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How to Choose the Right Mailing List. The first thing you should do is decide whom you want to target with your mailing. If you're selling a product or providing a service to a business, decide the type of business you are trying to reach. Businesses are classified by appointed SIC codes (Standard Industry Classification) codes. Your local library should have a list of SIC codes, or if you tell us (American Profiles) the type of business you want to target, we'll provide you with a list that will help you narrow your search to the most specific industry of that particular category.
You should try and be as specific as possible to select the SIC code. For example: if you're selling measuring devices to contractors, an SIC code for general contractors would be fine. But if you were selling a measuring device such as a transit, you would want to narrow your search to surveyors and engineers. The idea is to be as specific as you can, so that you can target your best prospects. That's why targeted mailing lists are so popular over traditional shotgun print advertising. Direct mailing and/or telemarketing to your best customer profile cuts the waste of marketing to someone who has no interest or need for your product, saving you and your company time and money.
If you're selling to residential customers, there are demographic criteria to consider in narrowing your choices. Is your product or service for a young, middle age or elderly group? Do you want men, women or both? If it's a child's product, you want only parents. Do you want to reach homeowners or apartment dwellers? Are you targeting individuals at certain income levels? College graduates? Specific magazine subscribers? Voters? Sports lovers? Charitable contributors? You know who your customers are better than anyone.
By now you can see the logic. There are databases of business and residential names and addresses available for almost any type of mailing, so the more precise you are with your selection, the faster, cheaper and better the results. An American Profiles representative will be glad to help you with targeting your best prospects and future customers.
Geography. Where do you want to market your product or service? You can choose by zip code, county, state, nationwide or internationally. You know your market area better than anyone does. Generally, it's a good idea to start local or small, and expand out as you gain your market share. This will also allow you to concentrate on your existing client base and be able to handle the additional business coming in from the direct marketing campaign without being overwhelmed. Our representatives can advise you on this as well.
Timing. Set your mailing/telemarketing campaign for the best time to advertise your particular product. Snow blowers won't sell in July! Likewise, if you are selling winter fashions such as coats, you should contact buyers well before it gets cold! You should know your product and the best time for the customer to receive your offer.
We also suggest that you send out your mailer early in the week so your prospects receive it in the middle of the week. Monday and Friday are not good days to have the prospect receive your mail piece.
Postage. First class or third class? Some say that it really don't depend on how it is mailed (although a stamp is more personal), but more upon the mail piece itself.
Third class mail takes longer, but costs less. You will have to figure on a mailing permit, and your local post office will give you that information.
First class mail offers better delivery service, but costs more. You can also get a mailing permit for first class mailings for moderate savings over the cost of a stamp. There are certain restrictions for this, which your post office can tell you about.
The Mail Piece. It should be well designed and mailed to the right prospect list to ensure the best results. How it gets there is not all that important. But eye-catching mail gets noticed. Call us for some tips on getting your mail piece opened. Our suggestion is to prepare several pieces. The first mailing can be the least expensive - a simple, but smart looking post card. It can be produced in quantity on any kind of office printer, or you can make a master copy and have it sent out to a professional printer. Post cards in one color are the least expensive. You can put lots of great information on a post card to introduce your product or service, and make it interesting enough to draw response for purchase or more information.
If more information is requested, you should have a price sheet and/or brochure describing what you are selling in more detail. Also included in this should be an order form (if applicable), and complete contact information with a business card.
Follow-Up. The most important factor in a good mailing list is follow-up! You can plan your mailing carefully to include one or two mailings. Statistics show that a good direct mail program should have 6 to 8 mailings per year to the same list. So it is an investment you must be prepared to make if you want it to be successful.
Mailing labels, index cards, computer disks and printouts are some formats available from American Profiles mailing list company. If you buy more than one set of labels, there is a great saving. You can also buy lists with the phone number added, so that your office can follow up mailings with a friendly phone call. You can also request contact names of owners and officers of a company, or home addresses of professionals.
IN CONCLUSION. Direct mail is powerful! But it is important to realize it needs to be an on-going process of continued mailings. Don't expect the world to come knocking just because you sent out 1,000 post cards inviting business. Just know that the millions of dollars spent each year in direct mail do what they are intended to do - bring in business. Some call it "junk mail" for a good reason. Much of it is discarded without a thought, because it may not interest the person who receives it at the time it arrives. But if they receive notice of your product or service when they need it, you will be surprised at the response you get. So plan carefully and design a great-looking mailing piece that completely describes what you offer and gives important contact information about how to reach you. You can learn a lot about what makes a good direct mailing piece by studying some of the mail you receive. Don't be afraid to "borrow" some of the great creative ideas others have used to get your attention on mail you have received.
HINT: You can mail in a pattern that will save you money, if you are mailing via first class mail using stamps. Try getting a list of 3,000 to 10,000 prospects and get all the labels at one time. Then just mail 1000 (more or less) each week. Your postage cost is spent over a period of time that way, and you are able to follow up in a planned manner on your mailings each week. It also makes it possible for you to fulfill any requests or orders for each weekly mailing. Plus, it makes it easier to tabulate results from each mailing. You can list which mailing piece gets more results, which day of the week brings more response, which item advertised is more successful, and any other information specific to your mailing. Tabulating results is a very important part of direct mailing, so take it seriously. It is worth the extra effort to know what works, and will save time and money in future mailings. Good Luck!
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