Sales & Customer Service mentor Lillian Vernon responds:
Customer lists are vital to the prosperity of any mail-order company, and I consider them our company's most valuable asset. When you begin your business, make it a priority to capture accurate customer data. Invest in sophisticated computer technology that will allow you to keep as much individual information as possible about each customer, especially your best customers. The more information you acquire, the better you can tailor and target your offers. It is widely accepted for companies to rent and trade their mailing lists. Renting a list from a similar mail-order company can help expand your customer base. In addition, list rental can be a good source of income for your business, once you have established a sizable list of at least 25,000 names. The Direct Marketing Association Inc. has a service locator database to find list brokers.