The Money Is In The Mailing List

Then, use this mailing list to send an extensive direct mail campaign that will educate your potential customers.

I grew up in Minnesota, and I like to think time spent in a place that is beautiful and bitter made me more resourceful and resilient, qualities that have certainly come in handy in 41 years of business. Those qualities, as well as persistence, are also valuable as you create a direct mail strategy to turn prospects into loyal customers.

Armed with the value of your list and cost of lost contacts, evaluating the worth of an optimized email strategy is simple. Erik Severinghaus is the founder & CEO of SimpleRelevance, a Chicago-based company focused on digital marketing personalization. Response rates to direct mail in 2016 were 5.3 percent for a house mailing list and 2.9 percent for a prospect list, up significantly from the year before when the rate was 3.7 percent for a house list and 1 percent for a prospect list. This means the mailing list is not cleaned and updated regularly which results in a large number of 'undeliverables'. Keep in mind that the difference between $40 per 1,000 names and $70 per 1,000 is ONLY 3 CENTS PER NAME! This is a very minor expense when compared to the cost of printing, envelopes and postage.

Persistence and repetition are key

It takes at least five tries to get a prospective customer to talk to you.

We’ve all had our foot pushed out the door by potential customers. They don’t know us, they are busy, they guard their time like a Rottweiler. We not only feel rejected but like we are wasting massive amounts of time.

In such situations, persistence is essential. 10.6 reviewap calculus. Tim Wackel, a sales training expert, has found that we have to approach potential customers at least five times before they’ll give us some time; nearly 80% of new business sales happen on or after the fifth contact. Most of us, according to Wackel, give up after two or three tries.
I agree with Wackel, but I also believe there is a way to warm up these prospects and make them not only take your call but perhaps pick up the phone and call you.

Direct mail can introduce your company to prospective clients

One of the best ways to break down barriers is through a direct mail campaign. Direct mail can introduce your company to potential clients, educate them about your products or services and show them how your company helps its customers. Those chilly cold calls—and all that wasted time—are eliminated.

And in case you are about to argue that direct mail is dead, studies from the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) prove otherwise. DMA’s statistics show that although direct mail volume is decreasing, its effectiveness is on the rise. It’s probably because with less clutter in the mailbox, the mail that is there gets more notice.

Response rates to direct mail in 2016 were 5.3 percent for a house mailing list and 2.9 percent for a prospect list, up significantly from the year before when the rate was 3.7 percent for a house list and 1 percent for a prospect list.

Build your own list of prospective customers

Companies often jump feet first into direct mail. They buy an enormous mailing list and start peppering those on the list with weekly postcards.

Using direct mail effectively requires more of a deep dive than a big splash. The success of these campaigns rests almost entirely on the quality—not the quantity—of the prospects on your mailing list. Instead of buying a list from a list broker, I suggest you build your own or have one built to your specifications.

Making your own prospect list allows you to start a targeted direct mail campaign and forces you to think more strategically about whose business you want to pursue. You can’t do business with everyone, which is why it makes sense to hand-pick your prospects, using the customers you value as models for what you look for in future clients. It prevents you from wasting time and money chasing business that is not a good fit.

Identify the qualities of your ideal customer.

What does your ideal client or customer look like? Is the customer a man or a woman? Young or old? Rich or poor? Where do they live? What do they do for a living? Why do they want or need your product or service? How often do they buy it?

Granted, we all realize that our customers aren’t all the same, but I guarantee that yours have commonalities. If you run a B2B company, make a list of your top 5 to 10 current customers. You can measure your “ideal customer” in various ways: annual sales, number of employees, rate of expansion and growth, geographic location. After you compile a list, think about what the qualities these customers share? What traits do you appreciate?

In addition to looking at qualities you’d like to see in a client, think about things that would make you kick a client off your list.

Here are a few:

  • Bad reputation (unscrupulous business dealings, questionable finances, employment problems)
  • Legal issues
  • Unpleasant to work with
  • Disorganized and unprofessional

Growing your business the best way

By merging your targeted prospect list with a direct mail campaign, you target customers that are best for your business. As you build your list, here are other points to consider in choosing your prospects:

Who do I want to build a relationship with over time?

Anyone who has owned a business will tell you that not all customers are created equal. In fact, some customers, because of the time they require, the irritation they cause and the demands they make, are not worth having from a cost/benefit standpoint. The best customers work well with you, like your product or service, have few complaints or are effective complainers, and pay you on time and without hassle.

