Best For All business types
Objective Generate traffic, increase sales, stimulate trial
Target New customers
You can use an inexpensive technique that many big marketing companies employ to find the most likely audience for your product or service: public lists of things like real estate transfers and new business filings, trade association lists, and lists you swap or barter for with other businesses in your neighborhood.
A young man I know of had worked for several years for a unit of a national chain of sign shops. He finally had learned enough to feel competent at his trade, and he had grown tired enough of working for someone else to go into business for himself. He knew from studying the store he worked in that the customers who needed signs most frequently were new businesses and, in this fast-growing suburb, the construction industry. He also knew that there were five other sign shops in the area that he would have to compete with, not including his previous employer.
He contacted the state corporations department and got a list of all the new incorporations that had been filed in the past year. He sorted the list to pull out those that were in his trading area and sent them all a mailing offering his services. New companies need new signs.
He also contacted the local building trades association, got its mailing list for a reasonable fee, and sent a different mailing, offering quick turnaround for the signage these firms use to mark and announce new projects. In a couple of months he had more business than he could handle.
If you are marketing to high-end customers, you can obtain lists of owners of large parcels of real estate from your county deeds office. The IRS maintains lists of nonprofit organizations. Every licensed physician is on a list. There are many services online that maintain corporate records that you can sort by state and zip code. Bar associations maintain lists of lawyers. Many states have professional regulatory agencies that keep lists of all practitioners in each field, from psychology to pest control.
If you want to target people who are politically motivated, you’ll find complete lists of donors to specific political campaigns, often online. Join your chamber of commerce and you’ll automatically get access to its mailing list. Membership can cost as little as $150. Check out trade associations. Look in your Yellow Pages under “list brokers” and “mailing services” to see what they have to offer that’s within your budget. Your community newspapers and magazines also make their lists available for a fee.
Make sure you know your target market, which you researched by doing the customer survey. And think creatively. If you are a dentist, why not do a mailing to all your local doctors offering them special hours on Sunday when they aren’t so busy at the hospital?