My business needs a steady supply of new customers. Yours does
too, probably. Customers leave and go with competitors.
Customers go out of business. Customers fall away without a word
of explanation. So I need—you need—a regular supply of new
customers to replace the ones that disappear each year.
The challenge in business-to-business direct mail is knowing
where to look for new business. You need a source of potential
new clients that is reliable and affordable. A source that will
give you the contact information you need to send a direct mail
package to prospective customers who need, want and can afford
what you offer.
At a minimum, any source of names should supply the following
for each lead:
First name, last name Job title Company name Address (sometimes
on two lines) City Province or state Postal code or zip code
Other details that are nice to know: SIC Code (Standard Industry
Classification) Industry by name Size of company (in number of
employees or sales volume) Telephone number Email address
Business type (manufacturing, services, consulting) Job function
(engineer, owner, purchasing, management) Purchasing authority
Budget Geographic region (international region, country, state)
Where to find names of potential customers:
Associations There is an Association of Legal Administrators.
There is an association for social workers who specialize in
helping people with cancer (Association of Oncology Social
Work). There is an association for manufacturers of fasteners in
the mid-west of the United States (The Mid-West Fastener
If your target audiences is a niche market, the first place to
look for potential customers is trade associations. These
associations (local, regional, national, international) often
rent lists of names of their members
Trade publications Most industries have a trade journal. You are
familiar, of course, with Frozen Food Age, Industrial Hygiene
News, Eyecare Business and Waste News. These trade publications
and most others also rent the names of their subscribers.
Trade directories You could look in the phone book. Or you could
look in the Organic Export Directory, a compilation of contact
names for companies that export organic food products. The more
narrow the field, the more likely it is to have its own
directory of companies in the industry. Some of these
directories are in print, and some are online as well.
List brokers List brokers are specialists who help one company
use the list of another company. Their services include
research, selection and recommendation of lists. A list broker,
for example, would search on your behalf for lists that meet
your unique criteria. There is a Hospitality/Travel
Professionals list. And a Firefighters Bookstore list (people
who have purchased from Firefighters Bookstore). And a Federal
Student Aid Schools list (28,994 schools that provide federally
financed aid to their attendees).
House list Your best source of new business is your database of
current and lapsed customers, otherwise known as your house
list. Getting business from a current customer is always less
expensive than getting business from a new customer.
Government For some products and services, another excellent
source of potential clients is the government. I have a number
of clients who buy mailing lists from their state governments
and use them to mail offers to businesses that are in their
target audience. One client buys the names of dentists and
dental hygienists whose licenses are about to expire, and mails
those prospects a direct mail piece that promotes the client’s
continuing education courses (which prospects need to take and
pass to renew their licenses). Another client buys the names of
garages in his state who conduct state-mandated vehicle safety
inspections. He mails them direct mail pieces that promote his
software product, which is designed specifically for these
Keep in mind that the most important part of any
business-to-business direct mail lead generation campaign is the
list. You can have a great product, a terrific offer and the
best timing, but if you mail to the wrong people, well, you know
what happens. So make sure you get the best list you can.