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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The ABCs of Direct Marketing

By Peter "the Printer" Lineal

How to Select Your Prospecting Mailing List

We hear it again and again in the printing industry: We need to mail every month without fail if we want our business to thrive. Almost all of the big, successful printers have ongoing direct mail campaigns. And there are many newsletter services that offer their creativity to you at a fraction of the cost of you doing the conceptualizing, writing, and art yourself. All it takes is the desire and a good mailing list of prospects.

Your existing and past clients are your number one prospects to sell more products and/or services. Past quotations also are a valid source of list building. But to get things rolling, you can either build your own list from street address directories, chamber of commerce lists, yellow pages, etc., or opt to buy a list from a professional list broker. The benefits of choosing a list broker are having the most accurate mailing list information available, being able to curtail your list to include the most fruitful prospects, and convenient and fast delivery.

Pinpoint Your Target

Once you've decided to use direct mail as part of your total promotional plan, you'll need to select an appropriate mailing list. Pinpoint your target audience as precisely as you can before you begin the mailing list search process. Do you want to reach businesses, consumers, or every mailbox in the neighborhood of your store or business? Do you need names only or will just the addresses do; do you need titles of those in business; could you use telephone numbers for follow-up calls? Other available and very useful information includes level of sales, years in business, number of employees, credit worthiness, and much more. Do you want the list sorted by zip code, city, county, business size, or some combination of these criteria?

The value of direct mail marketing lies in its ability to connect you directly with the audience most receptive to your message. Imagine a room filled with your ten best clients, and ask yourself: do these ten clients overwhelming come from certain industries? Are they mostly women? Do they have similar lifestyles or economic situations? Are they mostly apartment dwellers? A well-designed mailing list serves as a doorway into this room, allowing you to tell these likely clients about your services or products.

Never Buy, Only Rent

You never buy a mailing list. You only rent it. You can rent a list for one-time use or multiple-use (more than one mailing in a 12-month period). If you want to mail only one piece to each name, then one time is enough. But more often than not you'll want to re-mail to the same names and need multiple-use rental. Renting the list for multiple mailings allows you to selectively mail to prospects and track response for future re-mail and phone follow-up. Of course, once a prospect has responded to your mailing, he is "yours" to keep and develop.

Evaluate All Costs

Be sure to get an accurate idea of all the charges involved with a mailing. Cost per thousand, sorting charges, media charges, data conversion charges, labeling costs, etc. Only then can you accurately determine the total cost of your promotional piece by adding, printing, stuffing, folding, metering or stamping, paper stock, labor, in-house management, etc. Peter's Business and Consumer Mailing Lists include a handful of the most popular selects free of charge, but when many additional selects are included on very large lists, the cost per name can add up fast.

Consider Alternatives to Buying New Consumer or Business Mailing Lists

Examine your needs: would you consider sending your mail piece to every address in a neighborhood? Though not as focused as a carefully crafted consumer or business mailing list, neighborhood lists can be a very cost effective means to get your message out. The cost per address is considerably less than in other mailing lists, and by coordinating with mail carrier routes the United States Post Office offers a considerable rebate in postage, potentially saving you big bucks. Its not for every mailing, but definitely an option worth considering. (We offer neighborhood mailing lists at our webstore PetersNewNeighbors.com.)

Another way to save yourself the cost of a new mailing list is breathe new life into your old mailing list. Almost 20% of Americans move every year, businesses move or go under, people pass away, so the addresses on your mailing lists don't stay fresh for very long. Its very inexpensive, however, to vet your mailing list of changed addresses; we offer a mailing list cleaning service at PetersListScrub.com that gets rid of the old addresses (saving you the cost of a new mailing list and a lot of wasted printing) while consolidating your list to make you eligible for postal rebates.


About the Author:
Peter "the Printer" Lineal is founder and CEO of
Peter the Printer webstores, a division of Plum Grove Printers, inc. He's been in the business of printing and mailing for 25 years and can be reached at peterl@petertheprinter.net.


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