Done correctly, direct mail works. There are many parts of successful direct mail campaign and weakness in any one area will affect the results, response and ROI of a campaign. But the area that seems to get the least attention is the list.
A small business owner may worry about a clever design or want to copy whatever his competitor sent out and send it to everyone in the city. That's his plan and the extent of his "marketing strategy". And then when the results suck, he complains and vows to "Never use direct mail again".
The list is one of the, if not THE most critical element of any direct marketing campaign. A lousy postcard sent to the perfect list could still work for you. But the perfect postcard sent to a lousy list will NEVER work.
So who you is your target market? And it can't be everyone. No doubt you have some customers that are better than others. Based on dollar volume or product mix, we all prefer some customers over others. Is there a database that matches a profile of your best customer?
Here are the basic steps in ordering a simple mailing list:
- Choose a database – The most common choices are:
- Consumers – Names and addresses based on demographics
- Businesses – Business names, addresses and decision makers
- Occupants – All addresses within a specific geographic area
- New Homeowners – Names and addresses of new homeowners during a specified time period
- New Movers – Names and addresses of new homeowners and renters
- Pick a geographic area – Narrow the data by:
- Zip code
- Radius around specific address
- Drill down to target – Filters are specific to each database.
- Household income
- Homeowner vs. Renter
- Home Market Value
- Length of Residence
- Credit Card User
- Mail Order Buyer
- Lifestyle Interests
- SIC Code
- Number of Employees
- Years in Business
- Home-Based Business
- New Homeowner
- Deed Recording Date
- Mortgage Amount
- Purchase Price
- Dwelling Type (Single-Family vs. Condo)
Choose any number of combinations to narrowly target your database. For example, in any geographic area, select "Homeowners, Age 40-65 with Household Income > $100,000.
- Get database count results
As you are filtering your list online, you will see revisions in your "number of leads" with each change you make. Depending on your choices, your list will grow or decrease. So if your count is too low, consider a larger geographic area or compromising on some of the restricting filters. For example, if you chose a filter based on Household Income > $100,000; drop down to $75,000 to get a higher count. But, do not sacrifice the quality of your list just to gain a higher count. So if $75,000 in Household Income would not be a quality prospect, find another filter to adjust.
- Purchase your list
Generally these types of basic lists found at InfoUSA will run about $0.055 per name for consumers. They will be a little higher for businesses. There usually is a minimum purchase amount. Highly targeted, specialized lists are also available at substantially higher prices. A publication called the Standard Rates and Data Service (SRDS) lists over 10,000 mailing lists of all shapes and sizes for rent.
So there you go. Go get online at a site like InfoUSA (or many others). Plug and play with the criteria you need and the filters you want until you get a list count comfortable for your campaign.
Caution: Don't go out and purchase a 5000 to 15,000 name list and mail a direct mail piece to the entire list without testing. But that's another subject for another day.
Now go play.
Advantage Printing is a commercial print & marketing services provider serving small and mid-sized businesses, nonprofits and churches.
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