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Mailing Lists: 11 Places to buy a Direct Mail List, Part II

Mailing Lists: 11 Places to buy a Direct Mail List, Part II

By Jeffrey Dobkin

In the first of this two article set, you learned what different kinds of lists are available, and the two best resources for buying mailing lists. In this part II of this article, we’re pleased to discuss the other 9 places to buy a mailing list.

3. Trade Associations Mailing Lists

Trade Associations are unusually excellent sources of mailing lists. Better associations always include the industry’s top major players. Local associations like the local Chamber of Commerce in your area are usually good for a mailing list of local business names. You can select your mailing list criteria 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 ColumbiaHouse Books, Inc. (888-265-0600; publishers of the State and Regional Associations Directory and The National Trade and Professional Associations of the United States. Mailing lists of the associations are available on labels or download.

Association mailing lists and data are also available in the giant reference Encyclopedia of Associations by The Gale Group (800-877-GALE) on disk, CD, and on-line through Lexis-Nexis. This hard bound, three-volume set is the mother load of associations – showing detailed information on more than 23,000 local, state, national, and international associations. If you need a mailing list from an association, if you can’t find it in here, you can’t find it.

4. Trade Shows Mailing Lists

Trade show lists are also great marketing tools. You can usually buy mailing lists of both attendees and of exhibitors. Check out two great websites: and for trade show information. The Tradeshow Week Data Book (213-965-5300) is a great tool published by the editors of Tradeshow Week Magazine.

5. Mailing List Resources: List Reference Tools

Two excellent resources for investigating lists at the library are the SRDS Direct Marketing List Source™ and the Oxbridge Communications National Directory of Mailing Lists (800-955-0231). We use both of these huge directories of mailing lists in our own office – they’re thorough and easy to use. These reference tools are each about the size of the Manhattan phone book and contain nothing but mailing list data: who owns what mailing list, number of records in each, source of names and, mailing list pricing. Both tools are available in major libraries.

6. Mailing List Brokers

Mailing list brokers are found in the 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 (Please see our article “12 questions to ask a mailing list vendor,” by Jeffrey Dobkin, author). While you pay the broker, he actually works for the list owner – so take that into consideration when you ask questions and negotiate price.

A plethora of mailing list managers and mailing lists owners can be found in the direct mail trade magazines such as Multichannel Merchant Magazine: 203/358-9900, Target Marketing: 215/238-5300, and DM News: 212/741-2095.

7. Catalogs of Mailing Lists

Some list brokers are huge and have their own catalog of mailing lists. Some of these mailing list catalogs are over 100 pages long! Some catalogs of mailing lists are handy reference tools that will give you an idea of just what’s out there – what kind of lists are available and counts of how many records exist in the thousands of different mailing list categories. Please see our article on mailing list titled, “Free Catalogs of Mailing Lists,” by author Jeffrey Dobkin.

Want to know how many dentists there are? It’s a piece of cake: 190,168 are members of the ADA. Want to know if there is a mailing list of picky ale drinkers? Find the mailing list of “Ale in the Mail-Continuity Members:” 70,973 of them. Selling an accounting product? Try the mailing list from the Accounting Institute Seminar Attendees – all 78,634 of them. Looking for college professors? Did you want the 43,347 who teach English, or the 18,184 who teach history, or the 8,477 in marketing, or the 9,194 philosophy teachers, or the…

If you need additional information – like how many doctors who specialize in allergies and are the head of their practice with four or more employees can be found in Pennsylvania – call any of these catalog houses and ask them to run a mailing list count with those parameters. You’ll be able to get that information in about ten minutes. Hugo Dunhill: 800/223-6454, American Business Lists: 800/555-5335, and Edith Roman: 800/223-2194 to name just a few. More phone numbers for mailing list brokers can be found in my books Uncommon Marketing Techniques and How To Market A Product For Under $500!

8. Lists on CD

Several companies now offer lists of every business or every person in the U.S. on CD-ROM. These products allow you to create your own list criteria and generate your own precisely targeted mailing lists. Some of the better programs make it easy and fast to use their CD-ROM products.

9. Internet

One of the best resources for lists is the Internet. There’s no getting around it now, the Internet is here to stay — you might as well get used to it. It’s a great – probably the best – research tool available for almost anything, if you can filter out the crap from the good stuff. But… isn’t that the way with all research tools: you gotta figure out which is the good stuff that you can use, and which is the bad stuff that you’ve just spent the last two hours looking over and have now figured out is pretty worthless. Yea, the Internet is like that – in spades.

10. The Enemy

You’d be surprised how many of your competitors will sell your their customers’ names to mail to. If not competitors, how about asking other businesses who serve your market if you can purchase their mailing lists. Warranty lists and data, registrations, some firms just seem to warehouse data that would make a great mailing list to someone.

11. House List

Of course, the best mailing list of all – bar none – is your own list of current and past customers. These are the folks that know you and trust you; they’ve experienced that great customer service you offer and are now willing to buy something else from you if you would only let them know it’s available.

Spend some extra time in this most important area – of mailing list research: tighten your mailing list criteria, do your homework, spend time in research, and find the best mailing lists you can possibly find. Then test several.

Selecting a mailing list isn’t as rewarding as generating the creative for a new glitzy 4-color brochure, or an exciting mailing package. But it shows up where it counts the most – in your bottom line. The better your mailing list, the better your response. Guaranteed.

It’s worth the extra time and money to target your audience with precision and increase the chance you’ll come up a winner at the post office. There is no single more important factor in creating a greater response to a mailing than mailing to the best possible list. Whatever you do, don’t settle for a mediocre list unless you want mediocre results. The better the mailing list, the greater the response.