Direct Marketing Tips to Find New Customers


Direct Marketing Tips to Find New Customers

When you manage a business there is one fact that never changes:  If people don’t know about your company, they aren’t going to buy from you.  So, one marketing tactic successful companies use to find new customers is direct marketing.  Mailing lists are used in direct mail marketing campaigns.

Mailing lists are compilations of the names and addresses of actual and potential buyers of a product or service. Let me share some tips on how direct mail marketing can help you increase your customer base.

As with any marketing campaign, you need to zero in on your target audience.  Do this by developing a detailed profile that defines your ideal customer.  For B2B, include data points such as industry, company size, location, and title in the market you want to target. Whether it’s for B2B or B2C, also keep the following in mind during your analysis:

  • Review products/services. Have a clear understanding of how the company’s products and services are used by your current customers to determine the people involved in the selection and purchase of your goods and services. For me, I would look at titles of people involved in sales and marketing. Their characteristics and buying behavior will help refine your customer profile.
  • More sophisticated buyers. Customers have higher expectations and prefer personalized campaigns.
  • Document the profile. Your team will understand who the ideal customer is when the profile is documented. The documentation offers a reference point when evaluating the campaign.

Once a customer profile is created for the direct mail campaign, you want to identify the companies to be contacted.  This is done by using North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes.  (Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes were used until 2004 when the national standard changed to NAICS codes.)  Developed by the federal government, NAICS codes identify a company’s primary business activity.  Although NAICS codes will narrow your mailing list, it’s not always 100 percent accurate.  From time to time, misclassified companies will be included.  When this happens, you have to take them off the list.

You have a customer profile and identified the companies/industries you will target.  The question I’m often asked is what is involved in obtaining a mailing list for a campaign applying the profile and industry data.  There are essentially three options.

  1. Response lists
    The most valuable response list a business owner has is the “house list” of past and current customers. This list can be augmented by people who have responded to offers outside of the company. Think people who may have responded to offers from other media like magazines.
  2. Compiled Lists
    Compiled lists contain names and addresses of individuals found from the White or Yellow Pages (remember those), magazine subscriptions, or professional association directories.
  3. Opt-in email list
    The contact information provided in an opt-in email list comes from individuals who have responded to an offer. Although an opt-in email list can be purchased, the best approach is to generate your own opt-in email contact list. How is this done? Create content on your website that is valuable to your profiled customer. It can be a checklist, e-book, template, etc.  For exchanging an asset you provide, the customer gives you their email address. You have probably seen this tactic done when you’ve visited a website.

Once you decide on the type of list you are going to acquire, the next decision is whether to buy or rent the list. With people changing jobs as rapidly as they do, it is very difficult to keep lists updated. Depending on the purpose of the direct mail campaign (limited time offer versus longer term education), I would suggest either renting for one time usage or the longest for one year.

For many lists you also have the option to acquire the email addresses for an additional charge. I would expect about 20% of the addresses to bounce. If you plan to use a third-party provider for your email marketing campaign, clarify their policy regarding the use of purchased or rented email lists. There is a good chance you will be violating spamming laws.   For B2B, I don’t suggest relying on email marketing to find new clients. There is just too much junk email out there to cut through the clutter. I do use email to keep in touch and introduce new products and services.

At your next planning meeting, consider how you can create a direct mail marketing campaign for your company.  It is just one method of finding new customers, but a valuable tool in your marketing tool kit.  Graphics Plus can help you do this.

In future articles I will discuss trade shows, trade journal ads, websites and other tactics.

Mike Jais – Partner at Graphics Plus Inc.


Graphics Plus in Lisle, Illinois provides MARKETING SUPPORT solutions to help organizations create, print, produce and distribute marketing communication messages cost effectively. Visit us at