The Greatest Strategy So Few Small Business Marketers Are Willing To Use

By: Dan Kennedy on: October 26th, 2009 4 Comments

Never discouraged by futility or resistance, I continue to teach and preach the profound advantage available only through precise message to market match. And I have another instructive example.

The big sporting goods, hunting, fishing, camping and apparel company ORVIS offers its customer mailing list with ethnic and religious selects, so you can obtain only the Jewish or Catholic or Muslim or Hindu buyers, or only the Asian or African-American or British or Irish or Italian or Hispanic buyers….and by merging Orvis’ list with InfoUSA lifestyle selects, you can get only Democrats or only Republicans…so you could, for example, get only Irish-Catholic Democrats, by age, gender and geography.

Why on earth would you want to do such a thing?

You wouldn’t, unless you were going to customize your sales letter and enclosures, envelope, offer, everything specifically and precisely for the selected list.

As example, let us assume we are going to offer an Alaska cruise with stops for bear hunting and salmon fishing and the like to Orvis’ married multi-buyers of hunting and fishing gear and apparel who have bought items priced above $200.00.

To the Irish-Catholic Democrats, we might put a picture of John F. Kennedy on the outside of the envelope with a quotation about the beauty and wonder of the great outdoors but to the Republicans we might put a picture of Ronald Reagan on horseback with his similar quotations.

This is a bit of work, two different envelopes, find the photos, find the quotes. But for maximum leverage, we would carry this customization all the way through to the nth degree, in minute detail.

Testimonials should have Irish surnames.

The Democrats would get Al Gore, “green”, environmentalist language; the Republicans would get ・ what? I’m not sure….eat the polar bears….language.

The point is, were I going to sell something to Orvis’ customers, I would slice ‘n dice this list every which way I could, down to multi-selected micros-cosms and I would create entirely customized messages and mailing packages for each little sub-list.

With Hispanics and Asians, I’d do bi-lingual mailings (there’s abundant evidence it bumps response considerably).

LAZY, LAZY, LAZY MARKETERS often find themselves unable to profitably use direct-mail and rented lists SOLELY because they refuse to engage in this admittedly complex work, thus depriving themselves of the most sustainable,leveragable marketing advantage.


Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the 'Millionaire Maker,' helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan's "No B.S." approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to

4 Responses

  1. Dan’s always been a master at telling us to segment our lists and “niche down” so that the message matches the market. So many people mistakenly think they want to attract the WORLD, that by niching down they will miss some people.

    The opposite is true: speak directly to your market and they will feel included; speak to the world and no one will feel you are speaking to them. Admittedly you’ll need to create MORE messages that are laser-targeted, but that’s the BEST way to attract your audience and build your herd.

    Thanks for this helpful reminder.

    Charlie Seymour Jr

  2. Rob Anspach says:

    very true!

    a sharp shooter takes time to pinpoint and focus in on its prey and can do so from a far off advantage point…

    but a guy with a shotgun needs to be at close range to hit his target – and frankly it’s just way too messy

    segmentation of lists is like the laser – the more you know you break it, the better the results

    not segmenting your lists – is like the shotgun… you might hit something here and there, but most of the time its just not worth it.

  3. Once you have the segmentation down to a science, each and every customer sees their own reflection in the mail piece…

    If you study the info-summit website, and see how your “select your membership level” changes the offer text on the next page.. you realize how some legwork and careful crafting increases response so dramatically.

    great post…. as usual.

    Izzy Ginzberg

  4. Jim Rowe says:

    Send somthing to me I respond, send something to us I throw it away.

Leave a Comment