Last weekend, my family and I were number 34 at the animal shelter to pick out a new puppy.  The line was about 100 feet long.  It was a bit brisk with the sun moving in and out of clouds.  You know it has been a long winter when the sun comes out and a line of sixty people in complete unison reformulate to a new location in order to catch its rays. It didn’t matter to us how short lived the sun rays were, they were worth moving for. If you are anything like us New Englanders, you are more than ready to see the end of winter.


As we all know, spring is about birth (like my new puppy) and rebirth (like flowers).  It’s a great time to imagine and reinvent.  It’s a great time for marketers too because part of spring is relishing in the creative rebirth of your marketing efforts.  If you are ready to roll out the new spring catalog, don’t forget to do your spring cleaning first!  What a perfect opportunity to clean up your mail list.  Even the most successful lists need to be cleaned up and by doing so you could save quite a bit of money.  Here’s a four step checklist that will get you started.


#1: Clean away muddy addresses: Mud season doesn’t mean you should let the mud get in the way of your direct mail campaign.  What a waste of money to mail catalogs to people and places that don’t even exist.  Because around 20% of the U.S. population moves each year, it’s easy to understand how your mail list gets a bit muddy from time to time and unfortunately not everyone wipes their feet before entering.  Others get married, die, or change occupation.  You can clean up your addresses by using the NCOA (National Change of Address) link manufactured by the USPS. The NCOA provides accurate addresses for all individuals and businesses that have registered with the USPS. Running your list through this program only takes a couple of hours and can save you considerable marketing dollars.


# 2: Eliminate dirty duplicates: Just married women can relate to this phenomenon. Divorced and remarried women can really relate to this. I don’t really need three copies of Venus in my mailbox.  What a waste of money!  If this happens to 100 other women (which I am sure is actually a lot more), well, that’s 200 copies of a catalog not being looked at.  If your catalog costs fifty cents a copy (which I am sure it is actually a lot more), that’s $100 you just wasted. Now consider this.  Do the math on a larger scale. How many catalogs do you mail out? 100,000? A million?  How many duplicates do you have? How many thousands of dollars do you have going into a black hole?  Duplicates are dirty.  They’re also pretty easy to spot.  So take the time to clean. It is spring after all.


#3: Fix faulty data: Isn’t it strange how you can never really target Jennfier or Sarha.  They are nowhere to be found.  Not just that, but it doesn’t look very good on their end to receive a catalog with their name misspelled.  That would be like the opposite of personalization.  So make sure your information is entered correctly (no typos) and you will have an easier time participating in the cooperative databases as well as targeting your customers and not looking completely incompetent while you do it.


#4: Polish and shine by adding addresses: Adding new names to your mail file based upon the buying behaviors of current customers is a great way to polish your list after all that cleaning.  Again, the use of a cooperative database is a key component to this. Not only can you better target the people on your list, but you can add new names based on the demographics of your current customer base.


Now you can see why it’s time to get out those rubber gloves and start scrubbing.  For catalogers list hygiene is a definite necessity.  Sometimes, it takes a little effort to find the sun, but in the end it’s always well worth the effort.


For all the animal lovers out there who want to know the outcome of our two hour wait in the blinking sun, we did end up getting a new puppy.  He’s a spring baby and was most definitely worth the wait.


Clyde with border