Marketing hinges on a simple truth: No recognized, admitted need goes unfulfilled. The trick is finding potential clients with recognized, admitted, yet unfulfilled needs who can pay for services. One of the best, most economically rewarding lead generators is a well-thought-out and executed direct mail campaign. Here are five steps to get there: Profile your client list. This means creating a picture of your ideal client. If you duplicate those who've heard your sales pitch and contracted with you, you'll have an excellent indicator. Your profile should include name, address, telephone number, income estimate, estimate of home value, their age, how long they've lived in their home, magazines they read, the kind of car they drive, and anything that differentiates them.

Make sure your design and message are on target. Play to your audience. Consider what's current, what people are thinking about, what concerns them. For example, a "you earned it, you deserve it" message would work well in a high-income neighborhood.

Buy good mailing lists from reputable sources. Target confirmed homeowners in neighborhoods populated with your profiled client.

Actively look for other sources. Consider "new move-in" lists and variance application lists from city or county building departments. Consider lists you think of as off-limits. A healthy church or synagogue congregation could number in the thousands. You must know a member who is willing to provide a list to you, or you must be a member. Don't forget other business owners, who, in most cases, are also homeowners--the Chamber of Commerce might make another list source.

Keep sight of your goal. If you spend precious dollars talking to the wrong audience, your leads will be worthless. Find the people who can pay for your services. --Stephen Wilson is a partner with Reston, Va., marketing communications firm Biz-comm Inc.,