How To Ruin Your Mail Order/MLM Business In One Easy Step! (written August, 2010)

Last month my oil delivery guy dropped 215 gallons of oil into my tank – yes we here in the northeast heat our homes with oil – after he gave me the bill, I thought it was a little high, so I asked him about it. He told me that he had to raise his prices because his insurance went up, his cost of doing business has risen and blah, blah, blah – so I paid him.

It kind of left a bad taste in my mouth though so I looked in the prior week’s newspaper and saw at least 5 different oil delivery guys. So I decided to call them and get their price and lo and behold, the first four I called were cheaper. So I canceled my automatic delivery I had from my previous guy and got my next oil delivery from this new guy and saved myself $56! Not bad!

What’s my point you ask? What has this got to do with my Mail Order/MLM Business? What’s this got to do with ruining my business in one easy step? OK enough with the questions, I’ll get to the point. When you are buying oil, you shop price. Oil is oil. But a mailing list is not just a mailing list. A mailing list will make or break your advertising promotion. A mailing list is your life blood. So when I get a call shopping prices on mailing lists that just boggles my mind. Do you shop heart doctors when you need work done to your heart? You see I know the person who just called me shopping price is not going to be in our wonderful business this time next year. Shopping a mailing list by price is the quickest and easiest way to ruin your business in one easy step.

Not all mailing lists are the same. And everybody and his uncle are selling mailing lists. Where do you go? That’s the million dollar question!

Ho hum – you get involved in a mail order or Multi-Level business and what is the first thing everybody recommends you to do? Go out and rent a mailing list. No one tells you about all the misleading ads out there. No one tells you how “cut throat” the mailing list industry is. No one tells you anything about mailing lists, so basically you are ripe to be had. You are a sheep ready to be devour by wolves. Would you agree?

Let me first say that no mailing list can work miracles and that you can have a good mailing list and a good offer that does not work. That does happen. So when you do a mailing yourself, the two “key” ingredients to that mailing are #1) the offer and #2) the list. We’ll assume you have a good proven offer, so let’s move on to the next step – the list. Your best list will always be your own homegrown in-house list of customers and inquiries – always!! But if this “circle of names” does not exist for you, then what would be your next best list? Someone else’s homegrown in-house list of customers and inquires – right? Somebody promoting something similar to what you are promoting – right? Make sense so far?  Well then why order a mailing list unless it was that kind of list? Wouldn’t you pay top dollar for a list like this? So why shop price?

99% of mailing list companies that have many ways of capturing names claim their names are fresh. Unfortunately these are compiled names. They compile names from people they get offers from in the mail. They purchase the envelopes of other people’s offers that they get in the mail. They trade names with other mailing list dealers. Anybody can do this kind of mailing list renting – anybody. However the key to a mailing list that is almost as good as yours is finding a mailing list company that only rents names of their real inquiries and their real customers. This is easier said than done….

The mailing list industry, whether you know it or not, is very cut throat. Every mailing list dealer claims to have the best mailing list for your offer. Most mailing list dealers also claim that every other mailing list dealer’s names are worthless. Whose names are “best” then? Who should you listen to? If everyone claims to have the best names and that everyone else’s are worthless, what should the “layperson” do? I mean let’s face it, one 1,000 piece mailing of a great offer to a crappy mailing list will set you back $550 bux! Can you afford to lose that kind of bling on a lesson that I am teaching you right here for free? Only if you are willing to listen.

Before I continue, I hope you realize that it is in my best interest to teach you what to look for to determine what list you think is best. Why? Because I rent mailing lists and if you lose big money mailing to a crappy list, you’ll probably be disgusted and drop out of this industry. I probably wouldn’t blame you. However if you rent good names, like mine are, you‘ll be back to order more and continue to be successful in this wonderful industry. Think about this – the most important element are good quality names. Good quality names will generate business for your offer and more business for the mailing list dealer himself. That is called a good mail order economy. Unfortunately since most mailing list dealers I have found are renting poor names, your offer bombs, the mailing list industry doesn’t get re-orders and the program you are promoting suffers. There is nothing good about mailing to crappy names – nothing! So what should you look for then? Good question!

Unfortunately as I look at mailing list ads daily, I can easily see that there is no way you have a chance at finding a mailing list company that provides those types of names.  In fact I know of only one guy other than myself that rents these types of names and I am not even sure if he is still around anymore as I never see his ads anywhere. Well who really cares? Every mailing list company will claim to have the best names available, but now you know that you only want to mail to their real customers and their real inquiries – no compiled names, no traded names, etc. No matter what anybody claims. So the first and only question I ask when I rent someone else’s names is “Do You Mail To Them Yourself?” I do not care about anything other than whether they are their customer names and/or inquiry names and whether they mail to them or not. In the money making opportunity business, these should be your only requirements when renting a mailing list.

What was that you just ask? Why is it important that the mailing list company be mailing to the same names they rent to you? Is that a trick question or are you kidding? If someone is telling you they have the best names around and they are customer and inquiry lists, and they are not mailing to these quality names regularly, you do not find that a bit odd? I mentioned above the best names you can ever find are your own inquiry and customer names. If you had a list of these types of names, you would not be mailing to them regularly? Therefore if a mailing list company is trying to tell you they have a great list of money making opportunity names, wouldn’t it make sense (and then dollars) for them to be mailing their own mailing list offers to these names and not only renting these names to you so you could sell your money making plan to, but also so these people recommend the mailing list dealer they have been getting mailings from. That does not make any sense? And then dollars? Lots of them?

