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Carpe DM!

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By Alan Rosenspan, President, Alan Rosenspan & Associates

Remember how much direct mail you used to receive?

How much time it took you to sort through it, see what was interesting or relevant, and select the envelopes you wanted to open?

Not anymore.

Direct mail volume is down significantly in the last quarter of 2008, and the first two quarters of 2009 - and it doesn't look to improve any time soon. 

The USPS® admits that volume is down 20% - but I think it's much, much higher. Plus it seems very few companies are investing in larger size or dimensional packages.

Which means now is a great time to send out direct mail for your company!

There's less competition, less clutter in the mailbox, and less likely for your direct mail to be lost in the shuffle. 

In a recent article in The New Yorker, James Suroweicki wrote about the real recession. 

"In the late nineteen twenties, two companies - Kellogg and Post - dominated the market for packaged cereal. When the Depression hit, no one knew what would happen to consumer demand. 

"Post did the predictable thing: it reigned in expenses and cut back on advertising. But Kellogg doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising, and heavily pushed its new cereal, Rice Krispies. 

"By 1933, even as the economy cratered, Kellogg's profits had risen almost thirty percent and it had become what it remains today: the industry's dominant player."

As you know, Carpe Diem is Latin for "Seize the Day." Today, it's "Carpe DM!"

You can take advantage of this historic opportunity - to use direct mail to reach more prospects, gain more customers, and get a better response than ever before.

Now is the time to increase your direct marketing initiatives with a fresh, targeted mailing list. Click here for a FREE list count!

---Source: Alan Rosenspan is an internationally renowned direct marketing expert and president of Alan Rosenspan & Associates. He has written over 100 articles for direct marketing publications around the world, which can be found at www.alanrosenspan.com. Email him at ARosenspan@aol.com.

How to Deal with "Do Not Mail" Mania

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By PostCom, Association for Postal Commerce

These days in the mailing industry undoubtedly are not the best of times. They may not be the worst either, but they certainly are challenging. For the past three years, those who use mail for business communication and commerce have had to deal with unrelenting attacks by self-styled critics of our industry and practices who are relentlessly pursuing state and federal legislation that would stringently limit your ability to use mail within your business.

These critics come in various guises. The most common centers on their "concern" over the environmental impact of mail. According to the stories they tell, anyone who uses mail within their business is guilty of destroying the world's forests, polluting our air and water, overfilling our landfills, and just about every other nasty behavior one can imagine.

In making their claims, they claim to offer "facts." What they offer instead are lies, myths, and the sharing of a general ignorance of who uses mail, the purposes for which it is used, the environmentally sound aspects of doing business by mail, and just about every other of the common sense and good economic reasons why the establishment and maintenance of a universal mail delivery system has been a hallmark of every country around the world.
Below are a set of links to help your business and foster our common goals of preserving and promoting the use of the mail for business communication and commerce.

The materials include model letters you can revise as you see fit to tell your employees and advertisers about the value of the mail and your response to junk mail attacks. There are also letters to the media and any group that is out to destroy your business by funding or supporting antimail legislation or negative consumer attitudes. There are fact sheets you can use on your company website, or otherwise, about the benefits of mail, and the real impact of ad mail on the environment.

Links to Important Information You Can Use

Start By Doing Homework At Home (Getting your employees informed and involved. A sample letter.)
Taking The Lies Head On (A sample letter.)
People In Glass Houses Should Never Throw Stones (Educate Your Environmental Colleagues. A sample letter.)
Working Effectively And Honestly With The Media (An excellent guide produced by media consultant Peter Miller.)
---Source: PostCom (http://postcom.org/eco/do.not.mail.mania.htm).

Prospect Better to Grow Existing Lists

@targetdart
Greg Grdodian, President, Edith Roman-ePost Direct

Do you know what you're doing? That's not a personal question. All mailers should ask it when building their customer lists. It means, simply, do you have a plan in place? 

If it's time to generate more top-line revenue, then it's time to grow your list. It should be done methodically, using tried-and-true direct marketing methods. 

