Book of Lists Still Valuable in the Age of Jigsaw, Zoominfo and InsideView?

I received an email today announcing the availability of the Puget Sound Book of Lists (American City Business Journals). Every major city probably has one of these publications available in print, CD or download format.  It was not too long ago that this was my most significant source of customer and prospect data for my location in Seattle.  I would go through every page, yellow highlighter in hand, and develop my sales focus for the year.  Did you ever do the same?

What struck me when the email arrived this afternoon, was my reaction – – “who cares?”  Printed version at $65.00 here in Seattle! CD is available for only $169.95.  I used to write that check so fast the ink would hardly dry.  What used to be critical to me has now become irrelevant.  What about you?

I know the sales climate has been challenging for many of you, but think about the plethora of WebTools that are now at your fingertips.  Jigsaw will provide most any phone number and Email address for anyone that would want to contact.  ZoomInfo will provide missing details about the background of the contact, their work history and much more.  InsideView will give you more information about the company, it’s executives, business strategy, financials and performance than many Annual Reports.  All available to you from your desk and mouse.

The question for you to consider and answer honestly is:

“Are you taking advantage of all of these tools and the power that they possess to inform and educate about the hidden needs of your prospects and customers?”

If the answer is no, why not?  Why not take advantage of the tremendous capabilities that these tools offer you?  How much is the lack of sales results due to the economy and how much is due to your lack of learning new tools and techniques in your profession.  Are you using this new generation of WebTools to increase your sales results?  If not, what is holding you back?  I would love to hear your thoughts on these questions.

  • Tjhis is a great, thought-provoking post. And really, I suspect you could answer some burning questions that I have on this subject. I am the sales manager for a company that is VERY close to the topic of Book of Lists. My company is DataJoe LLC, (www.datajoe.com) and my clients are business journals who create a Book of Lists product. DataJoe works with about 60-odd business journals across the Unites States. All of these journals sell a book of lists product, similar to the one you have pictured above, in print and digital format. They sell to an audience of sales professionals, job seekers, and marketers, like yourself. But sometimes I deeply suspect that neither they nor I really have a handle on what, if anything, could be done to provide the maximum value to their consumers. Hearing you say that book of lists has become irrelevant energizes me to ask the question: are there any saving graces, or is this product headed into prehistory?

    I have book of lists on the brain, so I like to think that I understand the strengths and weaknesses of this product, when held against products like Jigsaw, Zoominfo, etc. Book of Lists will NEVER have the coverage that a database like Zooominfo has, by its very nature and definition — BOL is always a snapshot of the “best of the best” in a region; a yearbook of the movers and shakers only. Not a comprehensive catalog.

    I’d like to think that a great strength of this product is that it is a unique, intensely local view of business from the street level – these business journals are on the phone with participating businesses, drawing out the information through primary research, right up until the final deadline before the list publishers. You really can’t get a fresher, more steaming pile of data than that, can you? And in addition, they are asking for (and getting) primary data form private companies that the companies are not incentivized to give to anyone else. They only give it to the business journals because they don’t want to be left off of a list that will add prestige the their brand. What I have always liked about book of lists data is that it is sourced organically. Is it all about contact info, or have you ever found the deeper data in BOL to be useful?

    Now on to my deeper question: I see the book of lists evolving in some markets. You have people like Crain’s Chicago Business creating digital-only “job seekers” editions, customized with all the data you’d need to be more efficient in the job search. You’ve got American Cities Business Journals teaming up with NetProspex (somewhat similar to Jigsaw), in order to bring the best of both worlds — the coverage of a national database with the hyper-locality and currency of the book of lists.

    So is there still a place for book of lists? What distinguishes book of lists from a database like Jigsaw — and are any of these characteristics worth capitalizing on? What do business publishers need to do to resurrect this product from “irrelevance” in the modern day?

    If you take a look at http://www.datajoe.com, you’ll see we are actually aggregating Book of Lists from across the country in a one-stop-shop. The idea is to enable publishers to collaborate and pool their data in creative ways, in order to become relevant to a wider audience. Please let me know what you think.

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