New customers and where to find them.Written by Alan Sharpe
My business needs a steady supply of new customers. Yours does too, probably. Customers leave and go with competitors. Customers go out of business. Customers fall away without a word of explanation. So I need—you need—a regular supply of new customers to replace ones that disappear each year.
The challenge in business-to-business direct mail is knowing where to look for new business. You need a source of potential new clients that is reliable and affordable. A source that will give you contact information you need to send a direct mail package to prospective customers who need, want and can afford what you offer.
At a minimum, any source of names should supply following for each lead:
First name, last name Job title Company name Address (sometimes on two lines) City Province or state Postal code or zip code
Other details that are nice to know: SIC Code (Standard Industry Classification) Industry by name Size of company (in number of employees or sales volume) Telephone number Email address Business type (manufacturing, services, consulting) Job function (engineer, owner, purchasing, management) Purchasing authority Budget Geographic region (international region, country, state)
Where to find names of potential customers:
Associations There is an Association of Legal Administrators. There is an association for social workers who specialize in helping people with cancer (Association of Oncology Social Work). There is an association for manufacturers of fasteners in mid-west of United States (The Mid-West Fastener Association).
If your target audiences is a niche market, first place to look for potential customers is trade associations. These associations (local, regional, national, international) often rent lists of names of their members
Trade publications Most industries have a trade journal. You are familiar, of course, with Frozen Food Age, Industrial Hygiene News, Eyecare Business and Waste News. These trade publications and most others also rent names of their subscribers.
Trade directories You could look in phone book. Or you could look in Organic Export Directory, a compilation of contact names for companies that export organic food products. The more narrow field, more likely it is to have its own directory of companies in industry. Some of these directories are in print, and some are online as well.
Wondering “Where’s My Mail?” You’re Not AloneWritten by Ted D. Seward
When it comes to measuring success and failure of traditional direct mail, nothing excites marketers more than tangible data revealing reality of what occurred or did not. An example of this is mail tracking — hardly a new concept, but one that is gaining popularity among mailers who can accurately predict in-home arrival by aggregating delivery data. Retailers can now include direct mail advertising in connection with their local campaigns. This data is not only traceable, but actionable: by tracking your mailing campaigns, you can better measure and improve your campaigns’ effectiveness.
Traditionally, mailers have relied on back-end process to verify their success. Mail tracking allows you to coordinate multiple-tier marketing programs, with direct mail serving as jumping-off point. This new technology allows you to successfully implement timed triggers for direct mail response via telemarketing, or initiate additional waves to forge even stronger customer connections.
By closely monitoring campaigns, mailers can more fully determine which concepts work best and maximize their investments with better follow-through. All of this makes it entirely feasible that direct mail will maintain its position as a premier channel for coupons and daily specials, and preferred method for one-to-one communications.
So what is mail tracking? You might be familiar with list seeding or other services that can assist in mail tracking, but United States Postal Service’s Confirm program is more robust: directly integrated with USPS process, it is fast achieving prominence among mailers looking for tracking resources with broad-based, real-world utility. Confirm allows mailers to identify and track individual mail by placing a PLANET Code on mailpiece. (The PLANET Code is similar to traditional POSTNET barcode format; only difference is a reversal of long and short bars.)
How does it work? The PLANET Code is typically placed in address block of letter, flat or periodical mailpiece. This PLANET code is scanned and logged by postal equipment at various points as it traverses postal system. The postal equipment records PLANET Code, POSTNET barcode, processing facility, sort operation code, and processing date and time.
Once scan is read, data is distributed electronically. This data can indicate where a particular piece is located in system and provide reliable estimates of delivery to customer. PLANET Codes can be used on reply mail as well. The first time I mentioned this to a catalogue professional, his response was enthusiastic: “Wow — you mean I can better predict staffing levels needed to process orders when they are received?"
Here are just a few examples of how PLANET Code tracking can work for you. Imagine tracking outbound high-value items — invoices, for example — as well as inbound payments they generate. This system works equally well for outbound check payments, too.
(An aside: This solution would have come in handy early in my mailing career. My major-mailer employer was once accused of not processing (or worse, stealing) a customer’s check run, primarily because only portions of entire job were missing and other checks from same run were cashed after weeks of back and forth with USPS and a major local government office, missing portion of mail was found locked in a vault at local municipality’s processing facility. One little PLANET Code, matched back to Postnet would have indicated that two trays of “check sequenced” mail were missing not two trays of “sorted mail.” A PLANET Code on just some of these pieces would have indicated that mail had never been received by my company and/or delivered to Post Office — resolving problem weeks earlier. No blame would have been wrongly bestowed on us, processing company, and unfortunate recipients of these checks would have received their funds much sooner.)