First, outline your goals. Are you looking for quantity or quality? Are you seeking prospects or immediate customers? 

If it's quantity you want, you might be tempted to try social media, but you could end up with a glut of unqualified names. The best channels for generating customers are the traditional direct marketing ones. You'll get more meaningful data, and you'll have greater control. 

Start by profiling your existing customer file. Match it against a comprehensive business-to-business database and overlay firmographic data like SIC and employee size, and individual details, like text title. Once you've created your customer footprint, you are in the best position to acquire new customers. 

Next, prospect through the traditional channels, such as direct mail, e-mail, and telemarketing. You'll generate higher conversion rates when you use them together. And, you'll learn more about potential buyers--for example, how they like to respond. If it's postal, send an e-mail to trigger response to a direct mail piece. These insights (and others) can be used when the prospects become customers. 

Also, improve your ROI by negotiating multi-use volume deals. Don't drill down in a list to the point where there are no prospects, and stop mailing unresponsive names. Remember the IOU formula: Your copy should generate interest, offer a deal, and deliver a sense of urgency. 

Another way to build your list is through lead generation. Do you have a digital content library made up of white papers, e-books, webcasts, and analysts' reports? Syndicate it through websites, newsletters, and through b-to-b co-registration networks. Prospects can be qualified with a couple of simple questions. 

The Takeaway
Plan ahead, set reasonable goals, and understand the anticipated ROI. 

---Source: DM News Aug. 23, 2010 (www.dmnews.com)

Simple Rules to Make the Most of List Rentals

emailconnectedBy Dave Scott, CEO, Marketfish
The secret to successful list marketing is good testing. Unfortunately, many companies aren't sure how to test effectively. They simply rent a list of prospects, send out their e-mail to everyone on that list, and wait for the results. When their campaign isn't successful, they assume list marketing doesn't work, and never try it again.

If testing is done right, it can be a powerful tool for any direct marketer. The following rules will increase your chances of a successful list marketing campaign.

1) Test the right number of prospects and lists
Many companies start out too small or too large. Some rent a list with only 500 prospects for an e-mail campaign and get zero response from it. Other companies spend $50,000 for a list with one million prospects, only to find out later that they've sent their message to the wrong audience--or worse, that they bought a "bogus list" full of old, inaccurate contact information.

I believe an ideal test list size is 25,000 names. E-mail marketing is a large-numbers game. You need a certain amount of throughput for it to be effective.

Test multiple lists to find the most receptive prospects for your message. For example, if you send marketing e-mails solely to a list of CMOs, you will probably get a minimal response. You increase your chances of success if you test additional lists of VPs/directors of marketing, marketing managers, and even VPs of sales (who often influence marketing decisions).

2) Test the creative and subject header
I strongly recommend doing A/B split testing for your e-mail campaign. Test different versions of the subject header and creative, and then use the elements that get the best response. This will maximize your chances for a successful campaign.

You never know what a client will respond to. On a recent A/B split test, our client mistakenly sent out a test e-mail with only the word "Webinar" in the subject line. To our surprise, the "Webinar" e-mail got three times the response of the test e-mail with the well-crafted subject header.

3) Establish goals
Before you begin testing, establish goals for your list marketing campaign. Know how many leads (or sales) you hope to generate, and know your projected cost per lead (CPL). Then use the testing results to help meet your goals.

For example, say your CPL goal is $10 per lead, but the CPL in the first series of tests is $20 per lead. You can use these results to negotiate a better rental price for the prospect list.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was, "That which isn't measured doesn't improve." The more elements you test, the more likely you are to have a successful list marketing campaign.

---Source: DMNews June 23, 2010 (www.dmnews.com). Dave Scott is the CEO of Marketfish.

9 Things to Put in Your List Welcome Messages

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By Mark Brownlow, Email Marketing Reports

The list welcome message is the email that goes out to someone automatically and immediately once you add their email address to your list. They're often marketing disasters...using technical jargon to simply state that address X was added to List Y. Not very engaging.

