If you want to hit the bull's-eye, you don't want to use a shotgun,” says Alex Dean, president of The Alexander Group, a Kensington, Md.–based remodeling firm and a 32-year veteran in the high-end remodeling business. “You want to use a rifle with a high-powered scope to do the job.”

It's the same with direct mail. Buying an off-the-shelf mailing list versus using the latest direct-mail tools to segment customers and identify hot spots can make the difference between a bull's-eye or a missed target.

Zeroing In In the search for high-end clients, today's new direct-mail tools prove potent at segmenting consumers, as well as plotting leads on top of past sales for geographic targeting.

PRIZM from Claritas provides 66 “clusters” of consumer attributes for any U.S. city and presents the data in easy-to-read color graphics.
Claritas PRIZM from Claritas provides 66 “clusters” of consumer attributes for any U.S. city and presents the data in easy-to-read color graphics.

Consider Microsoft's MapPoint, the software Dean uses. Dean refines his mailing list to within tenths of a mile from a geographic center point. He targets single-family detached homes with a value exceeding the median price in his county, using overlays to display past projects.

Want to slice and dice even more finely? Tap into PRIZM from Claritas, a San Diego–based marketing information resources company. PRIZM delivers 66 “clusters” of consumer attributes for any U.S. city. PRIZM can drill down —even to the magazines likely to be on the coffee table at a particular street address. And it's all presented in color graphics that make it easy to find what you're looking for.

Running a proprietary list through PRIZM can reveal some surprises, as Joaquin Erazo discovered. Case Design/Remodeling, the Bethesda, Md., firm where Erazo is VP of marketing, had been targeting dual-income families. But when Erazo first used PRIZM to analyze past sales, it turned out that Case's prime customers were actually single-income families.

“Claritas gave us a complete picture of our client,” Erazo says, enabling him to re-engineer Case's direct-mail campaigns to appeal more strongly to the firm's target group. The strategy paid off. “We saw our response rates soar,” he says.

StarProbe Data Miner Suite, by RosellaDB, in Sydney, Australia, is another powerful data-mining tool. The platform performs hot-spot analyses with user-defined demographic, geographic, and psychographic variables. Predictive modeling and clustering, and statistical and correlation analysis are among the product's other features.

Instant Marketing Don't have a dedicated marketing department? No problem. You can partner with a direct-mail service provider to add direct mail to your marketing mix. For example, Melissa Data Corp. in Santa Margarita, Calif., handles all aspects of direct mail, including list building, creative services, and mailing. An authorized PRIZM reseller, Melissa Data puts PRIZM to work to “segment, search, identify, and order” the names of the best prospects to boost response rates. And all this can be done online.

Getting your marketing message into the hands of high-end customers has never been easier.

Patricia Frank writes business articles from the North Carolina coast.