The Truth About Buying Direct Mail Lists

Image thanks to:  fdecomite

Sometimes, the old and unexpected can be new and fresh. Paper direct mail (aka snail mail) may seem out of date and old-fashioned, but being able to hold something (and look at it any time) can be very powerful.

In fact, Smashing Magazine had a feature the other day about creating snail mail campaigns.

But, if you’re going to do a mailing, you’re going to need a list of people to send it to. The obvious first place to start is with the people you already know: your clients, your prospects, and your contacts. You’ll get a better response from people who already know and like you.

If you don’t have clients yet, or your list isn’t big enough, you’ll need to get more names.  What are your options?

Buying a list

Purchasing a list is a bad idea. Purchased lists are generally compiled – meaning that they were put together without any action or purchase from the people on the list. They haven’t asked for anything, or expressed any interest in what you’re selling. Worse, the information is usually out-of-date.

Renting a list

You’re better off renting a list. This means paying for a single use of a list owned by someone else. It might be a list of conference attendees, subscribers to a trade publication, or members of an association in your target market.

Borrowing a list

By borrow I mean bartering (or trading) with someone who already has a list of people you want to reach. Share resources with them. You could provide the design in return for a mention, or do a co-op mailing (where several companies share costs – think ValPak coupons – but more creative).

Have you tried snail mail?  What happened?  Were you pleased with the results?  Need help?  Ask me.

4 thoughts on “The Truth About Buying Direct Mail Lists

  1. I’m fascinated by this kind of old-school jujitsu. Meeting people in person has a far greater impact than sending an e-mail, for example. As I hardly receive any mail (all my bills are automated), any sort of mailing would command my attention. Junk mail seems to have largely dissipated, potentially improving the signal to noise ratio beyond what it used to be.
    .-= JC Hewitt´s last blog ..What Is the Internet and Why Should I Care? =-.

    • Yes, a mailing, particularly a remarkable one, will stand out now, since so much marketing has moved online. People delete email after only looking at the from and subject line. A postcard, for instance, will usually get at least a quick glance front and back.

  2. Great! But i thing renting,buying or borrowing, eveything is treated as a spam until your customer know you!
    What do you say?

  3. Not necessarily. For instance, if you rent a list of attendees from an event you spoke at last week, they will already know you. If you wrote an article in a magazine or guest posted on another blog, you’ll have name recognition, increasing the likelihood that someone will look at your mailing.

    If you borrow a list, you’ll have credibility because the recipients already have a relationship with the company whose list you’re borrowing. Like when American Express prints special offers on your bill from other companies.

    Or, if you’re lucky enough to be a household name, people will pay attention. Google sent me a snail mail coupon. I don’t know how they got my name, but I know what Google is, so I opened it.

Comments are closed.