Inviolable List Principles
Richard V. Benson,
consultant and author of “Secrets of Successful Direct Mail”
1. Lists are the most important ingredient to the success of any promotional mailing.
C. Rose Harper,
first woman to serve as chairperson of the Direct Marketing Association, Direct Marketing Hall of Fame inductee, and former president of The Kleid Co.
2. Direct marketing companies don’t have a single mailing list — they have many. How many? Only segmentation will tell.
Your opportunities to segment a customer file into marketing units when purchasing behavioral characteristics are vast. Thus, while the marketing Information network (mIn; www.minokc.com) offers more than 42,000 published lists online, if you take into consideration the segments you’re looking at, it’s more like 400,000 separate and distinct lists.
3. In direct mail you can control your package, offer and product. But the rental list, vital to your success, is the one factor you really can’t control. You don’t own it. Nor did you produce it. You’re entirely dependent on outside parties for the accuracy of those data on which you base decisions. Datacards from brokers or managers are necessarily truncated — usually there’s more to a list than what’s shown on the data-card.
Learn all you can about a list you want to test. Ask for mailing pieces or samples of recent ads that generated the list’s names. Find out where the ads appeared, so you get the “flavor” of the list. 4. Match the mailing file to the response file to understand the geodynamics of response.
Population redistribution is ongoing. In an ever-shifting society, some formerly high-revenue areas may be down in response. One possible reason: a new shopping mall was built in the area and is luring consumers away from catalogs. A fascinating exercise would be to match a list of major malls against geo factors. Suppress certain ZIP codes from your prospect mailings where major malls have been built.