

DIRECT Magazine January 2009

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