The Truth About Mailing Lists! (written May, 1995)

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 about $600.  Can you afford to lose $600 on a lesson that your Uncle Larry will teach you here?

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 $600 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. Think about this – the most important element in this industry 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!

Big Mistake #1) There is no such thing as the 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 type 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.

Big Mistake #2) 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 for the dealer and sit back. If you start getting their offers in the mail on a regular basis, you know their list is active. Why? I think that is obvious. 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. Yet they are not mailing to them. Why? 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 active, why would I be mailing to them?

Big Mistake #3) Refunds! Let’s face it. If a mailing list dealer really has a good quality active list, why would he not offer you first class postage as a refund? It makes me laugh about these 10-20 new names for each nixie. If you got a poor response and a lot of nixies from a list you rented, 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 they can also update their list? My theory? If you can’t get the first class cash postage refund back for nixies, then that is your big red flag that the list is worthless.

Big Mistake #4) Price of the list! 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 break you! It costs a mailing list dealer about $2 to generate an active name. So if a dealer is renting his names for $30-$40 per 1,000, it would require him to rent this list about 100 times just to break even? But if they were renting you overworked and outdated names they got from another dealer, wouldn’t it only take them only 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 4 big mistakes 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!

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