European List Experience List Strategies That Worked for Three
J&L Industrial Supply
This business-to-business direct marketer of metal working consumables finds accessing information takes longer in Europe than in the States. Says Cathy Veri, J&L's director of marketing, "It's a little like playing a game of hide-and-seek." With fewer b-to-b lists available—most of which are compiled—and few unique lists, "you have to talk to people within your industry to find the information you're looking for," Veri adds. On the flip side, "there are definite benefits to renting local lists because the list brokers know their data better," says Veri, who, like her counterparts at Day-Timers, only works with in-country brokers.
Targeting small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies with fewer than 200 employees, Veri finds her biggest challenge is finding lists with the names of purchasing agents. "You can always get the address, but sometimes it's difficult to find the name of the person who will buy your product." Appropriate names are more readily found on publication subscriber files, but these lists are not always available.
In the United Kingdom, where J&L has used a mixture of compiled and response files, Veri looks closely at the data to make sure the titles and size of companies fit with J&L's target audience. She also scrutinizes SIC codes because classifications differ overseas. "You have to search for what you want; our best SIC in the States doesn't exist in the United Kingdom," she explains.
J&L mails 80,000 pieces monthly in the United Kingdom and 90,000 pieces eight times a year in Germany. Due to postage costs, it only mails its master catalog once a year and uses a lighter mail piece dubbed "The Advantage" for subsequent mailings. "The Advantage" spotlights 200 to 300 discounted items from its master catalog and is used both for customer acquisition and retention.
Mail campaigns are split evenly between housefile names and prospect names. Because J&L often captures more than one contact per company, mailings more accurately contain 75 percent customer names and 25 percent prospect names. Acquisition mailings have generated a 4-percent response within the first year of its German operation and have pulled similar response rates in the United Kingdom.