It's the list!
By now, most marketers have realized that in the post-brand, post-tv world, permission (the privilege of marketing to the people who want to hear from you) matters more than just about anything.
Exhibit A: Eziba.com sent a catalog to their worst customers instead of their best ones. Big mistake. They shut down. (but perhaps will be reborn). Link: The New York Times > Technology > After Catalog Blunder, Eziba.com Suspends Business.
Exhibit B: This piece of junk mail from BMW arrived today. The punchline? I don't have a BMW and I have never had one! The astonishing thing is that the cheapest, easiest, most reliable mailing lists in the world are government registries of motor vehicles, usually c/o Ward's or some other company.
1. roll your own. Don't buy, rent or sell lists. Build them with people who want to hear from you.
2. anticipated, personal and relevant messages always outperform.