Pick business niches or verticals that you understand.

Who can you talk most directly to? You don’t want to put all your chickens in one henhouse, but your business becomes more effective and efficient when you specialize in a few areas. One area of specialty for our business is creating and managing billing for utility companies. When you operate within a niche like that, you learn the lingo and the pain points. When it is obvious that you understand a customer’s business, they are more likely to choose you as a supplier.

Avoid competing or overlapping businesses.

Gas and electric companies generally serve geographic areas where they are the sole source for power, so they rarely have competitors. But if, for example, your potential clients are hospitals, you must take care to avoid those that compete with one another for patients.

Estimate a potential customer’s value.

Weigh the cost of doing business with clients versus the revenues that could be generated by providing them with a product or service. Does the potential revenue exceed the cost? Factor in the time it will take to meet with the client on an ongoing basis. How many of your employees will spend time on this account? Here’s a tool you can use for calculating value. And here are a couple of article from major business magazines, Entrepreneur and Inc. about why lifetime value is important.

The Money Is In The Mailing List

Build a targeted mailing list in 3 steps

There are two routes to building mailing lists. You can buy existing lists based on what you want in a client. While that is better than simply mailing scattershot, building your own list is best because you will end up with customers that are a better fit for your company.

Remember, creating these lists is part science and part art. Be flexible and creative; you and your staff will come up with ideas and methods beyond these that work well for your business.

1. Set a reasonable goal.

If you have staff that can dedicate time to the project, start with a big goal. Find someone in your company who doesn’t mind doing some detective work: building a list requires phone calls and digging through websites and other online sources.

For small businesses, I recommend starting small so the task isn’t overwhelming. Perhaps compile data on 200 potential customers. If that sounds like too many, go for 100. But start somewhere. Do what you can do and gradually build on it.

2. Have staff add their ideal prospects to list.

Using the qualities of an “ideal” customer that you came up with, create a list of prospective clients. Names can come from a number of sources. Make sure everyone involved in sales and marketing in your company contributes to the list.

Names can come from:

  • Contacts made on LinkedIn
  • Contacts made at trade shows, conferences and meetings
  • Industry and business directories
  • Companies on your sales peoples target list
  • Members of professional associations
  • Media reports (stories about companies read in newspapers, magazines, online).

3. Do research online and on phone to complete client information form

After your list has been compiled, choose a client information form (make sure the style you choose has room for notes) and have your staff person begin to add the required data — phone numbers, email addresses, contact information, key contacts within the organization. This will take multiple phone calls and Google searches. Use the phone calls to double-check key contacts and other information, which can quickly become outdated. Make any updates in the client information form (Also, remember that you will need to update this form at least once a year, more often if possible.)

We built our own mailing list, identifying 11 business areas where Bluegrass had expertise, existing customers and potential for growth. We then used various resources to find prospects in those categories. We narrowed the list using geographic and financial parameters.

Your staff can use websites to gather a lot of information, but often a follow-up phone call is a wise way to double-check the names of best contacts and their job titles.

Six steps to planning and executing your direct mail campaign

The Money Is In The Mailing Listed

With your targeted prospect list in hand, you can go forward with your direct mail campaign. Here are the steps.

Choose a calendar and use it to plan your annual direct mail campaign.

I don’t recommend a particular calendar, but I will point out that because a direct marketing campaign will involve a team of sales, management and marketing staff, it makes sense to use a format that can be shared. An online calendar is great, but you could also tack large monthly calendars on your conference room wall to create a big picture of the entire year.

Decide how many direct marketing messages you will send in a year.

Direct marketing is not a one-hit wonder, especially when its aim is to attract new clients and customers. Consider each direct mail piece a brick that is needed to build your business. All of the experts, me included, say it will take 8 to 10 direct mail messages over a year’s time to make a potential client familiar with your company.

Decide when your direct mail will be sent.

Gather your team and talk about times of the year when important information and ideas should be relayed to prospects. If you run a nonprofit, end-of-the-year messages about the power of giving are a must. If your business sells uniforms to Little League baseball teams, you’ll want to send info to coaches well before teams form and practices begin in the spring. Make sure every piece of direct mail has a purpose and call to action.

Choose your direct marketing delivery methods.

