Holding and maintaining Lists

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Mailing lists are a perishable commodity. They have to be maintained and updated . The latter is important: people move jobs, position and location and like to be addressed correctly. While all customers and enquirers {everyone from a telephone enquirer to someone met at a conference or exhibition} need to go on your list, you may need to clean names out after a period of no response.

But be careful: I knew one company that has a kind of ‘last chance’ category, those that continue to mail for just a little longer, and another that refers to LYBUNTs [standing for Last Year, But Unfortunately Not This in Terms of orders]. The biggest order I have ever received came after a past customer was kept on the list for just over three years without response, so choose cut-off points carefully.

Once, small scale direct mail involved manual systems, card indexes and the like. Now for all practical purposes – and for any real quantity – list holding necessitates a computer. As a result most [even quite small } systems are able to hold lists and can be programmed with additional facilities [for instance, mail-merging systems which allow letters to be produced with the name on the label used in the letter].

Computer companies and their distributors will be only too willing to offer help and advice. If you have an existing system, the new element must be compatible with it and, while there is a profusion of good standard software available, it is important that this will give you the exact operation you want.

For example, you may wish to:
print out by company
/organization as well as individual names
rebate-sort, i.e. to deliver post office pre-sorted in a way that qualifies for lower rates [though note that it also takes longer to deliver]
link in other record systems, clients, debtors, etc.
print quietly or at a certain speed.
Or you may simply want to avoid your labels looking as if they have come off a computer system.

Do not be seduced by all the many things computers can do [or by technical enthusiasts]. You want a system to do all the things you want, but you do not want it full or irrelevancies, and over complicated to operate and keep up to date.

All the caveats of purchasing this sort of equipment apply. Like all such systems, exactly what will suit you needs come investigation, Even when you do, it’s obsolete’. I will make no attempt here to itemize specific equipment or software, as what is available changes while you watch. But this is no excuse not to make decisions to buy.

However long you wait, there will always be a better system available tomorrow.
Think ahead: you will never anticipate everything as technology moves so fast, but do not be caught out by adopting too narrow a focus and failing to incorporate some actually easily predictable element of what your system must do.

Reference: Direct marketing in a week: Patrick Forsyth