W-a-y West of Jewfish Creek
Dear Friend and
If you learn how to use direct mail properly, the results can be so
amazing, it may take your breath away!
not kidding. Here's an example: Once upon a time, I wrote a simple,
one-page letter that sold "family name research reports" which told
you about the history of your surname and some facts (including a
drawing) of the earliest known coat-of-arms recorded with your surname.
Now, would you care to guess how many cash-with-order customers I
got from that one-page letter? It's really quite astonishing... because...
I sold those little reports to...
All from a simple, one-page letter.
Isn't that something? By the way, it took more than 40 people just
to make the bank deposits because, often, we'd receive more than 20,000
checks in a single day.
as you can see, if you use direct mail... and... do it right,
it can really pay off!
as far as doing it right is concerned, the most important element
of all is the mailing list. It doesn't matter how attractive your
offer or how brilliant your sales letter if you mail to the wrong
list, you're going to flop.
mailing lists should you use? Well, that depends on what kind of business
you're in. If you've got a business like a restaurant, a hardware
store or some other kind of retail establishment, your choices are
pretty much obvious... because... what you need is simply the names
and addresses of everyone who lives in your trading area. In other
words, what you need is a "resident" list.
list like this is every easy to obtain. Actually, if you live in a
fair-sized city, it may very well be as easy as looking under "Mailing
Lists" in the yellow pages of your telephone book. Here in Los Angeles,
for example, there are 31 entries under mailing lists in the Pacific
Bell Business-to-Business yellow pages. One of these companies is
called "Mailing Lists of Southern California" and their number is
(800) 352-7450 and they have the name and address of almost everyone
who lives in southern California and you can order them by Zip code.
can also specify if you want homeowners only or apartment dwellers
only. You can get the names of all the chiropractors, all the nurses,
the real estate brokers, tax preparers, optometrists and many other
types of occupations. You can also order all the boat owners, business
owners (by category) and almost any other selection your little heart
an example of how you can use these mailing lists. Let's suppose you
own a restaurant. Well, what you could do is order all the names and
addresses of all the 6,486 dentists in southern California and send
them a letter like this:
I am writing this letter to you
because you are dentist.
My name is John Jones and I own
"John's Restaurant" here in Anytown, and I have decided that every
day next month, I am going to serve free wine with every meal to every
dentist who comes in for dinner. Want to know why? It's a very unusual
reason and, if you'll ask me about it, I'll tell you when you drop
why are you offering a "dentist's special" for your restaurant? I
don't know. Maybe because your daughter married a dentist and she
didn't end up marrying that Padagonian pygmy you were worried about.
Maybe because a dentist did something to save you from periodontal
disease. And, if this approach works, why not have a special for insurance
agents, or accountants, or architects, and so on?
is an example of "customizing" your advertising to a specific group.
You can also customize it by geographic area, by boat owners or what
listen: If there aren't any companies under "Mailing Lists" in your
phone book, all is not lost. You see, there are two big national companies
who also have the name and address of nearly everyone in your geographic
area. So, if you don't luck out with a local company, you should call
either R. L. Polk & Company at (404) 447-1280 or Donnelly List
Marketing at (203) 353-7385.
the way, these last two companies can also select by make, year and
model of car. Do you know what that means? Just this: It means you
can also have a "Ferrari Special", a "Chevy Special", a "Ford Special"
and so on.
what we've been talking about so far are compiled lists. Another
type of list is known as a "buyers list." This type of list is usually
much more responsive but, often, it is not regional in nature.
A "buyer" list, for example, might contain all the names of the several
million people who bought a certain diet product in the last few years.
Or, it could be a list of people who have bought books by mail, tools
by mail, etc.
are two primary sources that have info on these types of lists. The
first is the Standard Rate & Data (SRDS) List Book. This
is a huge book containing a description of literally thousands
of different mailing lists. Your library should have it (ask for SRDS
Direct Mail Lists Rates and Data) and, if they don't, you can
call SRDS direct at (312) 256-6067.
the way, I strongly suggest you get a copy of this publication (it's
being updated all the time) and spend about 20 hours just reading
all the various listings.
me, it will really open your eyes!
other source for those names, is your handy, dandy list broker. A
list broker works very much like a real estate broker except his product
is names and addresses rather than homes. Once again, your phone book
is the first place you should check to find a list broker in your
city. If there aren't any in your local area, I suggest you go to
your library and see if they have, as many libraries do, the phone
books from major cities all over the country. If they do, then simply
check under "Mailing List Brokers" in the yellow pages of the phone
book of the largest city near you.
just for instance, I'm going to give you here the names and phone
numbers of five list brokers in different parts of the U.S. Here they
Los Angeles - Thulin Communications, Inc.
Jim Thulin at (213) 930-1919
New York - The Specialist
Newman at 212 677-6760
Chicago - Aggressive List Management, Inc.
Oklahoma - Direct Media, Inc.
Ohio - Professional List Service
once you decide which lists you want to mail, you should also give
some consideration as to how you are going to eliminate "deadwood"
names which probably will never become one of your customers. Some
of the ways you do this are very simple and only require a little
common sense. If, for example, you are selling something that only
appeals to women, you instruct the list broker or list owner to simply
eliminate all men from the list.
it's not always that simple. Suppose, for example, you are selling
an upscale product with a big price tag... and... you know lower income
people are not good prospects for you. Well, what you need to know
here is some of the bigger list companies like Donnelly & Polk
use what is known as a "demographic overlay." What this means is each
name on their files is "coded" with info about the aggregate value
of the vehicles they own, their education and income level, their
marital status and a dozen or so more "life-style indicators" which
enables you to select only those people who are most likely to purchase
your goods or services.
way you can choose people is by ethnic groups such as Italians, Germans,
etc. And if, for example, you are publishing a magazine like Ebony
that is written for a Black audience, you can ask for only those people
who live in Zip codes with predominately Black households.
the other hand, you can also eliminate Black households from your
mailings if you are selling something which only appeals to Caucasians.
no matter what mailing list you decide to use, be sure and discuss
the "selects" available with your list broker or whatever mailing
house you are using.
conclusion, I'd like to say the main things you should do, as a result
of reading this Section are:
Browse through the SRDS List Book for several hours at least.
It will really open your eyes... and... give you hundreds of
Call at least one of the list brokers or mailing houses mentioned
in this Section and ask for their advice!
Put on your "thinking cap" and think of some fresh new ways to "customize"
finally... good luck!
Gary C. Halbert
Copyright © 2002 Gary C. Halbert. All Rights