If you're trying to market a product by direct mail, it's important to send your promotional pieces to people who both appreciate its value and have the ability to buy it. That's particularly true when you're selling to businesses, and so many companies direct their pitches to people relatively high up the corporate ladder -- plant managers, chief financial officers, presidents, and the like. Sometimes it pays to go a few steps down the ladder, however.

The New Pig Corp., for example, figured that janitors were the most likely purchasers of its new device for absorbing oil leaks around manufacturing equipment. Unlike the plant manager, a janitor would immediately comprehend the product's benefits and might well have the authority to make a $100 purchase. Besides, president Don Beaver figured, janitors don't get much mail.

So Beaver rented a list from the American Institute of Plant Engineers and mailed letters to the "facilities manager" (rather than the engineers) of plants on the list. "What we were trying to do," says Beaver, "was get to the guy pushing the broom." The mailing produced 295 orders, generating 188 new clients, and got Pig's marketing program off to an auspicious start.