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Targeting Buyers

One marketing method to consider is renting opt-in lists—both email and snail mail lists. Your first inclination might be to rent lists of people who have shown an affinity for the products or services you sell, thinking that they're the best target audience.

But that's not necessarily so.

Using the knowledge gained from my prior business, I've discovered that a list of catalog buyers who have the propensity to buy "remotely" are a better targeted audience than one that has shown an affinity for your product or service. Why? They're already comfortable with the idea of buying remotely.

The best of both worlds, of course, is to find consumers who are interested in your product or service niche and are catalog buyers—any type of catalog buyers—as well. So I suggest that you find list brokers who can rent you opt-in lists that reflect both an affinity for your product or service and have proven to buy through catalogs or mail order. Some of the places to start from to rent email opt-in lists include PostMaster Direct and YesMail. I would also suggest renting snail mail lists from some of the list brokers listed on the Direct Marketing Association web site.

If you want to see the proof of my supposition, look at Eddie Bauer. Eddie Bauer operates in all three channels—catalog, e-commerce and retail—and knows its customers well. The overlap between Net buyers and catalog buyers is very high. In fact, Eddie Bauer's research shows that fewer than 15% of the customers who buy direct from them buy solely from the Internet. But the overlap between retail buyers and catalog buyers is a bigger surprise. That overlap is very low. While 90% of catalog buyers shop retail, only 10% of retail buyers also use the catalog.

Why reinvent the wheel? Hundreds of innovators over the past 20 years have blazed the trail for your e-business. Use their knowledge to your best advantage, and don't rush to become a pioneer. Remember what they say—you can always tell pioneers by the arrows in their back!

Sometimes imitation is also the better part of valor.

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