Let me give you an example: Joe answers my ad for free money making information. I send him a pack of my offers as well as rent his name to others. He decides to join into one of these offers he’s been getting. Lo and behold, when he joins, his upline contacts him.  He asks his upline where to get mailing lists? He says Uncle L. Joe says wow, I have been getting stuff from Uncle L., but I did not know he was a good trusted and reliable mailing list source. You see in this example, the upline who rented my names in the first place, became my “unofficial” partner because his new downliners who joined already know who I am. Isn’t this example then true for all mailing list companies? Next time you rent a mailing list, just ask, “Do you mail to them?” If they don’t for whatever reasons they give, pass up on them. You’ll ruin your business in one quick and easy step!

How do you check to validate and verify whether someone mails to the same names he is renting to you? Easy. Send a request to receive his mailing list information and code your name in a unique way that only the mailing list company has it. Wait and see how many mailings you get from him and how many times he rents your name. If you only get one mailing from him, how good could his names actually be? If the mailing list dealer does not have any faith in mailing to his own names on a regular basis, how can you?

Here are other important factors that you should look for……

#1) Only deal with a company that offers a first class mail refund guarantee of all nixies (returns). If a mailing list dealer really has a good quality active list, why would he not offer you first class postage as a refund? You will always get nixies, but a worthless guarantee is ten new names for every nixie. If you got a poor response from the 1st list you rented and a lot of nixies, why would you want any more names for this source? Conversely if a mailing list dealer is truly keeping a “tight” list, why wouldn’t he want to pay for whatever nixies you may get, so he can update his list also? He’ll be saving his own postage when he mails to his list regularly. If the list is good, you’ll be back to pay for more. Free names for bad names does not sound like the type of company I want to do business with.

#2) You will get nixies. How many? Depends. People move at a rate of about 4% monthly according to the post office. Therefore if you have 12% nixies, you can probably guess that this list has not been updated at all for at least 3 months. I believe, based on my own experience, anything 6% or less is acceptable. Anything 12% or more is not acceptable and anything in between 6-12% is borderline depending on the actual response I get from my mailing. Keep in mind that if a mailing list company rents you 1,000 names for $100 and they offer a 44 cents refund for each nixie, then a list that is 10% bad will cost them $44. If the list costs only $40 for 1,000 names, you can see their dilemma to give you first class postage refunds. Be careful with cheap lists. They’ll get you every time! You want a first class mail refund for nixies – period! So beware. Next time you see that great mailing list company, ask that one question to them. If the answer is no, pass up on them. You will be saving a lot of money for yourself. It is definitely worth it to pay a little more for a well targeted tight mailing list.

#3) There is no such thing as a 30 day old or less mailing list. Don’t fall for it. Most mailing lists are 6-12 months old. Just the work, the effort, the turnaround time, and the expense to actually provide you with 30 day old or less names would be cost prohibited. Even if a mailing list company could provide these types of names to you, they surely would have to charge you a small fortune for them because the value of these names would be worth their weight in gold. Most mailing list dealers get their names from other dealers, who got them from another guy, who got them from another guy, and so on. How old the names are anyway shouldn’t be your main consideration. Whether they are active or not is far more important to you. Whether they responded or not? Whether the mailing list dealer himself believes in these names enough to mail his own offers to them regularly? That’s what’s most important!

#4) Since it doesn’t matter how old they are but how active they are, how can you really figure out if names are active? Easy! Ask your friendly mailing list dealer to add your name to their money making opportunity list. Code your name in an exclusive way and sit back.  If you start getting their offers in the mail on a regular basis, you know their list is active. Why? Because if a mailing list dealer is mailing to his names, they would have to be active or he would be out of business – right? That is the real problem with most mailing list dealers. They claim to have the best lists. They claim to have active lists. But they are not mailing to them. Why? Could it be that maybe they are not that active? I know my lists are active and so do you because you are getting my mail monthly, weekly, daily for crying out loud. If I weren’t making money because they were inactive, would I be mailing to them then?

#5) Cheap lists cost you far more than the cost of the list itself. As I mentioned previously, one bad mailing of a great offer will ruin you! It costs a mailing list dealer about $2 to generate a good quality active name. So if a dealer is renting his names for $30-$40 per 1,000, it would require him to rent his list about 100 times just to break even. But if he were renting you overworked and outdated names he got from another dealer that cost him a few pennies per name, wouldn’t it only take him one or two rentals to break even? What do you think the majority of mailing list dealers are doing then?

Keep this in mind also. Your biggest expense for your mailing will always be the postage. Then the printing is second. The least expensive part of a mailing usually is the mailing list. But you know what, as I mentioned earlier, it’s the most important part and a crappy mailing list will cost you much more than the possible savings from which you could benefit. It costs the same to mail to a cheap list as it does to a high quality one. I suggest you watch out for these factors when dealing with mailing list dealers.  You can start checking with the many mailing list dealers out there, but please make sure you end with mine. You’ll see there is no comparison. Good luck with your research!

I know a lot of what I said was repetitive, but I did this for a reason. Important points will overlap. A cheap mailing list will ruin your business quickly. That doesn’t do you any good. It doesn’t do your program any justice and it hurts our entire industry!

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.