Creating a Mailing List

The recipe for creating a successful mailing list
(United States Postal Service)

1. Identify your best customers

A mailing list works best when you mail to people who are like your best customers. So before you go looking for a list, look at your own records – invoices, sales slips, delivery addresses – any record you may have of who your customers are and what they bought from you. Look for the people who bought from you most recently, most often, and who spent the most money. In trade lingo, this is called RFM: Recency, Frequency and Monetary Value.

2. Understand your “model” customer

Now that you’ve identified your best customers, you need to find out what they have in common with each other. If you have a neighborhood business, like a pizzeria, you may find that most of your customers live within three miles of your store. Or that they are businesses within five miles. In this case, you would want a list that targets customers geographically. There are also companies that can analyze and profile your best customers for you. For instance, you can find out how old they are or what kinds of cars they drive. Let’s say you discover that your best customers are 25 to 35 year old housewives with at least two children. Knowing this, you can look for more customers just like them.

3. Find more “model” customers

Once you know the people you want to mail to, you can probably find a mailing list to reach them. There are thousands of lists available. You can find everything from animal shelter donors to buyers from medical supply catalogs. Is there a magazine whose readers you think would fit the profile of your best customers? You can buy a list of subscribers in your area. Are you best prospects businesses with under 50 employees and over $10 million in sales? You can rent a list of companies that fit that profile. You might also want to consider compiling a list. Say you have a business selling custom-made golf bags. You want to sell to people who play golf, live in your area, and have the income to afford your products. List compilers will scan huge databases for people who fit all those criteria. The most expensive lists are those of people who spend a lot, buy often and have bought recently (high RFM). These lists are expensive but if you’ve profiled your customers well, it may be worth the cost. Remember, the right list pays for itself many times over.

 

Once you have that list then you can decide on the type of mail that would best fit your message. Postcard marketing is by far the most cost effective, and there's also brochures and flyers that are very effective. We have even had customers mail out note cards just saying hi and thank you for your business.

 

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