How to capture repeat business and gain new customers through the use of a Mailing List was the topic of Wednesday’s program. What is a mailing list and why do I need one? Very simply, a mailing list is a list of contacts -- people and/or businesses that advertising matter or information is to be mailed. Mailing lists are fluid … meaning they change with us as our needs and wants change. Because our needs and wants shape our daily lives and ultimately affect our lists, our mailing lists are individual. Since mailing lists are individual; there is no one-size, fits all list.
Your mailing list will evolve with your career and should reflect three things:
1. Past professional activity (shows you’ve had, sales you’ve made, etc.)
2. Your current professional abilities (what you can achieve with the skills and materials you have now)
3. Your future professional aspirations (where you want your career to go in the future; new markets or customers you want to approach)
Although our professional needs and wants are individual, our mailing lists will fall into primarily four categories: publicity lists, marketing lists, network lists, and social lists. Publicity Lists contain media contacts for newspapers, television, radio stations and trade magazines along with public relations opportunities in your community. Marketing lists contain information for the various markets or venues to show and/or sell your work. Network lists contain peer contacts, b2b professional contacts and service organizations. Social lists contain the names of your social contacts.
When I worked as a publicist for the gallery and later as Public Relations/Marketing Director for the International arts co-op, I utilized the two most economical forms of advertising quite successfully – the direct mail campaign and the promotional press release. Neither of which could have been carried out without my mailing list. As with any business in general, the most important and highly valuable form of advertising is through satisfied customers. This holds true for direct mail as well – the industry standard for customer response rate for mailing lists is 3%. This means that if you mail out an offer to 1000 contacts, you can expect only 30 replies and not all replies will be sales. On the other hand, follow-up promotions mailed to customers who have already made a purchase from you yield a typical response rate of 10 to 15%.
Prior clients are the highest quality seeds for building your marketing mailing list. The next best seed is the referred client followed by the self-cultivated prospect. The lowest quality seed is the prospect you know nothing about or the rental name that comes from a list broker. When building your list, its important to remember that quality is always favorable to quantity. It is far better to have one name that will lead to a show or sale rather than 100 names that lead to nothing. Don’t waste your time and money chasing down “dead-end leads”.
Begin building your marketing list by listing contacts from all previous professional activity such as past sales, galleries you’ve exhibited in or have been represented by, etc. Scout “new markets” based on your future aspirations keeping in mind your present professional capabilities (how much and what types of new business can you handle) – add to your list those contacts that are appropriate. Your list will evolve as new venues become past professional activities and as venues that don’t pan out are removed from your list. Start you publicity list by gaining access to the media and public relations opportunities in your immediate area. Your phone book and local newsstand will be an excellent resource. A wonderful resource for national and international press contacts is the American Journalists Review (AJR).
There are a variety of options for storing your mailing lists such as spreadsheets (Excel, Lotus, Quattro Pro) or database (Paradox, Access, FileMaker Pro, dBASE, FoxPro, Approach or Oracle) programs. The type of program you use is based largely upon your personal preferences. If you are just starting out with databases, I recommend Working Artist Software or Arts & Craft Business Organizer
What to send: Send a press release to your publicity list about events of interest to the public such as gallery exhibitions and other such newsworthy events. Keep in mind distance and interest when submitting press releases as editors won’t print items that aren’t relevant to their readers. For current clients, network and social lists I utilize a newsletter type mailing. For new prospects, I use a brochure and/or postcard. Your mailing list isn’t confined to traditional mail. You can send out email campaigns instead of or in addition to your traditional mailings. To avoid being identified as “spam” by your ISP, utilize an email marketing service to send out your emails. Fine Art America and VistaPrint offer these types of services, or you can find others through Google. Maximizing direct mail success depends upon three things: the list you use, the offers you make and the quality of the marketing materials you send.
Don’t miss the next episode of Outside the Frame to learn the basics for writing an effective Promotional Press Release that gets your name and work in print!