List Selection Strategies (1,045 words)
An interview with Paul Goldberg
Want to Know How to Pick the Right Lists?
Of all the elements that go into a direct mail effort, the single most important one is the list. Think about it: If you don't reach the right audience, no matter how brilliant your creative or how enticing your offer, the effort is destined to fail.
"Too little thought goes into lists," affirms Paul Goldberg, a veteran direct marketing consultant who has worked in the industry for more than 40 years. Goldberg, whose firm, P-J Promotions specializes in circulation marketing, points out another reason why list selection is so important: It's expensive to mail—and getting more and more costly every day.
Explains Goldberg, "You're not just spending the $90/M to $150/M for names. You also have to add in the costs for printing, paper and postage. If a mailing in test quantities costs $750, then every 5,000-piece test cell costs you $3,750."
Recognizing the importance of finding the absolute best lists to mail, we asked Goldberg to take us step-by-step through the list selection process and share some of the strategies he developed along the way.
Q: What's the starting point for a direct marketer who wants to choose the best lists to mail?
A: Finding a good broker is the first step in the list selection process. Some may argue that there are two ways to go about getting lists: the do-it-yourself way or hiring a broker. Use a broker. And don't think of your broker as a company, but as an individual.
All brokers have access to the same lists; they charge the same prices; their data cards are basically the same. It's the individual brokers' knowledge about which lists will work for you that makes them worth their commissions. You need to find someone who knows the market you're targeting and is willing to do the work of digging up good list recommendations for you.