The reason they're so bad is that they usually get set up as an afterthought, or they simply feature the pre-programmed message that the email delivery service offers as a default.

This is not good.

Why?

Somebody just felt interested and enthused enough about your products, services, or publications to request regular emails from you.

This is one of those precious marketing moments.

You've got the prospect's attention. You've got their interest. You've got their permission to send them an email.

And, how do you communicate with them in this glorious, elusive moment?

You send them a list welcome message.

That's why this message is important.

It arrives in that brief window of time when you're actually top of mind for all sorts of good reasons. So, it has far more potential impact on the relationship with the recipient, than just about any other email you're likely to send.

When you understand that, then the old "you have been added to our list," message seems a touch lame, no?

So, here's a quick overview of what you should have in that welcome message...

First, you need to include the mechanical basics:

1. Confirm that the action they took was successful: They have, indeed, been added to the list.

2. Let them know how or where they can modify their subscription or access past issues (don't forget the requirements of anti-spam legislation).

Not too exciting, so far. But, here's what you also need in there:

3. Thank the recipient for signing-up. A real thank-you. Like you mean it.

4. Remind them of what they're going to get in terms of content and publication frequency. This sets expectations appropriately. (Remember: If you don't meet expectations, they'll start to think of your emails as spam.) 

5. Remind them of how they will also benefit from this content.

6. Give an immediate feedback option. You do value your reader's opinion, don't you?

None of the above need take up much space in the welcome message. Now, what about grasping that opportunity we just identified?

7. Avoid a mechanical tone and talk to the recipient in a human, personable way (unless your brand forbids this). Sign the email with a real name--the editor, CEO, whoever makes most sense.

8. Avoid email marketing jargon unless your audience is email marketers. Words like "unsubscribe," "preference center," and "opt-in," won't mean anything to most consumers.

9. Reward the recipient for their interest. Surprise them with a sign-up bonus. 

Examples might be:
• A copy of your most popular content from previous emails.
• A coupon or some other special offer (especially if you have a sophisticated system that can link this offer to whatever it is they were looking at before they signed up).
• A "for-subscribers-only" white paper, article, presentation, or other useful document.
In essence, treat that list welcome message as an extremely valuable and important element in your relationship marketing efforts. Not as an afterthought.

You know that thing they say about first impressions? Well, it's true.

The welcome message is also a good place to put in a request to whitelist your "from" address.

---Source: Email Marketing Reports Aug. 2006 (www.email-marketing-reports.com).

Get Consumers' Attention with Local Listings

Manish Pate, CEO, Where 2 Get It 
Have you ever used Google Maps or Yahoo Local to find a restaurant nearby? If so, you've used one of the most powerful online tools available to large and small businesses. The completeness, accuracy, and consistency of this data--called local listings--can turn into a gold mine if the information is managed properly.

So, why are local listings so important? It's all about consumer usage. Since 2008, the trend towards longer keyword searches combined with a local indicator has made the local search field more competitive than ever. According to the most recent ComScore study completed in 2009 for 2008, local search grew 58 percent in 2008, reaching a year-long total of 15.7 billion searches. For comparison's sake, overall, US Web core searches hit 14.5 billion in February 2010, with 65.5 percent of the searches conducted through Google sites, followed by Yahoo at 16.6 percent, according to ComScore. 

Local search shoppers want convenience, are ready to buy now, and look for detailed and accurate information every time.   

As local search grew, Internet Yellow Pages and local online business directories saw double-digit growth of 23 percent in 2009 from 2008. In addition, the same ComScore study showed that 75 percent of the top 100 keywords searched on Internet yellow pages sites (IYPs) are non-branded, meaning consumers are searching phrases like "chicken sandwich Boise, ID."

Local search is the natural evolution of "yellow page" directory listings moving to the Internet and mobile devices. Listing data is submitted to major search engines and Internet yellow pages (IYPs), so that when a consumer includes a city name in a search, links to local listings are displayed. Consumers can click on these links to see detailed listings, find events, or even download coupons. Local listings are also submitted to navigation devices and mobile directories. Local directory syndication ensures that listings for your locations are detailed and accurate, including contact information, hours of operation, products and services, brands, payment methods, and more.

