Your products are certificates of deposit, stocks and bonds. You really need a list of wealthy people who are into stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments. The problem is that there are no lists that isolate the people with significant liquid assets. Yon have to find another way.
The best way is to contact a vendor. Use a mailing list broker if you are offering products or seeking funds from the general public. Use list compilers as contacts when you plan to use a business list or are going to a wide range of customers.
You run a risk when you go to list owners because they will often push their own list, rather than be objective. They will show you how to segment their list. It will be a way, but not necessarily the best way. Before you seek a broker or vendor, you should do some investigating yourself. This not only makes you more knowledgeable, but you may find something even the experts hadn’t thought of.
The first step to finding a good answer is to profile your market. If you already have customers, determine what their unique characteristics are, and which ones can be reasonably grouped together to represent the entire body. How old? What do they read? Are they male or female? And so on.
Next match your profile against the norm and see where they differ. Look for the skew or difference. It may be that people who have lived in the same house for more than 10 years are better prospects. When you find that skew (for example, old-time residents are found to pull twice as well as a general list), then go to the next step.
What other characteristics represent this skewed factor? Do those long-time residents own their home or rent? Are they families or simple heads of households? What is their age?
Next let’s go back to our first example, the search for people with assets. Maybe you find that many of them subscribe to Forbes magazine, are over 50 years old, or contribute to conservative causes. II so, you now know what characteristics you need to find in the lists you are considering testing.
If these answers are not readily available, the next step is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What would you then buy, contribute to, or donate to?
By the way, you can cross over between buyers and donors. In testing some fifty lists for a museum, we found the best list was charge account customers for a major conservative men’s clothing chain. We happened upon this list at a cocktail party at the museum, because we thought and speculated what the group had in common. We thought of where they might purchase their clothes.
If you are still having a hard time deducing what lists might be best, you may wish to contact a noncompetitive organization. For a museum, you can contact similar museums in other cities and ask them what they use successfully. You will be pleasantly surprised how quickly and positively they will answer, especially if you limit the questions to four or less and enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
If you are still stuck, you probably shouldn’t use mailing lists at all but rather go to a two-step prospecting operation. Run an ad with a strongly related offer, or offer the most universal item in your catalog. Those people who are truly interested will respond and allow you to build your own mailing list.
To get the maximum number of responses, offer something free. It obviously has to relate to what you are really selling or you will get poor prospects to identify themselves.
In our illustration of seeking people with sufficient assets to purchase certificates of deposit, stocks, or bonds, the offer could well be: “How To Find Tax Loopholes in Stock and Bond Taxation Laws.” Anyone responding to that offer must have liquid assets to invest.
The use of paper products as the offer usually makes sense, booklets going right to the subject matter can be written in little time and the direct marketing promotional effort for them is comparatively simple.
Remember that response lists are someone’s customer list. Also remember that a directory of any size has undoubtedly been converted to tape and is available in label form for list rental purposes.
Much of list success is from the proper segmentation within a list. If you have a list that looks marginally good, you might be able to segment such a list and make it work well for you.
There are many combinations of lists. The incumbent advertising agency should keep on top of the problems or opportunities to assure that every reasonable factor has been tried.
Some unusual selections are expressed here, simply to show how this thinking process works. Here is an example.
An airline wanted to beef up one route. A list was found of businesses at point A with headquarters at one end of point A of the route, and branch facilities at the other, point B. The specifications were then reversed, seeking those additional companies with headquarters at point B and branches at point A.
Creativity is not limited to the copy and graphics for your program. Media or list creativity is even more important, and should make a bigger difference.