Need New Customers? Then Start With the List!

by Bill Glazer | March 20, 2011

"The point to remember about selling things is that, as well as creating atmosphere and excitement around your products, you've got to know what you're selling." - Stuart Wilde

Many of our GKIC Members are always asking "How can I acquire a good mailing list?" A list of customers that has never been into your business and one's who of course want to spend lots of money. We call these lists "Cold Lists". How you can determine a good cold list from a bad cold list depends on the criteria or demographics you use! How well you can answer the question: What demographics do my best clients have in common? That one question answered properly can mean the difference between a 3% response and a 28% response.

Most everyone knows, or at least thinks they know, what demographics their best clients fit into. Here are the demographics we often use when doing many of our "New Client Acquisition" mailings:

1. Do they own their own home?
2. What is their household income level?
3. Married or single?
4. Age range

Knowing these four very simple demographics will help increase your ROI greatly. However, if you can break down the demographics even further and become even more specific, the ROI should skyrocket. Here's an example:

One of our Members owns a Liquor Store and carries 163 different wines and actually has a wine bar. By adding one additional demographic piece of information, his response increased by 2% (that's a huge increase for any mailer). In addition to the four basic demographics, we asked for customers that subscribe to some type of fine dining or wine magazine. By matching more closely his data to his clients, his increase was 2%. The cost of the list went up a little, but the return was huge!

What's was the lesson learned?

The better you know who your best clients are the easier it is to segment them, niche sell to their specific desires, and the greater your response will be. Now, I'm not telling you that he didn't have a great offer because he did. His offer pushed or persuaded the prospect into action.

How can you find out more information about existing clients?

If you're fortunate enough to belong to Royalty Rewards, you can assemble two of the basic demographics right from your list: birthdays (age), and whether they are married or single. But what about the home ownership and income level? Well, you can use a list broker who will analyze your list. By sending them your in-house list, a list broker can completely break down the demographics of your clients such as: age, household income, cost of house, married, single plus a host of other categories. Actually, as the kids say... "it's very cool" to see exactly what your best customers demographics look like.

Is this Important? Yes!

However is it absolutely necessary in order for you to have a successful mailing campaign? No! But specific demographics can help determine your best clients and let you target that group. I recently did a Val-Pak mailer for a private client that I work with. We broke down the 50,000 mailers for him by areas A through E. Well, 3 areas pulled 85% of the total response, while the other 2 only pulled 15%. By dropping 2 of the 5 areas, he saved $53200 on his next month's cost. His ROI shot up like the first Russian Sputnik Rocket. But here's the best part, he took those leads and broke down the demographics on that small group and then we did direct mail pieces to that targeted group and really blew our ROI all apart with a 1 to 22 return. How's that for using smart Demographics and list acquisition?

Working with a list broker and finding one you trust is complicated. One question is whether or not they can sell you lists by radius instead of by zip codes. By the way, that question is a "writer downer": Use a radius, not a zip, if at all possible. It has been proven over and over by different marketing studies that most people shop within a 5 miles radius of their home. Zip codes can be used, but try and make sure the outer part of the zip doesn't violate the 5 mile rule. Now, there are exceptions but very few, guaranteed!

In conclusion, when sending out cold list direct mail pieces the list is your number one priority. Included in that list are the demographics of your best customers. If they all ride Harleys, then ask for a list of Harley Davidson owners. One other quick point, after you receive your purchased list you should always scrub that list against your existing in-house list to make sure your mail can get through to them. What you're trying to avoid are double mailings to the same people. Remember these cold lists are used for a New Customer Acquisition strategy only. Try and make sure you don't violate the 5 mile rule, and always scrub against an in-house list.

Bill Glazer, one of the most celebrated Marketing Gurus in the world, who along with the legendary Dan Kennedy have teamed up to provide advice to over 130,000 entrepreneurs worldwide in every possible industry and profession. Bill is a professional speaker, marketing consultant and coach, and a much sought-after copywriter. His book, "OUTRAGEOUS Advertising That's OUTRAGEOUSLY Successful," made four Best Seller's lists shortly after it's release in 2009.

Glazer-Kenndey Insiders Circle, owned and operated by internationally known marketing personalities Dan Kennedy and Bill Glazer, is THE place where truly smart, progressive, aggressive entrepreneurs with a love for marketing, a sincere desire to get rich and richer (with no apologies for doing so), and an optimistic, forward-looking attitude, gather' to exchange and share timely information and "what's working today" strategies and examples. Get Bill Glazer's #1 Bestselling Book, "Outrageous Advertising" for FREE. Click here.


Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; helps entrepreneurs to creating business value that transforms their world.  She is the author of Show Me The Money and columnist for & Fox Business online.   She is available for consulting, speaking engagements and workshops.  She can be reached at or


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