How to Find the Best Mailing List for Your Offer
by Bob Leduc
You may have a great product and a great offer. But if you mail it to the wrong list you won't get the kind of return you should. To boost your success with direct mail, find out how to choose the right list for your market and your offer.
During the past 30 years I've bought or compiled thousands of mailing lists. Eventually I learned how to find lists that always produced highly profitable results. You'll discover how I do it in this article.
Who Should Be on Your List?
Implementing any successful mailing program begins by determining who will get your mail. You need to find or compile a mailing list of qualified prospects for your offer. The success of your mailing is directly dependent on the accuracy of your mailing list in targeting prospects most likely to be interested in your product or service.
For example, an offer for information about a quick, easy way to lose weight would get a big response if it were sent to a "targeted" list of subscribers to a weight loss newsletter. But, send the same offer to your local Chamber of Commerce list and you would probably get only a few responses. Your offer would not be relevant to most people on the Chamber of Commerce list and most of your mailing budget would be wasted. Remember, you must target prospects likely to be interested in your offer.
The lack of serious attention to selecting a mailing list can doom your mailing campaign to failure. Poor list choice often occurs because the decision seemed so obvious, it was done quickly and with little serious thought. I developed a simple procedure I always follow to be sure I select the best list for my offer. I use this procedure even when the list selection seems obvious. It usually enables me to create and implement a mailing with profitable results on the first try. Here's what I do...
A Simple Procedure
I begin my search for the best list by defining the person I want to reach. Starting with a blank sheet of paper, I list all of the characteristics I can expect qualified, interested prospects for my offer to have. If I'm working in an established market, I write down the names of some of my best customers in that market. Then I write down the characteristics they have that make my product or service valuable to them.
Once I develop this list of characteristics, I make a list of actions and activities these ideal target prospects pursue that might be recorded in some way. For example:
What associations or clubs would they join? (Many association or club membership rosters are available to the general public. If not, you can get it from one of the members.)
What licenses would they be required to have? (All licenses except driving licenses and auto registrations are public information you can get at your city, county or state licensing offices.)
What publications are they likely to subscribe to? (Most publications rent their subscriber list to other mailers.)
What products or services are they likely to buy? (Many companies are willing to share their customer list with other non-competing businesses who are willing to share a customer list in return.)
What About List Brokers?
Take time to think about ways you can find or compile the ideal list without getting it from a list broker. You'll not only save money, you'll also have a list your competitors will probably never find. By avoiding a list broker, you may also enjoy the advantage of a list that is not being used by other mailers. Heavily worked lists tend to be unresponsive, even when they are highly targeted. By finding or compiling your own list, you'll have a list that is not heavily used by other mailers and your potential for a high response is maximized. You'll also have a list you can re-use as often as you want without paying another rental fee. Most list brokers charge an additional fee each time you use their list.
If you decide to get your list through a list broker, the simple procedure I described above will enable you to tell the broker exactly what you want.
Unless you already work with a trusted list broker who has proven his or her list selection skill to you in the past, call several brokers with your requirements and have each of them give you their recommendations. Then, be careful not to make your final decision based solely on the cost of a list. Whenever I thought the cost of a list was expensive, it nearly always produced a profitable high rate of response. Lists I thought were bargains nearly always produced an unprofitable low rate of response. I've learned that the cost of a list is not important when it contains people who have the exact qualifications I need.
Finding the right mailing list is not difficult when you follow this system. It enables you to quickly maximize profits from your mail while avoiding expensive, time consuming trial and error tests.
Copyright Bob Leduc