Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
January 19, 200911:00 PM

Renting Lists

In the old days of Marketing (sometime last year), you could get away with renting someone else's list. There are some who might argue that renting lists is still the way to go. Why don't people take the budget they were going to use to rent someone else's list and use it to build their own?

Are your customers really that close to you that they would not mind if you gave out their personal information to a third-party? Sure, you did everything above-board by allowing them to opt-in to being communicated with by a third-party, but does that still make it right? There is an argument that says if the consumer has given you their permission and you feel like the third-party has some kind of communication that they might find relevant, where's the harm? In fact, aren't you really providing a service to those consumers?

Renting a list is easy. Building a list is hard.

Renting a list is a short-term solution. Building a list is a long-term strategy. If something was easy and quick and had long-lasting effects, it would make perfect sense. If the process is simply a fleeting way to try and bump numbers without any real foundation for future growth or for building a relationship, it might be worth re-thinking whether it's a proper marketing strategy at all.

We had limited choices before. Now, the choices are endless.

If you could not afford a 30-second spot, you might try advertising in your local newspaper. If you didn't have a budget for that, you might try sending offers out to your existing client database. If that wasn't rich enough, you could ask someone with a similar business if you could send your message to their database. Now, we have online tools. We have everything from paid search and email to online social networks and Blogs. It's actually not all that hard to present yourself to potential consumers by providing value - it could be superior promotions or it could be the creation of unique content. However you slice it, there are countless new opportunities and channels to look at that will probably cost you the same (maybe even less) than if you rented someone else's database of email addresses.

There are many people who will think this is all wrong.

That's fine too. Why not start your own Blog to extol the virtues of buying, selling and renting third-party lists? Direct Marketing is still a huge and important part of the Marketing toolkit, and I'm wondering (out loud) what these newer deals looks like, how they work and how well they perform? Clearly, there is still a market for buying and renting lists of people. It may not be the sexiest kind of advertising, but there would not be so many businesses doing it if it were dead.

How do you feel about renting lists?

By Mitch Joel