“I would like to know where I can get a mailing list of of owner-held notes.”
I am asked this question frequently. Mailing solicitations to note holders offering to buy
their notes is not a marketing method I recommend to everyone. It is very labor-intensive and expensive.
If you don’t know much about direct mail, your chances of success are slim-to-none.
Here are some questions to ask a mailing list vendor before you spend your money:
1. What are the sources of your leads — how do you know these people actually own
2. Is the price for a one-time use, or are you selling the list? If they sell it, beware.
Lots of others probably already own it and are mailing it.
3. Are the leads sorted by type of note owned? You don’t want a list of owners of
3. Will I get information about the notes each lead owns (such as type of property,
location, balance due, terms, etc.)?
4. How many times has this list been rented in the past 6 months? Every time it has
been rented or sold you can assume the note holders have received a solicitation from someone to
buy their notes.
5. Is there a mailing window? In other words, does the vendor agree not to sell or rent
the list to anyone else for a period of time after your purchase? This gives you an opportunity to
use the list exclusively for awhile.
6. Can you provide customized lists, such as individual states, cities, type of note, size
of note, etc.?
7. Do you provide phone numbers and e-mail addresses of the note holders? Personal
follow-up is what sells, not the first contact. The prospect must see your message repeatedly —
most sales aren’t made until the prospect’s 7th exposure to your marketing!
8. What deliverability percentage do you guarantee? Professional list vendors usually
guarantee that 90 percent or more of their addresses are accurate.
9. Do you clean the list each time it is mailed? If they say yes, ask them how. The right
answer is, “our customers send us the nixies” (nixies are returned letters). If they don’t get the
nixies somehow, they can’t clean it.
10. Do you merge and purge? This is a test question. If they don’t know what it means,
they don’t know what they are doing. (It means that when the list is cleaned, duplicate names are
merged into one and the rest are deleted.)
11. What is your refund policy? Suppose you buy the list and half your letters are
returned as undeliverable. Or you find out that it’s not a list of note holders at all, but just names
from a phone book. You have just thrown away hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars. Will
you at least be able to recover your costs for the list?
12. Can I purchase small numbers of names for roll-outs? (“Roll-out” means “test” in
the mailing list business.) ALWAYS TEST, TEST, TEST. NEVER SEND A MAILING
WITHOUT TESTING THE LIST AND VARIOUS MAILING PIECES.
Because of the time and cost, if you insist on doing direct mail, I think you are better off hiring a high school kid and training him
or her in courthouse research.
W. J. Mencarow is the editor of THE PAPER SOURCE JOURNAL.
You can read many more articles like this at www.cashflows.org