Buying a business list

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, on a scale of 10 a list has the weight of around 7 in determining the outcome of a marketing campaign. Don’t skimp on the list. The cheapest list is not always the best solution. Here is how we recommend buying data.

1. Determine your target.

Consider the geography. Are you going to use counties, zip codes, area codes, or MSA? The Boundaries are an important consideration in determining how far you will go to writes an account, or how far you can go to effectively compete against agents who are perceived to be more local then you are.

Consider the classes of business you want target. Using Sic codes is still most prevalent way of identifying business types, but you can also use the newer, more specific NAICS codes. The first four digits of the sic code are universal. The system was created by the US government during WWII as a way to easily identify businesses in case of attack. The extensions, six and eight digit codes, are unique to the list compiler. Duns six and eight digit codes are different than InfoUSA. This is important because using one source to identify the sic codes and then ordering the list from another source could present you with business names that don’t match what your selected targets.

The size is the last consideration. What is your average commission goal and how does it relate to the minimum employee size, or gross sales of the types of businesses you are targeting.

2. Are there enough names to target?

You can inadvertently set your parameters so specifically that there is just not enough critical mass. How many prospects do you need to create a viable pipeline of prospects? Examples would be fence erectors, or pool contractors with over 10 employees. There are 10 pool contractors and 17 fence builders, with over 10 employees. in Orange County, CA. 

Look at your goals. How many bound accounts will it take to reach your commission goals? How many quotes does it take to write a new account, how many appointments does it take to get an opportunity to quote, how many names to get an appointment? You may have to adjust your list criteria to increase the size of your list.

3. Where to buy the list?

I like my service BusinessDirectory. For full disclosure we are a Duns reseller and we have added worker’s comp x-dates in states where they are available. I chose Duns over other list compilers several years ago because of their ability to accurately identify branch locations. There are 24 million businesses in this country and only 17 million of them make buying decisions. Marketing is challenging enough without adding 30% unqualified names to the mix. Choose whatever list compiler you like, but make sure they understand and have the ability to remove branch locations. You may want to test a couple of lists over time to see which one produces the best results. Another benefit of using a Duns list is the Duns number. If you want to update the list later on you can use the Duns number as the unique identifier. Good luck with your data purchase. I hope this helps.