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08 How To Select A Mailing List

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List selection is critical to a successful mailing. It just doesn't make sense to send a sales letter to someone who couldn't possibly be interested. Where do you get the right names?

First of all, you compile them yourself. Begin with your own contact network. That's the most important list you could ever get your hands on, because those people know and trust you. You're a known quantity to them. (Remember, the business world is suspicious of "strangers.") Your friendship list will be your biggest ally in your search for new employment.

Get other lists from:
  • Professional organizations (names of their members)
  • Telephone directories
  • Your city directory
  • The newspaper (business section, special inserts)
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Directories In Print (a directory of directories)
  • Internet websites like Hoovers
Lists you can buy
I've found the best lists are those you create and verify yourself, but if you're in a hurry, or want to do a mass mailing—say 1,000 pieces—you can buy or rent names. Companies like InfoUSA allow you to select lists online. A quick search on "mailing lists" on Google produced dozens of good vendors.

Be a list-monger
Be on the lookout for lists and directories. Get your hands on them and don't let go. If they're affordable, buy your own directories so you can mark them and reuse them.

Some directories are free. Get them. Some cost as little as $5 or $10. Grab them. Some cost $25-$35. Buy them if you will need them often. Borrow expensive directories from the library. Copying names and titles from the library is the worst-case scenario because it's slow and boring. I prefer to find smaller directories I can buy and own—usually those under $25. I have a filing cabinet full of them.

Don't forget that some associations sell their membership lists on pre-printed labels, so you can buy the labels and skip the data entry—a big time-saver, although labels tend to look like "mass mailings."

Some lists come on computer disk, a great idea if you need a lot of names—and if the list is current. Some list services offer their names online so you can access them over the Internet.

Where to get the names of executive recruiters 
They're right here on our website. E-mail your letter and resume to as many as 1,000 headhunters listed in The Directory of Executive and Professional Recruiters published annually by Kennedy Publications, Templeton Road, Fitzwilliam, NH.

Verify all names, titles, and addresses
My definition of a directory is "something that's obsolete the day it comes off the press." Why? Because people move so often.

Every time you use a list, verify names and titles. Call the company and ask, "Is Marcia Cooke still in charge of accounting?" Five times out of ten they'll say, "No, Marcia has left the company. Ron Black is now in charge of accounting."

Verifying names is a lot of work, but it's worth it. Letters that don't go to an identifiable person are useless. People don't like to receive mail addressed to someone else, especially their predecessor. Readers like their mail personalized. I think you're better off sending 50 letters to the right people than mailing 500 pieces to an outdated list.

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William S. Frank, M.A.,
25 Reasons I love consulting.
by William S. Frank
  1. Brand. You are your own brand, and you can define it any way you want. For many years, I provided outplacement to the ex-employees of Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield service corporation. When departing employees left the company, they didn't request outplacement in their severance package. They said, "I want Bill Frank."
  2. Demand. The world will always be full of terrible problems that need solving.
  3. White Hat. I can be a helper and get paid for it.
  4. Pay. I can be paid to do things I'd gladly do for nothing.
  5. Variety. Every day is different.
  6. Happiness. At this stage of my career, I only work for people I respect and care about. If a client micromanages me or is otherwise no fun, I complete the assignment and replace them.
  7. Talent. I'm using 110% of my talents and stretching myself to the max.
  8. Change. I can change my focus any day I want. If you're a McDonald's franchisee, you don't say, "Hey, I've got this great idea for a meatball sandwich—let's try it out today." In consulting you can adjust your focus hour-by-hour, as long as your clients still understand and appreciate what you do.
  9. Income. No one else would pay me as much as I pay myself.
  10. FUN. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.
  11. Retirement. I can write and consult as long as I am physically and mentally capable. Peter Drucker worked into his 90s, and when asked which book was his best, he said: "My next one."
  12. Job Security. Although clients come and go, no one can come into my office and say, "Pack up your stuff . . . You don't work here anymore." In 29 years, I've only had one employer: ME.
  13. Travel. I don't have to travel unless I decide to. I travel if it's both FUN and profitable—or at least FUN.
  14. Commute. I live five minutes from my office, a corner office in an upscale six-story tower. In winter, I leave a heated garage at home and drive to an underground heated garage at work. There's seldom time to hear even one song on the radio.
  15. Vacation. Consulting is more fun than vacation (except on Wailea Beach in Maui).
  16. Friends. I have developed hundreds of close acquaintances and several lifetime friends.
  17. Time. I can work as much or as little as I like: four-hour days or 18-hour days. (Of course, my income will reflect that.)
  18. Employees. I can work with employees, subcontractors, partners, or alone—I've done it all.
  19. Passive Income. I've developed several products that provide "mailbox money." I earn while I'm sleeping.
  20. Ethics. I've never had to violate my values or personal code of ethics. I've never had to lie, purposely deceive or harm others, or promise things I can't deliver. I go to bed with a clear conscience. That doesn't mean there's never any conflict. But the conflict is conducted according to generally accepted business practices.
  21. Virtual. My career is fairly portable. With the Internet, e-mail, cell phone, and FedEx, I can work nationally, even internationally from my office—or anywhere in the world.
  22. Purpose. I make a difference in peoples' lives every day. I see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, and read it in their thank-yous.
  23. Experience. Every painful or joyful life experience makes me a better consultant. So does every person I meet or book I read. Grey hair can be good in consulting.
  24. Structure. I have to work very hard, and the clients expect superb results—but I get to structure my days, weeks, months, and years.
  25. Boss. Most of the time, I love my boss.
As I was posting these letters online, I realized I want to communicate my love for consulting. It's just a great business. The single letters, taken together, may create a picture of enjoyment, but in a burst of creativity I listed some of the reasons consulting is such a good fit for me—and perhaps for you, too. They are not prioritized; this is just how they came out.