Direct mail offers a mix of formats, and to pique your potential customers’ interest, it is best to use a variety of them. If possible, personalize pieces by using software programs that allow you to use handwriting fonts or add the recipient’s name. Even as your direct mail pieces vary, use the same font, colors, logo and design aesthetic so that your potential client starts to visually recognize your company and its messages.

Try these direct mail formats:

  1. Postcards. The most cost effective and best read because there’s no envelope to open. Messages must be short and sweet and can announce new developments, events, special offers.
  2. Self-mailers. These folded pieces are often educational in nature, perhaps focusing on a particular aspect or service. They include more information and photos and are often several pages in length.
  3. Letters If you are going to send a letter, make it stand out in some way. Use a different-size envelope, a greeting card–find a way to make your direct mail piece break out from the pile of business-size envelopes.
  4. Customized mailers. Send your prospects something in a small box and you will definitely get their attention. Any mailing that is three dimensional will get more notice; of course, it will cost more as well, but sometimes, if the idea is clever and on target, the money will be well spent.

Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind as you plan your direct marketing campaign.

There’s nothing worse than the same-old, same-old in our mailboxes. If you want to get your prospective client’s attention, you will need to make your direct mail different. That will probably take some discussions with your creative team or your advertising agency. Adopt the attitude that no idea is too off-the-wall and you are bound to come up with something interesting. It doesn’t always have to be complicated–perhaps your company has a new piece of equipment that is cool looking in an industrial way. Put an eye-catching image of the piece on a large postcard and, n the flip side, tell your prospects exactly what this cool piece of machinery could do for them.

Or, instead of a typical sales letter, find a news article that is pertinent to the industry you are pursuing and send the article, with a post-it note that looks hand-written, that says you thought the prospect might like to read this. Think about the things you’ve gotten in the mail that you remembered or that made an impression. For example, I once got a box of $1 bills—100 of them—from a company that wanted me to invest with their firm. I never forgot it. Make sure that every piece of mail you send a prospect educates them and reinforces your company’s identity. If it also intrigues and entertains them, all the better.

Give your targeted mailing list a try

As long as the mailing list is strong and targeted, a direct mail campaign will expand the customer base for any company’s product or service. Identifying the best prospects is key, as I said at the very beginning. I’ll also remind you that this approach will not reap success overnight. Remember, it requires persistence, and another P-word, patience. Building business relationships is a process. But if you get on this path, you will see rewards.

So prepare to be the turtle, not the hare, and remember, as some wise person once said, “Direction is so much more important than speed. Many are going nowhere fast.”

You should have seen the look on my face.

I was at the gym, sweating my ass off on the treadmill when I felt the buzz in my pocket.

Bobbing up and down, I frantically reached for my phone nearly dropping it in the process… hoping, praying, pleading the buzz was a notification for what I thought it was…

When my eyes focused in on the micro-copy sitting pretty on my home screen, it was exactly what I had hoped for. But, it took me stepping off the adult hamster wheel for it to fully register.

The buzz was notifying me that I had made my very first sale of my copywriting guide. This was a monumental moment for me because it marked the first time I had sold a product online.

And, more importantly, via email.

The Money Is In The Mailing Lists

It always seemed too good to be true… making money sending emails, that is.

I always thought it was smoke internet marketers would blow up your ass to sell you an email course about making money selling email courses.

(We’ve all seen those).

However, as I used cold email early on to build my creative writing shop by selling my writing & marketing services directly to brands, I became less skeptical.

The money is in the mailing listing

My formula was simple…

I’d scour the internet for a brand I wanted to work with, hunt down the email address of the CMO and send them a compelling email on why they should hire me to write for them.

I’d do this again and again and again and eventually, something magical happened… I had a pretty hefty book of clients.

While this made me realize you could make an assload of money sending emails, I knew I needed a more effective way to generate new business.

This realization ultimately led me to email marketing.

Email marketing is cold emailing on steroids.

At your job, you’ve surely sent out plenty of cold emails. And unless, you can’t string a decent sentence together, there is a good chance you’ve received a response to the cold emails you’ve sent.

Humans are much more compelling than they realize and in a world where the average worker spends nearly a third of their workday in their email inbox… all of us are email marketers.

The Money Is In The Mailing Listing


The only problem is that most of us aren’t firing off enough emails to see any monumental results as far as sales go.