Another important aspect of local listings is optimizing companies' content to work with claimed listings. This includes: optimizing every local page; using a mapping service for all locations, like Google Maps, Bing Maps, etc.; writing driving directions for each location; using local area codes on phone numbers for each location; and adding a full address for each location. To further maximize these results, each location should submit their information to local directories and online yellow pages like yp.com, superpages.com, or citysearch.com

For franchisors or national businesses with multiple locations, the challenge then becomes claiming these local listings accurately across locations nationwide. This means maintaining your competitive edge, whether you sell burgers or tires. Each local listing must be completed with the top keyword phrases that your customers will use when searching for you, whether they are in Texas or Maine. And whether a franchise has 10 or 10,000 locations, each listing is equally important to that local businesses' ultimate success. 
With so many consumers seeking local listing information, it's vital that local and national advertisers, with local entities, proactively manage and improve their listings' accuracy to gain favorable positions in the local search results.
---Source: DMNews April 28, 2010 (www.dmnews.com). Manish Patel is CEO of Where 2 Get It (www.where2getit.com).

Use a Specialty Mailing List to Find Customers and Increase Sales

Anthony J Pensabene, Expert Author, EzineArticles.com 

When a business begins, its executives must think about what population the business' services and products can best help. The chosen population is known as the target market. Marketing and advertising initiatives are then geared towards intriguing the target market. Smaller businesses may not have a lot of resources to spend searching for the desired market, so smaller businesses utilize direct marketing leads or targeted lists.

A small business in search of bulk mailing lists has some options. List brokers rent information from sources containing customer contact information such as magazines, newspapers, other companies, etc. In turn, the list brokers compose and rent lists to businesses searching for particular, customer populations.

Mailing list providers offer business-to-business lists, mortgage lists, new homeowner lists, and specialty lists. Specialty lists are sometimes referred to as custom lists, because the desired population is more eclectic and diverse.

Purchase mailing list prices are usually contingent on specifications, or how well detailed a target market is defined. A specialty list may come at a higher price, due to their custom-oriented makeup; a list broker service may have to access several pre-composed lists in order to fashion a list, which has all the desired specifications.

A small business searching for a direct mail marketing service can consider the following attributes of a specialty list:
- Estimated household income 
- Sex 
- Presence and number of children 
- Homeowner vs. renter 
- Trade show attendant 
- Ethnicity 
- Industry of business
Attaining a targeted list is only a part of the marketing effort. A small business needs to compose a marketing plan in order to attract business and gain sales from the lead list contacts. Using direct mail is one way to initiate contact with potential customers. This can include personalized letters, mention of sweepstakes, coupons for featured services and products, and so on. 

Free mailing software with first list purchase! 
Talk to a list specialist today for details. 

---Source: Anthony J Pensabene in an Expert Author at EzineArticles.com. Nov. 10, 2009 http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Anthony_J_Pensabene. 

Specialized Mailing Lists Make All the Difference

By Joy Gendusa, founder, PostcardMania

If there is one thing I can't say enough about, it is that the most important part of your mailing campaign is your mailing list. It is vital that you put the right amount of energy into learning about lists - who to mail to - so that your mailing efforts aren't wasted. There are a few different ways that you can get an adequately, targeted list.

As always, the first step is to determine who your target market will be. Should you market to consumers or businesses? For this example, consider that your product is a set of home woodworking tools. This should be marketed to consumers because it is not an industrial grade product. Good, now we have narrowed it down to only 291,324,219 people in the US. At a minimum, your mailing campaign should send to the same names, three times. So, all you have to do is send out 873,972,657 postcards at $0.185 per piece, and you get the point. We need to narrow it down some more.

So, how do you accomplish the narrowing of your list? Many factors can be considered, including: age; gender; ZIP Code™; annual salary; profession; and number of children are some of the more common qualifiers. It may take awhile to figure out what combination works for your specific product. Don't worry about political correctness when considering whom you should mail to. It is perfectly acceptable to test certain lists that may be considered "stereotypical." Many times these lists will work well. But you never know until you test them. 

