When it’s time to create and launch an integrated campaign, it’s easy to focus on the more exciting or complex elements: the concepts, the schedule, the offer, the tracking and metrics.
But without a solid list of relevant decision-makers, it doesn’t matter how creative the campaign concept is or how great of an offer you’re presenting—no one will bite.
The ideal situation is using a list your company has curated over time, full of prospects provided by your sales team or actual customers you have existing business relationships with. Using one of these two sources means that you’ll have more complete, more accurate contact information, allowing you to reach the right decision-maker.
But often, the list simply doesn’t exist internally and you’re forced to turn to outside sources. There are many list creation and appending companies out there, but before purchasing the first list you find and blasting out some postcards and e-mails, here are a few pointers:
- Carefully think through your search parameters. Consider job titles, SIC codes, ZIP codes and revenue ranges. Solid list companies should be able to filter by such search parameters.
- Consider multiple sources. Companies that pull from databases for all contact information are typically the easiest to find and most affordable, but there are other options. Some companies will pull a company list from a database and then call each company to append the correct contact. Or, many trade publications will rent their subscription lists.
- Ask for a sample. Many companies actually pull the list before you purchase it, so they can provide you with counts and sample data before a transaction is made. Take the time to call the contacts provided and see if the majority seem to be the appropriate decision-makers. It’s normal that a purchased list not be 100% accurate, but make sure you’re comfortable before cutting the check.
- Review the results. Once you have the list, eyeball the spreadsheet to make sure the companies and contacts you’re seeing seem complete and relevant. If you have any concerns, go back to the company to see what potential solutions there might be.
- Keep an eye on the warranty. Many list providers offer some sort of warranty for returned mail or e-mail. Read the fine print, and cash in when needed. Often, if e-mails bounce back, the company will provide you with a new set of contacts to replace the bad ones.