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Narrow Your Focus to Find Right List

So many names, so little time.

I wanted to know what’s available in compiled lists, so I pulled a few of my direct marketing trade journals from under the mass of papers, old pizza boxes and remains of previous lunches on my desk and called all the list vendors in each. In addition to finding out that pizza is good for three, maybe four days without refrigeration, I discovered some interesting lists from vendors, as well as tips on sorting through the thousands of lists to find the best matches for your needs.

Edith Roman (800/223-2194; www.edithroman.com) publishes an excellent, glossy 95-page catalog of consumer and business-response compiled lists. Lists are alphabetically arranged and also shown by SIC code and geographic breakouts. Counts are included for each list. You can easily find lists for almost any industry, including 27,827 stone clay glass and concrete products manufacturers, or any niche: 2,822 ophthalmic goods wholesalers, 2,711 ventilating systems-cleaners and 3,086 tattoo parlors. The catalog is easy to use for the experienced and others, with a logical layout and explanation of how to use each section.

Dunhill International List Company (800/DUNHILL; www.dunhills.com) publishes an easy-to-use 77-page catalog on bleached newsprint. Dunhill offers specialty lists shown in alphabetized sequence, such as 25,921 foundations with officers, 811,000 health insurance agents, and 2,825 single-parent organizations. Dunhill also breaks out lists alphabetically and by SIC. As expected, you can get businesses or business executives by state, income, title, type of firm, and attorneys or doctors by specialty.

InfoUSA (800/555-5335, 402/592-9000; www.infoUSA.com), the firm that went about buying up almost every list company that would sell just a few years ago, offers 11 million businesses by Yellow Page heading, number of employees, SIC, sales volume, phone number and credit rating code. You can also get information on 195 million consumers by age, estimated income, home value and other selects.

Its 72-page catalog is easy to use and offers a few specialty lists – such as 12 million executives by ethnic surname, 3 million fax numbers, 663,000 work-at-home businesses, and 3 million businesses in affluent neighborhoods. InfoUSA also offers lists by some fairly esoteric industries, including 1,068 beverage-dispensing equipment wholesalers and 403 bronze table manufacturers.

Acxiom/Direct Media (203/532-1000; www.acxiom.com) had the most advertising pages in trade magazines, but its 48-page, spiral-bound catalog paled by comparison to the ease-of-use of other list catalogs.

Its book – mostly response lists – was separated into business and consumer sections, showing 30 lists to a page. Only the list name was shown, which was sometimes confusing, along with the Acxiom customer service rep, and sales rep name and phone number. All lists shown were managed by Acxiom.

American List Counsel (800/403-1870; www.amlist.com) sent a 60-page catalog broken into segments containing consumer lists, business lists, lists by SIC and proprietary response lists. This last section included some strange ones, including a master file of sufferers of such ailments as gastritis and bladder control.

Like most other major list vendors, ALC handles lists for some of the larger mail-order houses: 1,337,167 L.L. Bean buyers, 2,695,137 Spiegel buyers and 4,856,781 Victoria’s Secret buyers. It also handles some of the larger magazine subscription lists. The catalog is nicely presented and easy to use.

Hugo Dunhill Mailing Lists Inc. (888/274-5735; www.hdml.com) puts together a well-designed and information-packed catalog. Arranged alphabetically and then referenced in SIC order, the Hugo Dunhill catalog goes deep into some wells that are dry in other catalogs. Along with listing 108,472 accounting firms, you can get tax preparers broken down by specialty, along with 144 associations, 4,305 attorneys, 558 bankers, 25,478 CPAs and so forth. If you can name the category, you probably can get a list of all the people in it. If you can’t, call Hugo and speak to him – he’s a lot of help in a short amount of time.

Dun and Bradstreet (973/605-6457; www.dnb.com) is one of the granddaddies of the list industry, and it keeps a master file of almost everything and everybody. It has a full resource file on your credit – even if you don’t want them to have it. That credit information in available in a list – even if you don’t want your competitors to get it. You can also get a CD-ROM with 11 million businesses on it. You can analyze and manipulate the data, then pay only for the list of names or businesses you use. Dun and Bradstreet’s 48-page catalog is organized by SIC.

Compiled lists are a common source of names and records that have been gathered, collected and entered into a database. Most commonly, the names may have been acquired through public records, such as vehicle registrations or through directories. One of the most common sources of compiled lists comes from Yellow Page headings. The names are gathered from phone books across the United States Examples include all luggage dealers or plumbing supply dealers in the United States.

You can get almost anything you’d like in a compiled list. If you would like to mail to only the companies that make the tiny screws that fit in your eyeglasses, there’s a complied list out there somewhere with just those names.

All catalogs have differing levels of service and ease-of-use. Some give good marketing advice. Others, well … you know. Each list house has its own counts and numbers for different selections, and each treats merged data in different ways.

There are also significant differences in pricing, return policies, and freshness of lists and names. Some vendors clean their lists more frequently than others. Some offer hot-name files that are 1 month old, while hot-name files from others are 6 months old. You never know until you ask.

Most list houses have a specialty, so it pays to shop around. My advice: Talk to each list house. See who you feel comfortable with. I’ll make you this guarantee: The more questions you ask up front, the more response you’ll get when you mail. When you need a great mailing list, just dig.

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