Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.


Power Direct Marketing: The Book

The Building Source: Compiled Lists

The fabric of society is forever changing—more so today than ever before. Experience shows that most business lists change at a rate of 25%–35% annually. (My own very informal and totally non-scientific survey of marketing people shows that that group churns even faster—40%–70% each year.) Thus, no mailing list is ever perfect. Like the telephone book, it’s wrong the day it comes off the press.

And yet compiled lists offer you opportunities to reach your select audience possibly better than any other source.

Compiled lists are built lists. You build them or someone else builds them. They come from scores of sources, and depending on your needs, your product and offer, they may be just right for you.

The compiled list category is the largest of the three—house, response, and compiled. Because you can build names from just about any source. It has been estimated there are lists in America which total 500 billion people. Obviously, many lists with the same people many times over.

Compiled lists come from many places. Here are a few:

  • Government information directory publishers
  • Telephone company data credit reports
  • Trade associations annual reports
  • And, almost any source where information is collected.

From compiled lists you know only what you know about the source and not much more. If they were compiled from an association directory of members of a specific organization, you know whatever characteristics are available on that group. Nothing else.

If they were compiled from automobile registrations, you know the type and make and model and year of car—with whatever additional "feelings" that tells you, and not much more. You can overlay demographic data available from census information and improve your knowledge level about this particular prospect list.

Psychographic data is also obtainable from some consumer lists by doing careful selection within specific categories and then matching.

Overlays with business lists are a little tough—you can usually get name, title, company, division, mailing address, and telephone number.

Many times you can add SIC code, which does allow you to greatly increase your knowledge base. And within some lists you can then obtain company-specific data, piece-by-piece. Many business and professional publications make their subscriber lists available for rent. They can be an excellent list source. Their lists are cleaned regularly by the publication mailing and other direct mail usage. They also provide the opportunity to complement advertising programs with select direct mail.

When evaluating lists for possible use, consider these points:

  1. How often is the list updated?
  2. What are the sources of names on the list? Are they customers or buyers? Subscribers to a magazine? Is the list personalized by name and title? Are the names those of companies only, drawn from a source such as the Yellow Pages?
  3. How often is the list used? Does the list owner make regular mailings to the list? For example, a magazine or promotional mailings to buyers?
  4. Is there any "independent" means of insuring the list quality? Business publication lists are subject to audit. This means names of qualified readers must be verifiable. Is this possible with this list you are ready to use?
  5. What selections are available? Are there psychographic, demographic, and/or geographic selections available?
  6. Be sure the list is in postal code order so you can benefit from reduced postal rates.
  7. Ask for a sample of the mailing label or dump of the magnetic tape.
  8. Because of their immense value to their owner, most lists are made available for one time rental only. Some compiled lists are sold outright or for multiple use over a set time. How is this list available?
  9. What type of company/organization uses the list? A good list owner will usually not disclose the names of other clients, but will let you know the types of businesses who have used it.
  10. Is there a protected mailing date—in other words, will "x" number of other mailings be done to the same list the same week your mailing is done?
  11. Are the list counts accurate?
  12. Keep records of cutoff points on list tests. The reorder may require you to start where you left off.
  13. Confirm all details of your mailing list order in writing, including delivery date.

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