You need to keep in contact with your customers at least once every 90 days, and the easiest and most economical way to do so is through direct mail. It doesn’t matter what type of business you are, you must do this or risk the chance of losing some of your customers. Your competitors are likely mailing or calling your customers as their prospects.
In the retail business, you might not keep a record of your customers’ addresses. And, if you’re a restaurant, the same may be true. So how do you get your customers’ names and addresses? Have a drawing that requires an address to enter, give a preferred customer card that requires customers to fill out an info card, or ask customers to fill out a coupon and mailing list form. Tell them that periodically they will receive discount coupons or special offers in the mail.
If you accept checks, you have the customer’s information right there. Record the address in your computer before you deposit the check. If you have so many different customers that it’s impossible for you to keep track of them, then let someone else do it. There likely are many small mailing companies in or near your location—just look in the yellow pages or on the Internet to find them. Mail to customers and your best prospects in your general selling area at least quarterly to keep your business familiar and in their mind.
To get a prospect list, contact two or three mailing-list brokers and get quotes. You’ll want to specify selection parameters for consumers, such as income level, ZIP code, age group, home value, and so on to get the target audience you want. For business-to-business (B2B) mailings, you can select by ZIP code, area code, type of business, SIC code, number of employees, yearly sales, and so on.
One of the best sources for general consumer and business lists is ReferenceUSA. They have most of the phonebook listings from the entire country available and are reasonably current. They have most new listings in their database long before the next phonebook comes out. Most list brokers can also get information on consumer and trade magazine subscriber lists that go to your target customers. The minimum order for most lists is 5,000 names, so plan your printing accordingly.
Whatever you send to your lists, don’t send the same thing two mailings in a row. Restaurants can send out a small version of their menu with a coupon for new items. B2B mailers can offer businesses free shipping if they order by a certain date.