Based on 40 years of experience in direct marketing, I can tell you that most companies put way more thought and effort into what they mail than who they mail. Many a great marketing campaign has fallen on its face because of a flawed direct mail list. Here are some things to consider about your mailing list.
Have you taken the time to examine your mailing list? I’m not suggesting that you sit down and read 10,000 names and addresses. But scanning your list can give you insight. Like, how did someone from Kalamazoo, Mich., end up on the mailing list for my store, which serves an audience that lives within 5 miles of its location in Lexington, Ky.? A scan might also reveal problems caused by sloppy data entry–it’s probably Main Street not Maine Street, for example. If you know your customers well, you might be shocked to find several who have passed away and are still on your direct mail list. Spend a few minutes studying your mailing list and you might decide it is time to give it a major overhaul and update.
As your business changes, your mailing list will need to change as well. Let’s say, for example, that you started out small, selling gluten-free dog biscuits in your hometown. Word has spread and now, you realize that dog owners across the country who have dogs that are gluten-sensitive need your product. A good direct mail company can help you capitalize on that larger market by creating a national mailing list. On the flip side, your mailing list could be too broad. For example, if you operate a shop that sells quilting supplies, is it smart to send direct mail to every household within 10 miles of its location? Probably not. Better to pinpoint some qualities of your typical customer using gender, age, income, etc. and create a targeted mailing list using those attributes.
Do you need to send every piece of direct mail to everyone on your list? Probably not, so it is wise to be able to slice and dice your list so you can send some direct mail to part of the list and some to others. For example, you might want to send a special discount only to existing customers as a show of appreciation. If you are a realtor and your mailing list includes all homeowners in your city, you might want to segment your list by neighborhood so you can send pinpointed messages to homeowners in one part of town. For example, realtors often send post cards to let homeowners know they have successfully sold a house in that neighborhood.
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