Let me explain…

Back when I was doing a shit ton of cold emailing, I realized if I didn’t figure out a more effective way to email, I’d be cold emailing for the rest of my life to generate business.

(This is 100% okay if you have a massive team of business development representatives, but being that Honey Copy was and still is a one man band… I had a time crisis on my hands).

So, I began studying two of the greatest direct mail copywriters to ever do it… Gary Halbert and Joseph Sugarman.


If you’re not familiar with direct mail copywriting, it’s when folks send out identical sales letters to a large chunk of people.

It’s not unlike door-to-door sales, except it’s one door-to-door salesman with some serious ink slinging skills, selling to thousands of people at the same time with writing, rather than face to face.

Doesn’t sound all that dissimilar to email, does it?

Email marketing my way to $26,000.

As I began learning the tactics direct mail copywriters use to get folks to read their sales letters all the way to the bottom and ultimately buy whatever it is they’re selling… I realized I could apply this to email marketing.

Instead of going door to door, emailing one person at a time… if I built up a large list of email addresses, I could send out “cold emails” to thousands of inboxes versus just one.

However, there was only one problem, I didn’t have a list of email subscribers at the time.

So, to build one, I started a weekly newsletter called Sticky Notes, where I promised folks an email chalked full of marketing and copywriting tips delivered straight to their inbox (for free).

Here, here, here, here and here are all examples of previous emails I’ve sent out to my list –– as you can tell, it’s extremely valuable and there is a great deal of time and thought that goes into each email.

This, in my opinion, is what sets email marketing apart from direct mail copywriting… to gain your reader’s trust and ultimately buil your list, you must first give them something highly valuable for free.

Then, eventually, you can start selling them on whatever the hell it is you’re selling…

This is where a lot of email marketers get it wrong. They attempt to cram sales down their subscribers throats, without gifting them anything of value and as a result, they build a list that isn’t very engaged.

Both of my email lists are quite small. Sticky Notes is roughly 6,000 subscribers and Stranger than fiction (another email newsletter I started), is a little over 500 subscribers.

Yet, despite this size, I’ve been able to sell $26,000 worth of my copywriting guide and generate tons of new writing projects for Honey Copy.

And, I don’t have to cold email anymore (unless I stumble upon a brand I’m really digging).

One misconception when it comes to email marketing is that you must have a HUGE list for it to be worthwhile.

This is bullshit.

Most brands with massive lists don’t have high engagement. In fact, the average open rates are somewhere between 15% - 25% and click-through rates sit somewhere around 2.5%.

(The latter is the percentage of people that click on the links in your email).

Stranger than fiction, on the other hand, has a 55% open rate and an 18.3% click-through rate…

Now with all that said, here’s how you can start building a small highly-engaged list…

How you can start making money sending emails, too.

Quickly, here are steps you can take to ramp up your email marketing…

One, begin by finding a solid email software. If you’re just starting out, I highly recommend Email Octopus. It’s the cheapest, easiest to use email software available.

I personally use MailChimp because it has a few more tools that Email Octopus doesn’t offer. This isn’t a bad option either. Though, it is much more expensive.

Two, come up with a damn good weekly newsletter with a very clear, valuable offer… if you run a plant shop a solid newsletter would be… “Weekly Greens: one email sent once a week that’ll help you keep your plants happy, healthy and thriving.”

Three, create a tiered pricing model. In other words, a higher-priced product or service for subscribers with deeper pockets and a lower-priced product or service for those just wanting to get their feet wet.

At Honey Copy, if folks have larger budgets they can hire me to write directly for them. But, if they don’t want to spend a lot of money, they can buy my copywriting guide.

To revisit the plant shop example, they might charge $500+ to decorate an entire home with house plants and offer that as their higher-priced service and for their lower-priced service, they might sell a $29 succulent care course.

Four, trim your unengaged subscribers. On both my newsletters, I’m notorious for removing subscribers when they stop opening. I’ve removed hundreds. I will always choose a smaller more engaged list over a larger one. I think you should do the same. It’s cheaper and improves deliverability rates.

Five, practice consistency with your newsletter. Show up every single week, over and over and over again. Do it for an entire year.

The Money Is In The Mailing List

Email has been good to me and I think it could be good for you, too.

But, I digress.

By Cole Schafer.

You gotta check this out -- Sticky Notes is my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.