How to find the right mailing list

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In his book The direct mail solution, direct marketing expert and entrepreneur Craig Simpson offers easy-to-follow solutions for creating direct mail campaigns that work! In this edited excerpt, the author discusses two sources you can use to find the best mailing list for your direct mail campaign.


It’s actually pretty easy to get exactly what you need when it comes to mailing lists for your direct mail campaigns. There are two sources that can help you narrow down your list selection: SRDS or a list broker who will do all the research and negotiations for you.

Standard Rate & Data Service (SRDS) direct marketing list source will provide you with an easy and organized way to review over 100,000 different lists. SRDS will provide you with complete information on the rental of lists (sources, selections, accounts, costs, list managers, etc.). You can use SRDS to search by category, market classification, listing title, and just about any other way to search for a listing.

The most useful and practical source for finding the right mailing list is to use the services of a list broker. A list broker is a direct marketing professional who can provide you with list recommendations. A recce list is a group of lists that the broker has carefully selected for you.

For example, let’s say you sell ski equipment by mail and want to reach people who have already purchased ski equipment. You can request a list recce from a list broker who will do the research and then provide you with an assortment of mailing lists for you to choose from, all in your niche. In this case, it would be a list of available mailing lists containing the names of people who purchased ski equipment by mail.

List brokers have a wealth of knowledge about mailing lists which can make the task of selecting the right list much easier. They can also help you negotiate lower listing rental rates which is a real benefit as listing rental can be expensive. List brokers offer a one-stop-shop for mailing lists, and they’ll save you time and money.

Listing brokers can also help you set up network name arrangements, which can save you thousands of dollars. A clean name arrangement is when the owner of the list agrees to accept a lower payment based on either a percentage or the actual number of names mailed. For example: your “net name arrangement” with the owner of the list could represent 85% of the names sent. This means that if you order 50,000 names, you will only have to pay 42,500.

In the world of listing brokers, there are four main sources that you can access to rent listings:

1. List of brokers. Their basic role is to arrange for you, as the tenant of the list, to rent the list to other companies. Normally, a list broker will research lists and segments to identify which ones will work best for you and what you are trying to accomplish.

2. List managers. They oversee the rental of specific mailing lists that they manage themselves. Listing Managers promote the listings they manage in an effort to entice listing tenants to rent and post their listings. The more people who rent the list, the more revenue is generated for the list manager and the list owner.

They will keep track of all the companies that have rented the list and what they paid for each use. They usually ask the potential list tenant to provide a copy of the sale item they want to send so that the list manager can determine if they need to give approval to rent the list. If the sale item is too competitive with the listing owner’s offer, or if the sale item is likely to offend the listing owner’s customers, the listing manager may decline the rental of the listing. listing.

3. List of compilers. They maintain lists that they have compiled. A compiled list has been put together using multiple sources, such as warranty cards, government records, company reports, phone books, yellow pages, credit bureaus, etc. If you want this type of list, you can work directly with a list compiler.

4. List manager / broker. Often the most versatile source for listing rental is someone who has experience in both listing management and brokerage. However, some people in the direct mail community believe that providing both services is a conflict of interest. You can understand why they think so. The list manager could easily be tempted to put his own list off against the others.

If you do decide to use someone who is both a list manager and a broker, keep an eye out for which lists are recommended. If it looks like most of them are listings that the broker also manages, quickly find a new broker. You want someone who works for you, not for themselves or for their business. Good list managers / brokers will provide you with list recommendations that will best suit your offering whether or not they are managing the list.

Finally, when using a list broker, make sure you receive a large number of lists to choose from. For example, if you are mailing an offer for a weight loss course, your list broker will provide you with list recommendations from the weight loss / diet category. If your goal is to rent 10 listings, your broker should offer you 25 or 30 and also identify which listings they think will work best.

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