Direct marketing pros will know this, but did you know that pretty much anytime you buy something through a catalog (and most of the time online as well), your name goes into a database to be bought and sold by more marketers?

In fact, many mail-order merchants make a fair amount of money renting their database.  Perhaps some make even more from list rentals than by selling actual products?

For example, even the Vermont Teddy Bear company rents its list of customers.  For just $0.10 per name, you can send them pretty much whatever you want.

vermont teddy bear mailing list

Questions to Discuss:

  1. When privacy is such a huge deal online, and people get all worked up over getting one spammy email, should we have different standards for junk mail?
  2. Should mail order catalogs require a proactive "opt-in" to rent your name to other companies?
  3. Why is there such a difference in how people feel about postal mail as compared to email? 
  4. Should there be a national "do not mail" list?

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Originally published Jun 4, 2009 3:27:00 PM, updated October 01 2019