List determination: How it works for you

Taking Care of Business

This direct mail column is devoted to list determination, acquisition and use.

With rising costs of paper, printing and postage, it has become extremely important to become more efficient in one’s selection of who is receiving your mail. By profiling your customers and selecting the lists that represent that group of constituents, you target your mail pieces directly to those who will have interest in your products or services. This eliminates waste in paper, printing and postage costs.

Let’s examine some examples of profiling and list selection:

  • If you are a restaurant or food store, since everyone has to eat, your best selection is going to be homes near your business location. You would use what is called a “Walk Sequence Saturation” list, representing the geographic area around your business. This type of list covers all postal deliveries in a carrier’s route, which also obtains the greatest postage rate reduction.
  • If you are a landscape company, you may want to reach high-income homeowners who can afford to hire your services to landscape and/or maintain their property.
  • If you are campaigning for political office, you would expect to use a voter registration list to identify those persons you hope to persuade to vote for you. These lists feature age, sex, political district, political inclination and in what past elections they have participated. So, you can filter a group of individuals by specific characteristics in order to promote a particular thought that would be of interest to those individuals.
  • If you are a roofing company, your customers might be general contractors who use roofing companies as subs. So, your mailing might go to general contractors. Also, since a roof may need repair or replacing 20 years after a home had been built, you may target a subdivision that had been constructed approximately 20 years earlier. If you start repairs in a subdivision, that might be a key that others in that area may also need repair. Again, a walk sequence list for that geographic area may be best.
  • If you are a mortgage banker during a time when interest rates are low, it is possible to identify homes that were built when interest rates were high. When you send a properly designed promotion to that household expressing how they could save by refinancing, you greatly enhance your opportunity to get a response.

There are many types of lists being compiled on all of us. Our interests are shown by which magazine subscriptions we have, what associations in which we have membership, the cars we drive, in what activities we may participate, etc. Your interests, hobbies and vacation preferences may show up in “Lifestyle” lists. By knowing enough about your customers or potential customers to develop a profile, you can use that information to seek mailing lists that meet your criteria, and therefore limit your mailings to just your potential target.

Professional mailers can help you with list selection, mail piece design and seeing to it that your promotions are mailed at the most economical postage rates.

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of four columns about bulk mailing. Look for other columns related to this topic in future issues.

About Joe Lieberman 4 Articles
Joe Lieberman is president and owner of Peninsula Data Service Center. He can be reached at 757-873-2132 or by email at

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