What is a List Broker

Every business owner, big or small, should know the importance of direct marketing. Marketing directly to a certain group of consumers or businesses is extremely effective. The key is to find the right list of consumers or businesses to market to. Having the right list means the difference between a successful direct marketing campaign and a disappointing one.

But how can you be sure of buying the right list? There are so many different kinds of lists out there; where does one start? If you find a bunch of lists yourself that all look the same, how can you distinguish which list is right? How do you know if the list will meet your needs or if the list manager is reputable? That's why many business owners choose to work with independent list brokers.

If you're already working directly with a list company, you may be reluctant to consider a broker. But remember that the list company’s sales people only represent their own lists, and although you may have a great relationship, their job is to keep you from purchasing lists they don’t represent. There could be alternatives that they can’t or won’t suggest because their company simply doesn’t offer them.

On the other hand, a list broker is someone who acts as a go between for businesses and the list owner/managers. Once you contact a list broker and let them know what you need, they will search and find the best lists for your consideration. They should know what the product you’re promoting is and who you want to reach and how you want to reach them, what geography you want to target, your budget and your time frame, etc. In order to suggest the best possible lists for your direct marketing campaign, the list broker should have a complete understanding of your needs.

Brokers typically have access to tens of thousands of direct marketing lists, and can quickly find several list options for you to consider. Remember, you do not have to pay for the services of a list broker; the broker will share their knowledge free of charge with the expectation you will order your lists through them. A good broker will try to educate you whether you decide to buy from them or not.

A veteran list broker with years of experience will know the list industry inside and out, and should be able to guide you away from lists you should avoid. They will offer you more list choices than you would be able to find yourself, they ask the list managers the questions that you wouldn’t know to ask such as: when was the list last updated, how often is it updated, where does the info come from, what the accuracy guarantee.

Sometimes their creativity can result in recommending list alternatives you never knew existed. A list broker knows the procedures and processes of the various companies that offer direct marketing lists, and can streamline the time-consuming list acquisition process (ordering, tracking, shipping, billing, etc.)

If you are not sure which list broker to contact, check with other business connections to see who they are using. And don’t be afraid to ask for references. A good list broker should have a solid reputation in the industry with hundreds of regular customers. If you hear good things about one particular list broker from lots of different people, look up him or her. There's nothing like good old fashioned word of mouth referral.
Finding a good list broker is an important part of a successful direct marketing campaign. Cultivating a long-term relationship with a list broker can be a valuable use of time and marketing dollars.