When it comes to effective lead generation methods, the mailing list is often looked at as a last minute, oh-by-the-way nuisance. Whether we are sending out direct mailers or personalized direct mail to prospects in the hopes of stirring them to movement, we tend to go right to the magical, clever, never-seen-before “mailer”. If I’m being honest with myself, and this is a true confession, I can say I’ve been there before. A designer at heart, I was most concerned with creating that unique, award-winning piece and didn’t think much about to whom it would go. After all, that’s the fun part, right?
Well, yes, probably. But not thinking much about the recipient and just focusing on what the piece is—what it says—what it looks like, is the kiss of death in personalized direct mail…in any marketing! Let’s say you were in need of reliable transportation to get back and forth to work. You find a used car you like and spend all of your time looking at the condition of the interior, the paint job, the tires and the sound system…only to find out that it doesn’t run. In fact, I’ve come to realize that the part I was so concerned with for most of my career has actually taken a back seat. Now, with the strategic marketing services we offer and the types of programs we’ve built for many diverse clients, I seldom worry about the direct mail design phase at all. I know it will look great, I know it will get the attention it deserves but what I also know now is that all of that is completely irrelevant if the proper attention isn’t paid to the mailing list. In short, a solid mailing list is not only the backbone of an effective campaign, it’s the heart of your business development efforts. A good list CAN work wonders—a bad list WILL do absolutely nothing!
So how do I build a good list? Well, the short answer is:it depends. It depends on what you’re doing, where you are in that process and what your desired outcome is. You may be in a BtoB environment trying to attract new business (cold), or you may be in a BtoC environment trying to up sell/cross sell and expand your business with existing customers. There are compiled list sources and specialty response list sources.
The details and concrete next steps vary depending on what your particular situation is and who you're targeting. But one thing is always true: start by modeling the clients you’ve had success with in the past. Whether you use this information to go find more prospects, or drive appropriate messaging to current clients—these successes will be critical in determining the criteria for establishing what an ideal prospect “looks like”. What do they buy? How do they buy? What type of organization do they come from? Are there any patterns or similarities that stand out when you analyze this information? The answers to these questions not only help you determine how to craft the list, but they can also drive the tactics you will ultimately develop to “touch” your prospects. Good luck.