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List competitors work together

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While the information technology industry continues to take a financial beating with no relief in sight, IT publisher International Data Group has formed an unusual list-marketing strategy to combine online and offline data by linking up with competitor American List Counsel.

IT marketers such as Dell Computer Corp., IBM Corp. and Micro Warehouse Inc. and direct response marketers such as Learning Tree International will now have access to a vast roster of potential buyers in one common list file. The deal links IDG’s list, which contains 1.2 million proprietary e-mail addresses, with the corresponding names in ALC’s postal files.

"We look at every way we can to create revenue opportunities," said Deb Goldstein, president of Boston-based IDG List Services.

Unprecedented move

The two companies will manage different pieces of the combined data file, a move unprecedented on this scale in the list management business.

"It’s a tough environment right now, whether business-to-business or business-to-consumer," Goldstein said. "The human race is very distracted right now, and you have to find ways to bring them into the buying mode."

The rising popularity of media integration and multichannel marketing helped give the companies the urge to merge their e-mail and postal assets.

"This is a time when you have to integrate all levels of media to create more power to sell your product," Goldstein said.

That integration will be an advantage to clients, she said, because it combines the strength of IDG’s list of IT professionals, derived from its publications and industry events, with ALC’s b-to-b mailers in the seminar, publishing, service and supply industries.

"We certainly want to encourage people to use both channels to target customers, and both companies stand to benefit from the relationship," said Missy Root, VP-data management for Princeton, N.J.-based ALC.

Clients will have the flexibility to rent names through either company at $275 per thousand from the e-mail list and $140 per thousand from the postal database. IDG and ALC intend to continue to bill clients separately, but the two companies said they will manage parts of the same file and work together to coordinate production and make the process seamless. They will continue to maintain separate list products independent of the merged file.

‘No-lose situation’

If the two companies can deliver on the venture’s promise, "it’s a no-lose situation," said Bob Castle, president of Bob Castle Associates, a New York-based list management consultancy.

Castle cautioned that this type of partnership is "unknown territory," but added that the only potential downside could be hard feelings from a management standpoint. For instance, if a mutual client chooses ALC over IDG as its primary contact, there might be issues of control concerning who drives the relationship with the marketer.

The two companies have a long history of working together. ALC has been list manager for the postal portion of IDG’s corporate database for more than 15 years. "They’ve been a very trusted partner on the postal side," Goldstein said.

IDG stresses in its advertising the concept of integrated postal and e-mail address lists because the overwhelming majority (90%) of the postal lists for each of its publications and events now include permission-based e-mail addresses. The new list, which combines e-mail addresses from all of those sources, will give IDG another product to add to its arsenal and the opportunity to expand its reach to ALC’s significant universe of clients.

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