Finding quality circulation prospects from a prepared list is hard work, says Heidi Spangler, circulation director for b-to-b publisher, GIE Media. "There’s so much garbage on lists these days," she says.
So the best circ experts build lists, and the key to building good lists is to be creative and look in unique places.
For Spangler, thinking outside the box garnered GIE’s 35,000-circulation Snow Removal a 20 percent boost in circulation last year. "When we launched Snow Removal, it was difficult because it’s not a primary business for a lot of people," she explains. "There are landscapers and others who do it, but seasonally."
Lacking the luxury of full-time snow management companies, Spangler partnered with a magazine targeting the service-station industry.
"We had them ask readers if they did snow removal," she says. "It worked out great and we ended up buying a list from them for less than one dollar a name. We got a great conversion rate for it." The list converted at 30 percent, about 10 percent higher than the company’s usual telemarketing efforts.
Spangler also has targeted the companies that receive GIE publications to help her build lists to market to. "I’ll approach some of the smaller companies and I’ll ask for their top customers and build a contact list from that," she says. "If you can get one from every company, you can put together a pretty good list."
In buying lists from brokers, even primary brokers, Spangler suggests circulation directors take a long, hard look before buying. "There are so many typos, sometimes the first and last names aren’t in the right fields, a lot of lists will have nicknames," she adds. "Those are the lists you want to stay away from. Don’t be afraid to return a list if it’s not what you want and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want."