Simple Marketing Monday – Cheap, Targeted Mailing Lists

Cheap, Targeted Mailing Lists
Cheap, Targeted Mailing Lists

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?



Direct Mail Printing

Why Direct Mail?

With all the choices marketers have today, why is direct mail a good option? In many situations, direct mail gives you more ‘bang for the buck’. The return on investment (ROI) of direct mail, done properly, is significant. According to the Direct Marketing Association report The Power of Direct Marketing: ROI, Sales, Expenditures and Employment in the Us, “Each dollar spent on direct marketing yields, on average, a return on investment of $11.69, versus ROI of $5.24 from non-direct marketing expenditures.” This is a statistic that can’t be ignored. Depending on the opportunity, how it is handled and the client expectations, it would be difficult to understand aversion to this kind of a return on the dollars spent for this type of advertising. Of course there are many things to be considered.

Not every marketing opportunity is the same, and not every direct marketing campaign will yield the same results. It is certainly true, however, that direct marketing in the form of direct mail lends itself to significant, predictable and measurable results. The process of combining direct mail with other channels amplifies the potential lift of a well-planned campaign. The addition of e-mail, personalized URLs and personalized landing pages to direct mail will ‘lift’ the results, but it is in fact the usage of direct marketing that lays the groundwork and provides the vast majority of the ROI in multi-channel campaigns.

The “40-40-20” Rule

According to USADATA, 40% of a campaign’s effectiveness depends on the list. It’s the ‘Right Person’ part of the equation. Think about it: If you are addressing the wrong prospects, nothing else really matters … your campaign is doomed. The offer and the creative must be right to maximize the opportunity, but no amount of pretty pictures will really help you sell snowblowers to people who live in the desert. So how do you get the message to the right people? If you are looking for new clients, you need new data, and for direct mail the data is the list. The list is the key, the 40%. Just as with the offer and the creative, you need the best possible list. The sales leads and lists you acquire should have the freshest and most accurate data available for the opportunity

The list should be highly focused on the correct target audience, and of course usage must comply with all regulations on privacy, not just to ensure that you are not breaking laws, or industry standards, but because your prospects are increasingly aware of and concerned about appropriate and respectful use of information.

What Makes a Good List?


Although this would seem to be obvious, for direct mail campaigns to achieve success, the document must get to the intended recipient. It must be deliverable, and correct addresses are the key. Outdated, inaccurate lists increase production costs, postage costs, reduce the overall ROI and worst of all, waste the opportunity. In best-case scenarios you should expect that 92% to 96% of the addresses are ‘good’. And don’t forget, lists with correct addresses degrade with time as people move or their situation changes.

Accuracy of Demographics

Lists should be compiled from multiple sources of data with cross-verification to provide the best results. Although you can buy lists from any number of sources, you want to be sure that the supplier of lists you contract with maintains proven and reliable methodology in their collection of information. And, as with deliverability, the accuracy of the list regarding demographics requires timely collection and usage of the data.

Who is the Target?

According to USADATA, the most popular base categories include:

  • Consumer (including demographics, lifestyle and life stage)
  • Business (including key executives)
  • Resident / Occupant (for saturation postal rates)
  • New Mover / New Homeowner / New Mortgage o Specialty (e.g. New Businesses, Canadian, Educator)

Of course, these are major classifications that begin the ‘narrowing down’ process. What other characteristics might make a recipient a better target? What are the things about the product, service or message that would appeal to a particular group or audience? Your list provider should be able to consult with you and your client to find these answers.