Image by: Oran Viriyincy
By Charles Lewis
For decades, direct mail was the standard bearer for many companies looking to reach a large number of consumers that fit a certain demographic. The ability to fine-tune your audience down to gender, race and income helped fuel America’s growth during a large chunk of the 20th century.
Plus, it has a certain charm, really. A uniformed person hand delivers your material to the exact customer you have chosen by name to receive the advertisement or offer you had painstakingly designed, printed and bulk mailed. You can practically smell the pies cooling on the window sill.
But along came the Internet and the landscape changed. It’s no longer a yellow brick road paved with opportunity but an information superhighway buzzing with bytes and crawling with spyders. Now, everybody is talking about “e” this and “i” that, blasting emails, flashing AdWords and Tweeting like crazy.
Old School Vs. New School
Advertising on the Internet and through email is amazing, yes indeed. But better than old school direct mail? No, not for everyone. In the digital world, a potential customer simply has to push a single button to opt-out of what you’re offering. That’s a pretty easy brush-off.
Disposing of a direct mail piece is a much more arduous process. Customers have to make multiple steps and moves to discard of your marketing materials, giving you multiple opportunities to get their attention before it becomes landfill.
And direct mail has been proven to be quite successful for those willing to put in the time to develop a campaign that works well within the medium. And a big part of that soon-to-be success story is The List.
Find Your Target
Before you go shopping for your list – yes, you will have to pay for a good list, and it is not always cheap – there are a few details about your target audience that you must first decipher.
How many pieces do you need to send out to make a return on your investment? You may need to send out 100,000 mailers to meet your goal of 1,000 responses. Are you trying to reach households with children? Are you trying to reach single males between the ages of 18-25?
You need to have all of this figured out before you start shopping for The List.
It’s Go Time
So, you’ve got your target market defined, your marketing materials designed, and you are ready to go. Now it is time to buy the list. But remember, all of your work you have done up until this point will be for naught unless you take your time and do some research before you hit that complete transaction button.
Sites like CostOwl and BuyerZone aggregate bunches of list companies so that you can comparison shop. You basically enter in your demo info and it spits out list providers eager to sell you a file. Stand-alones like infoUSA came from the mail side first as they have been around since before “e” met “mail.”
We like NextMark’s Mailing List Finder for its access to 60,000+ lists. National Public Radio didn’t call it “The Google of mailing lists” for nothing.