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  • Don't Be a Stranger to Your Mailing List

    What's the first step in building new business through a direct mail campaign? Determining whom you are going to target as a potential customer. The second is creating a database of those individuals.

    To Target Repeat Business

    Managing a database is not difficult, but it does take a little time. If your shop has a computer available, this task should become a part of your daily business routine.

    As customers visit or call your shop, be sure to obtain complete mailing information from them. This includes the zip code and full name of each customer. Try to get a phone number, too. You can either enter this information as you take the order, or at a set time each day.

    Be sure to use a computer program that can manage the information as a database. This will allow you to pull specific information and target audiences, like people with a certain zip code.

    If your shop does not have a computer available, keep a master list of customer information. When it comes time for your direct mail promotion, you can have an employee type or handwrite these names and address labels. Or, you can always hire a mailing house.

    Mailing houses can both compile information and print address labels for you.

    A good rule of thumb for working with databases is the more information you enter for each person the better. Be creative about the information you obtain from your customers. Think about the possible reasons you may want to send a direct mail piece in the future. Ask for your customer's birthday, anniversary, favorite flower, hobbies, profession, et cetera.

    The more information you have about your customers, the better your response from a direct mail campaign.

    For instance, if you are sending your customers a postcard promoting roses, first target those customers who indicated that the rose was their favorite flower. These customers are already inclined to purchase roses, and may just need a gentle reminder from you to make a purchase.

    Targeting New Business

    The easiest way to target new customers with a direct mail campaign is to purchase a database from an outside source. To build corporate business, contact your local Chamber of Commerce. They should be able to give you their complete membership directory either on computer disc or in mailing label format for a small fee.

    To target a specific group, such as single women between the ages of 18 to 35, contact a company that specializes in mailing lists. (To find such a company, look in your local telephone directory under the heading "Mailing Lists.")


    Postal regulations provide many opportunities to save on postage. This depends on how you process a mailing, the number of people you are mailing to, and the size of the mailing piece. Prior to affixing postage, you should check with your local post office to find out how you can receive additional discounts for bulk mail or automated mailing, and any special requirements.

    The real key to building and maintaining a database is getting started. Good luck and happy selling.


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