Rented list: From a mailing service or list broker with a variety of “selects,” which refer to your specific list design (zip code, age of home, etc, are all selects). As you’d guess, the more “selects,” the greater the cost per thousand. Try single-family residences, $250,000-plus, over seven years old, within a geographic region. Remember, as the list gets smaller (per select), you save postage and get a better list. Postage is generally the number-one expense.
Geographic list: Also a rented list, but within an area, usually defined by radius to a point or zip code. Cheap, plentiful, but dangerously wasteful in their simplicity unless you’ve got a good reason to stay within a geographic area. (Such as a mass tune-up campaign, open house, etc.) If you want to “own” a neighborhood, this is the list to buy or rent.
CCI list: CCI stands for Champion Circle of Influence; this list uses an “association” to drive the message. A Chamber member, for example, would sign a letter you create that says something like, “As a fellow chamber member, you know how difficult it is to find a business in our town that matches your professional ethics. Yet….” Use neighborhood associations, builders groups, whatever. These lists are underused, yet incredibly powerful.
Reactivation list: Another reason to never throw away names: Inactive or ex-customers will reactivate and spend money — if you say the right things. (Almost no one does. Tragic.) Tell them you miss them, and if you did anything that might’ve offended them, you want to make it right with a free something or discount to “come back into the fold.” We sent 184 excustomers a reactivation letter, and got a 2.6% response for $140,000 in sales. Not bad for money headed to the trash.
Manufacturer-utility list: These may be free! Just ask. Your utility company may also share one other incredible tidbit, average utility bills. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Get on it.
Partnered list: This is the house list of a noncompetitor (perhaps a plumber who doesn’t do hvac, a maid service, lawn maintenance outfit, or some other company that has a list with shared ideals); in this case, home ownership and maintenance. Your “partner” must introduce you and recommend you in the letter. Clearly, this favor is to be returned, and if appropriate, at zero cost to each.
New homeowners: I’ve written dozens of these letters for contractors, and they’re a great way to introduce your services. The list is good because it’s “fresh,” but be careful that your mailing does not try to stuff a sale on them right away. The theme is simply “welcome,” since they’ve presumably just gone into major debt to become a member of this list. Be soft. It’ll work.
Card deck list-mailing: I intensely dislike these except for one simple reason, they’re very inexpensive. Thus, do not try to sell your high-end stuff here. You’d better be offering a “free” something, a really good finance offer, or a major discount that appeals to the “quick flash” buyer. Otherwise, this is a total waste of money.
Determine “who” is a ready market for “what” message. Then pare down to the most likely respondents.
Next, either write the letter or have one crafted that speaks to them to pull the highest response. You’ll find that effort pays off handsomely.
Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, whose motto is “Creative Marketing That Works.” He can be reached at 800-489-9099.
Publication date: 11/20/2000