“How do we find the right prospects?” This is an age-old question every business has asked since businesses became a thing. Well, to find the right prospects, start by making sure you have a good understanding of your product or service. That might sound obvious, but it’s essential you’re asking the right questions about your product that will then help lead you down the path of understanding who your target market (prospects) might be. Here are a few high-level questions to level-set what I mean:
What is the price point? Is it higher-end? Then you likely wouldn’t want to choose a marketing list that consists of mostly lower-income individuals.
Who is it for? Is your product aimed at children? Targeting those you know that have kids would be ideal. For example, maybe you could source a list from a parenting magazine.
Where do you operate? Do you only operate in the Midwest? Make sure you’re excluding states and regions, like the coasts, that won’t be able to get your product or service.
What type of service are you offering? Is it a lawn service? You might not want to send to apartment buildings or condos (unless it’s to the building manager, of course :)). You might also consider the income levels of the areas you’re sending to; because this is a nonessential service, targeting higher income neighborhoods might be a good starting point.
You can certainly get more granular from there, especially if you’re a more established business. But in order to target the right people, you need to understand your product or service in great detail.
Keep in mind, sometimes who you think your target market should be, is not actually who they are going to be. So my other caveat is to keep an open mind about who your customers might end up being and adapt your direct marketing strategy to fit.
Testing is the Only Way to Refine Your Marketing Lists
Ultimately, how do you know you’re choosing the right marketing list? Well, you won’t know for sure until you test and measure and test some more. As with everything in direct marketing, testing is key. For example, imagine you’ve decided to target households with an annual income of $75,000 or higher. Try testing down in income segments until you find the group that stops responding—maybe you’ll find you gain a million extra prospects because it turns out the $50,000+ group responds well too! You never know, until you do.
Of course there are other factors like making sure you’re choosing good data sources (see Wes Sparling’s blog on that topic), but I won’t get into that here.
Now, once you start getting some good response and buyer data under your belt, you can go one step further and turn to companies that can help you model your data in a number of ways. There are multiple kinds of models that I won’t get into, but I have seen models be highly effective across verticals—the results can be staggering. I’ve seen responses increase by 60%+. 60%! That doesn’t mean you stop asking questions, of course. Business is nothing if not dynamic, and your customers may shift over time.
It’s also worth mentioning that it’s not just the marketing lists that matter—the messaging also has to align with the audience. You can send to the right list, but if your messaging isn’t benefit-driven and clear, it won’t matter.
So, if I had to give you a workflow of how to choose an effective marketing list I would give you this:
Ask the right questions > know your product > understand your consumer > choose lists/attributes that match your consumer > develop marketing materials that are benefit-driven and clear > test > measure > repeat
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