BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE: FRONTIER - the resource for entrepreneurs  
MARCH 9, 2000

Direct Mail: Hitting the Target

It doesn't matter how compelling your message is if it reaches the wrong audience--or no one at all


E-Mail Story

Is This Mailing List Worth the Price?

Management Archive

Here's how to get the "A" list.

Jeffrey Schneider, sales and marketing vice-president for ASA Environmental Products Inc., a five-employee distributor in Branford, Conn., wasted $700 on his first mailing list. No one responded to his campaign, and many letters bounced back as undeliverable. The problem? The list was only updated annually, and Schneider couldn't ferret out potential customers by specific industries. The next time, he found a list that's updated quarterly and asked for a demo of the software first.

Compiled lists come from directories, newspapers, and public records. Pricier response lists only include people or businesses who previously responded to a mailing. Response lists cost about $40 to $75 per thousand names with a 10,000-name minimum. E-mail lists cost more--an average of $200 to $350 per thousand.


-- Learn mailing-list lingo via the American List Counsel's glossary ( The Direct Marketing Assn.'s Web site ( can help you evaluate a list or locate a list broker. Find e-mail lists at

-- Target Marketing Magazine tracks the direct-mail list market. Free subscription and newsletter information is available at

-- Do It Yourself Direct Marketing: Secrets for Small Business, second edition, by Mark S. Bacon, $16.95 (Wiley 1997). Provides strategies for evaluating lists and working with a list broker.

This article was originally published in the February 28, 2000 print edition of Business Week's Frontier. To subscribe, please see our subscription policy.

By Alison Stein Wellner


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