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When, Why, and How to Use Mailing Lists

By DeAnna Spencer
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Mailing lists may be the cause of more heartbreaks than anyother single factor in mail order. A poorly chosen list, a weakmailing and the high cost of mailing to a list can tax theoptimism of a new dealer very, very quickly. Arm yourself withknowledge before embarking on a course like this!

Whether you should use a mailing list to sell your productdepends on several things:

Is it too complex an offering to be explained in a 30 word ad?

Can you afford to mail 200 to 1,000 pieces on the chance thatyou won't get a single order?

Can you make a profit selling your product to only two to twentypeople in a 1,000 piece mailing?

Will a re-order of your product be required, and can you makeyour re-orders pay for the losses you will likely get frommailing to a list?

Do you know enough to choose the right list for your offering?

It takes either great faith in your offering or great stupidityto mail with a list. Most list companies today, specialize in"opportunity seekers" - people generally quite new to mail orderwho are either looking for a product to sell or an offer thatwill get them rich in a hurry.

Most of these "opportunity seekers" are engaged in chain lettertype schemes at some point, and they use mailing lists to make gains in their plans. Most of them lose money, but enoughpeople will try it once to make money, and these pie-in-the-skydreamers are the bread and butter for a lot of mailing listcompanies. Unless you have a truly superior offering for theseopportunity seekers, and you probably don't, they are not worthyour time and money. Most of them are unsophisticated dabblers.

Multi-level lists, offered by many companies, are truly aninteresting way to test response to an MLM offer. Many MLMpeople like to write back - in their own handwriting - abouttheir successes and failures, and they will always respond to asuperior product.

Specialized product-buyers' lists can pull beautifully if theoffering is unique enough, and worth a try for merchandisemarketing.

Regardless of what kind of mailing list you use, be very carefulin choosing a good list. Many are sold and resold to peoplemaking the very same offering, which is a waste of everyone'smoney. "Free" mailing lists are usually as good as their priceindicates. Check the guarantees. Common sense will tell youwhich are good for you and which are good for the companyselling the lists. And check to see how the lists are compiled.Are they people who have already bought something by mail, orare they merely people who indicated they might want to buysomething by mail?

In conclusion, we recommend that you never start any campaignwith a mailing list when advertising is so much cheaper. Whileit may prove to be more profitable than advertising, keep thisrule in mind:

When you're ready to try a mailing list, be fully prepared tolose every penny you spend in buying and mailing that list,because it could happen.

Note to editors:
To show my appreciation to the editors that use my articles, I offer a free solo ad. Simply send an email to me by using the form on the contact me page on my website to tell me the url the article was used on or send me a copy of the ezine it was used in.

Copyright 2004 by DeAnna Spencer
This article may be redistributed freely on the Internet as long as the resource box remains intact.

About the Author
DeAnna is the publisher of the ezine, Prospecting and Presents. Subscribers get one free ad per week. Subscribe today by visiting (


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