The Second Time’s a Charm: Advice on Prospect Reuses

I am sure you have encountered the following scenario: You have 100,000 prospect catalogs available for the final drop of the season. Should you

  1. employ a cooperative database to run balance models?
  2. order additional names on rental or exchange? or
  3. acquire remail rights for select segments you have already mailed during the course of the campaign?

Interestingly enough, in my experience reviewing mail plans for clients, the easiest–and sometimes most lucrative—option, reusing one’s best-performing lists, is applied only sparingly. If lately you have observed poor performance among your co-op database balance models, the older, lower-dollar portions of your continuation lists, or the tightest possible selects from marginal lists, it is time you consider prospecting reuses.

Assuming that you are already mailing multis to their full entitlement, the first place to look for remail potential is among your best continuation-list unique names. Let analysis from last year’s comparable campaign drive your decision-making. Sort all prospect unique name segments mailed only once and early in the campaign (for instance, uniques mailed only once in the September drop of a fall/holiday campaign), then review the response differentials of the best-performing 25% against the worst-performing quarter.

In many cases, I encounter 2:1 ratios or better. If co-op database segments are among your top performers, a reuse order is as simple as a phone call or an e-mail to your account representative stating the expected mail quantity and mail date. Lists acquired via brokerage on exchange and rental will need to be recleared; rarely will this request be denied, although in some cases, exchange reuse clearances end up ordered on rental.

The next place to look is among your two-time prospect multis for reuse on a third mailing. For the ease of reuse clearance, I recommend that you rank the co-op databases above rented and exchanged outside lists in the merge, with multis between co-ops and individual outside lists assigned specifically to co-op multi segments.

A third and final idea regarding prospect list reuse is actually the next step beyond reuse: obtaining unlimited mailing rights. In situations where a list is always among your top performers and is complementary but noncompetitive, acquiring an unlimited use order might be an excellent option. Many lists do not offer unlimited mailing rights–officially. Often arrangements such as these require a personal phone call, marketing manager to marketing manager. Get creative: If the list is a high flyer, it is probably worth such special consideration.

Todd Miller is senior circulation manager at San Rafael, CA-based marketing services firm Lenser.

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