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Targeted Business Mailing Lists Avoiding the 5 List Buying Hazards!

Posted by Brian Berg Google+


Whether you buy mailing list data regularly or you are considering a direct marketing initiative for the first time, your options for acquiring B2B sales leads are vast.  To the untrained list buyer, avoiding common mistakes can mean the difference between a steady flow of new customers and an expensive lead generation expense you’d consider never investing in again.


Below are Five hazards with buying targeted business mailing lists and how to navigate around making these common sales-lead-buying mistakes.


B2B List Buying Hazard # 1 – Compiled vs. Response Data


The vast majority of Business to Business data providers will repackage a segment of a compiled B2B database, and label it as their own ‘managed’ database.   While a compiled B2B file is regarded as a good source for all businesses in America, often marketing professionals will pay a higher than normal price for this product is presented as a “response file”.


To avoid this hazard of paying a higher than average price for compiled data, be sure to asked detailed specific questions about the sourcing of the database you’re considering mailing.  Regardless of the description and title, ask if the file is a compiled file and get it in writing.  Be sure you fully understand source of the file before using it to target your prospective audience.  If the datacard says ‘compiled’, it usually is compiled.  Again, nothing wrong with a compiled list, but don’t get fooled paying response-file pricing for a compiled database.   


B2B List Buying Hazard # 2 – Duplicates Galore

There’s no getting around it; B2B lists contain many duplicates.  Whether a business owner has more than one business under the same roof, or sharing the same phone number, duplicates exist on all business to business files and understanding the nature of this is key to removing those you do not want to mail twice. 


When ordering business list data, be sure to remove any business records that share the same phone number.  That’s the first easiest way to remove most of the duplicate records that may not be found with the naked eye.  Secondly, be sure to use Excel and dedupe on the address and company name.  This will ensure you’re removing any and all potential for mailing multiple mail pieces to the business decision maker.


B2B List Buying Hazard # 3 – Only Decision Makers Make Decisions


Many marketers assume that each business location has a primary decision maker and that that person is the decision maker for their product or service.  They order a mailing list to include an individual by title, but get a poor response.  The hazard is that many times, the title they have chosen isn’t really the person no long makes those kinds of decisions, or not making the buying decision for their product or service at all.  Or even worse, the person no longer works at that business location, or is now employed elsewhere.  In the latter case, the mail recipient will toss the mail into the trash and all possible communication is lost.


The remedy for Hazard #3 is to not include a name at that business location, but rather address the mail piece to the Business and include either the title only, and/or include a short directory on the mail piece located just to the left of where the mailing address will be sprayed.  This short directory could include 3 or 4 potential options for routing the mail to the correct individual.  May 3 or 4 small bullet pointed options such as; Employee Insurance Director, Employee Insurance Decision Maker, Human Resources.  Doing so will give the person who receives the mail a guide as to who best to forward the mail, and eliminating the chance of forwarding to the wrong person all together.


They know that not all will buy, but if they could just get the ear of the boss, they might have a chance.  The truth is that too often the decision maker someone other than who they are targeting. 


B2B List Buying Hazard # 4 – Avoid Non-Responsive Business Prospects

Too often, marketers will attempt to narrow their audience during the list buying process by selecting Sales Revenue or Employee Size, but in doing so, only will partially identify the right direct mail audience.  As an example, they will select businesses with employee size 20 + employee’s for a product or service designed established businesses.  But about the businesses with 1,000 + employee’s?  Would the message mailed to the 20 employee sized business be effective for a business employing more than 1,000 employee’s? 


Decisions made at larger businesses are considerably different than those of a smaller business.  It’s simply a fact that the process of making a purchase is different.  Larger enterprises are usually handled by a department or team.  The planning process for expansion, inventory management, vendor swapping, etc. is far greater with a larger business than a smaller one. 


Therefore, the message you send to one such larger business should be crafted with this knowledge.  Sharpen your target’ability by segmenting your audience by size, and delivering a different message to each.  Smaller businesses might emphasize the ease-of-use and price, while a larger business might emphasize scalability, training, superior service for enterprise level customers.


B2B List Buying Hazard # 5 – Primary SIC Code Only?


Many times, when selecting the types of businesses you want to reach, you will choose these businesses by identifying those with the SIC code groupings ideal for your products and services.  While this works great in dividing all the businesses to similar categories, many sales managers neglect to select “Primary SIC Code” only.  They forget, or do not realize, that many businesses have secondary and tertiary SIC Codes.  As an example, if you’re looking to reach printers and neglect to select Primary SIC codes only, often, your list may include things like Package and Shipping Stores since they also offer the use of an office laser copier.


The remedy is simple, select (or ask for) Primary SIC Codes only.  This ensures you will be mailing more accurately to businesses with the greatest potential for buying your products and services.


I hope this list of 5 Hazards to buying B2B Lists was helpful in better targeting your best direct marketing audience.  It’s not ‘he who mails most’, but ‘he who mails best’.