Saving Money on List Buying Is Expensive

My grandmother died weeks shy of her 80th birthday in 1995.   I still miss her very much and easily reminisce about her expressive face, her voice, the lessons she taught her oldest grandchild. But at least two list brokers are determined not to let me forget her in my daily routine.  They’ve decided that her 95th birthday is this fall and that she lives with me.

As anyone knows when dealing with direct mail and a deceased family member, there are alternatives for getting the databases squared away, but it’s a long, tiring battle.  And on the web, nothing ever “quite” goes away. All of the people search engines you can likely think of and some you can’t:  Pipl, Spokeo, Zaba Search, Intelius — all have her at my wife’ s age or my age at my home address.  On the same page you often find her entry in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).

The great CTOs I worked with would never tolerate buying a list this dirty. List vendors know that too, which is why they often sell, not rent, garbage lists to small businesses.   These lists haven’t received their first data scrubbing.  Indeed, if they did, there would be fewer names and the company preying on small businesses would find itself with a much smaller list that is almost always priced based on quantity of names. Some of the companies named above actually are selling background data and their data is accurate.  Others just continue churning names.

Outside of Chicago political lore and Mamet’s Glengarry Glenn Ross, these are the folks who rework the names until a shell-shocked household finally turns away all marketing messages. Your takeaway as a small business leader is that most people don’t know about list rentals and purchases.   You may.  I do.  But even those who know often don’t differentiate beyond the very reputable companies and the ones just building lists of names. Because of that lack of knowledge, your business will be blamed if you buy a poor quality list and don’t use your own data cleansing processes.  This is one instance where you must buy premium or risk big brand damage. And folks, if you were going to tell my grandmother she looked years younger, couldn’t you have done it when she was alive so she could have had a smile?

My grandmother and friends in 1936. Small business owners, don’t buy her name on a list today. This was 74 years ago

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