Marketing via direct mail requires a quality list, but where can you find one? There are five main list sources.

  • The best is your own compiled list, providing you've kept it purged, merged, parsed, and it includes past clients and prospects. It's even better if you added neighborhoods as you worked through a community.
  • The next best is an online compiler such as MarketShare, a division of Experian, one of three main companies that compile credit information. Lists from online compilers offer many advantages for a reasonable price. The cost is about 16 cents per record, but there's lots of information in each record. Market-Share also has a CD-ROM version of its online product.
  • Other sources include brokers, owners, and list managers. Use caution with this option. The cost is usually so many dollars per 1,000 addresses, plus extra for specialized sorts and additional data elements. Cost per record will vary.
  • A fourth option is a CD-ROM of every American household (InfoUSA), purchased at Office Depot or Staples. The PowerFinder CDs ($300) are little more than a phone book on steroids and are difficult to sort.
  • Last are list exchanges where local compilers, usually other small businesses, share lists with exchange members. Cost is minimal, but they're seldom worth the effort unless the exchange is organized. (Most are not.) --Stephen Wilson is a partner in Biz-comm Inc., a marketing/communications firm specializing in the needs of remodelers,