12 Places to Buy a Mailing List ©2001 Jeffrey Dobkin
There are two types of lists, determined by their origin: compiled lists and response lists.
Compiled lists are a common source of names and records that have been gathered, collected, and entered into a database. The names may have been acquired through public records such as vehicle owner registrations or high school teachers. Directories, such as a directory of plant maintenance engineers, are usually compiled lists. Many lists are compiled from categories in phone books across U.S. Examples would be all photography shops or all luggage dealers in United States. Or all plumbing supply dealers.
Keep in mind that compiled information - like fish - gets old rather quickly and doesn’t age particularly well.
Response lists are data from people who have responded to an ad or who have purchased from a catalog, direct mail package, TV ad,or other offer.
With any mailing you are considering, first ask precisely what groups or what characteristics make up perfect audience. Then try to find a list that matches these definable characteristics closely.
Good delivery percentages of your mailing piece to a specific audience can usually be found in lists of magazine subscribers. These lists are usually very targeted to their audience, and good because most publishers are extremely prompt with their name and address corrections. Call a magazine publisher and ask if their subscriber list is for sale, then ask for name of their list broker.
There are over 10,000 magazines published so you can probably get a magazine subscription list that goes straight to your perfectly targeted buyers. If you’re not sure what magazines would be best, there are some easy-to-use periodical directories found in most reference libraries. The best directories of magazines are Burrelle’s Directory of Magazines (800-USMEDIA), Bacons (800-621-0561), SRDS (800-851-SRDS), and Oxbridge Communications Standard Periodical Directory (800-955-0231). If you can’t find exact targeted magazine filled with eager-to-buy-your-product subscribers you are looking for in any of these directories, publication doesn’t exist. You can find any industry - and all magazines that are sent to that industry - in under 10 minutes in these useful directories.
Catalog houses earn a good portion of their revenue from sale of their lists. Call catalog and ask for their business office, then ask who handles their list sales. Almost all catalog houses sell their lists. Catalog houses can be found in Catalog of Catalogs from Woodbine House Publications (www.woodbinehouse.com; 800-843-7323; $28.95 PPD), and The Directory of Mail Order Catalogs from Grey House Publishing (www.greyhouse.com; 800-562-2139; $250).
Trade associations are usually an excellent source of mailing lists. Better associations always list industry’s major players. Local associations like Chamber of Commerce in your area are usually good for local business names. You can select by business size, number of employees, SIC code (the government’s industry classification of each business), or any of a multitude of other selection parameters. Two great sources for finding associations are reference books from Columbia Books, Inc. (888-265-0600; www.columbiabooks.com) publishers of State and Regional Associations Directory ($79) and The National Trade and Professional Associations of United States ($99). Mailing lists of associations are $100/M and are available on labels or disk.
Association lists and data are also available in Encyclopedia of Associations by The Gale Group (800-877-GALE) on disk, CD, and on-line through Lexis-Nexis. This hardbound, three-volume set ($505) is motherload of associations - showing detailed information on more than 23,000 local, state, national, and international associations.
Trade show lists are also great marketing tools - lists of both attendees and of exhibitors. Check out two great websites: www.tscentral.com and www.tradeshowweek.com for trade show information. The Tradeshow Week Data Book (213-965-5300; $355) is a great tool published by editors of Tradeshow Week Magazine. Another great trade show directory is TradeShows and Exhibits Schedule from Bill Communications (800-266-4712, 856-619-5800) - organized by industry, by location, by date, and in alphabetical order for fast look-ups.
Two excellent resources for investigating lists at library are SRDS Direct Marketing List Source™ (800-851-SRDS) and Oxbridge Communications National Directory of Mailing Lists (800-955-0231). We use both in our own office - they’re thorough and exceptionally easy to use. These reference tools are each about size of Manhattan phone book and contain nothing but list data: who owns what list, number of records in each, source of names and, list pricing. Both tools are available in major libraries.
List brokers are found in phone book in every major city. They can be heaven, supplying incredible information, or hell, looking for that fast buck. Make sure you ask tons of questions before handing over any money. While you pay broker, he actually works for list owner - so take that into consideration when you ask questions and negotiate price.