As a business person involved in the selling and/or promotion of something by direct mail, you should already know that the most important aspects of your mailing have to do with the sales letter you send out, and the mailing lists you use. With these thoughts in mind, and assuming you've got what should be an order-pulling sales letter, let's focus our attention specifically on the problem of finding mailing lists that produce profitable orders.
Common sense should tell you that without a good mailing list, the time and money you spend on market research, advertising layout and knowledge relating to the rules of direct mail will just be wasted effort. In other words, unless you get your offer to the right buyers, you might as well save your time and money.
In order to reach your most likely buyer, you must first determine who your most-likely buyers are. This is not as hard as it might appear. Actually, it's just a matter of recognizing that automotive items will appeal to car owners, while household gadgets will sell best to homemakers and baby items will appeal to new moms. Don't kid yourself by thinking, "Anyone could use my product!" when what you truly need to look at is who the typical buyer is of your product and market only to them.
Regardless of how easy it is, this is the most often overlooked part of the planning of your direct mail project. Suffice it to say that if you don't know who you're going to sell a product or service to, your product or service is going to be pretty hard for you to sell.
The next thing to really look into, is the competition your product or service faces. If it has a limited market – not too many people would stand in line to buy it – and you are competing with virtually the same product as supplied by other companies – then you're going to have to either come up with a strong 'hidden angle' or else face defeat before you even begin…
These are the keys to success in selling anything via direct mail – pin-pointing exactly who your buyers are, presenting your offer to them with an angle not being used by your competition, and concentrating all your sales efforts only on your most-likely prospects.
Assuming you know who your most likely buyers are, that you've got a winning sales letter, and a product or service these people will stand in line to buy, then your only challenge is to get the message to these people.
Do not try to save money by renting or buying inexpensive mailing lists that are so cheap that they seem too good to be true. You'll waste a lot of time, and waste money mailing to these lists, which you will find to be very inaccurate. Typical accuracy rates for consumers lists are 92% deliverable and businesses lists should be around 85% deliverable. That means if you send out 1000 letters to consumers, you can expect about 80 to come back to you as undeliverable. And out of 1000 letters sent to businesses, you should have less than 150 returned.
Before renting a mailing list from a list broker, use the same kind of common sense you use in deciding upon a doctor, lawyer or auto mechanic. Find a list broker and call them on the phone. Tell the list broker about yourself, what you're trying to sell, how much you're asking for it, and your long-range plans.
A good list broker will ask a lot of questions and will likely want to see a sample of your mailing piece. Don't be afraid to talk with these people – they're in business to help you, and if they rent you a list that doesn't make money for you, they figure you'll not buy from them again, so it's to their benefit to see that you get the right list for your mailing piece and offer. Most of them will even critique your mailing piece and offer, making suggestions for improvements when appropriate, and in general, act as a consultant to see that you realize a profit through their services.
Once you and the list broker have decided upon the mailing list best suited to your offer, he or she will generally require you to rent a minimum of 5,000 names but it really depends on the list source. The going prices will range from approximately $70 to $150 per thousand names. It might seem expensive, but not when you realize that the mailing list is the least expensive component of your direct mail project while at the same time the most important part. Look at your budget and your projected ROI to determine how much you can spend on your list. And don't be afraid to tell your broker what your budget is. It will make their job easier if they know what you can afford. Always ask the accuracy guarantee of the list(s) you are renting and steer clear of any list vendor that will not offer you an accuracy guarantee in writing.
So you see, the important thing is to get your offer to your most likely buyers. The only way to do this – the fastest, and least expensive way – is to work with a reputable mailing list broker and forget about all those various subscription deals and whatnot you'll find online these days.
The bottom-line reason for most of the failures in the direct mail business is simply that the beginner tries to cut corners by using less than the most productive mailing lists available.
Remember: There has to be a hungry market for your product or service. You must project the most professional image of yourself or your company in all your sales letters, advertising and/or dealings with your prospective buyers. And you must know who your buyers are, and then concentrate your efforts to reach only those people with your offers… a reputable mailing list broker will help you find exactly who you need to reach. Call one of our list brokers at 1-888-848-1215 to discuss your project today!