A special eye cream would go to women over 40, right? You need not worry that you're targeting "older women," or that 40 is no longer considered old. No matter how great an idea you have about a certain market: ALWAYS DO A SMALLER TEST MAILING FIRST! Average test mailings run around 1000-1500 names. Once you see acceptable returns on the smaller mailing, then you can jump in with the larger numbers. You may think 40+ is a good age to start with the eye cream, but you may get better results purchasing age 50+. Test, test, test!

Sometimes, like with our home woodworking tools, you have a product or service that you cannot adequately narrow your list by the normal qualifiers. You can make certain assumptions about people who are woodworking hobbyists--mostly male, probably homeowners--but what else do you really know? 

At this point you may want to consider using a privately "managed" list. These lists are going to cost more per name, but will give you a much better way of pinpointing possible customers. For example, you could order the subscriber list for Fine Woodworking Magazine. The cost per name would be $0.095 per name, compared to the normal average cost of $0.05 per name. These names are nearly double the cost; however, you are guaranteed that all of the names you get are for people interested in woodworking, and therefore, are much more likely to be interested in your product. 

Managed Lists are not appropriate for all situations, but can be a major help when a very specific target is needed. Don't fret over the extra cost, the more targeted names will undoubtedly show greater overall returns in the end.

The purpose of special mailing lists is to target a specific type of customer for your specific type of business. The eventual end result is more customers and a better bottom line. And this is what we all want, right?

---Source: Joy Gendusa is the founder of PostCardMania (www.PostcardMania.com). 

How To Own Your Local Consumer Market With Saturation Mailings

By Bob Martel, president, JMB Marketing Group

If you do business locally, or want to enter a new market area quickly, you don't want to overlook the value of a saturation mailing within a radius of your business, or across a specific ZIP Code™. The USPS® is standing by, waiting to help you deliver a cost-effective message to your new prospects!

Imagine having a sales person that never calls in sick and consistently delivers your company's best sales pitch to everyone within a three mile radius of your business. Marketing Nirvana if you do business locally, right? Imagine that you can hire this sales person for about 20 cents per sales call, with a guarantee that he or she will "knock on every door you specify," with the exact same offer presented in the same way, to every prospect. 

What is old is indeed new again, especially for small businesses trying to expand in their local market. Long before CRM became the acronym for customer relationship management, it had a different meaning: carrier route marketing, which also describes what is more commonly known as "saturation mailing." 

Ever wonder what that "R003" or "C007" means on the mail that lands in your mailbox? These numbers identify the carrier route in which you live, in the order that mail is delivered along the route. According to the USPS, approximately 20 percent of the 52 billion flats delivered in a year are saturation mailings, in automatic walk sequence order. Local mailings are certainly not new, but this direct marketing strategy may be new for you! Ignore it at your peril, because your competitors may be hijacking all of your prospects using this common sense marketing method.

If you are familiar with the classic Acres of Diamonds by Russell H. Conwell, you will appreciate the strategies presented in this article. There are, quite literally, acres and acres of diamonds under your feet, or more accurately, within five to 10 miles of your business. It has never been easier or more cost effective to blanket a radius with an introductory offer, or target specific neighborhoods based on the profile of your current customers and best prospects. The tools are a click away, and with a shameless plug for this newsletter, I recommend you start by using the free lookups at the Melissa Data Website. 

There is a wealth of free information about your local market that can help you develop and refine a smart, local direct mail program. Keep in mind, that while saturation mailings offer certain advantages, you have to follow the rules for "walk sequencing" and for pieces delivered along a carrier route. 

Here are a few points to ponder as you develop a carrier route or saturation mailing:
Saturation mailing lists are available by a single ZIP Code, a group of ZIP codes, or by specific carrier routes. They are very inexpensive lists, so consider buying the data for a given radius, a ZIP Code, or an area, and then selecting carrier routes based on your campaign. 
• The US Postal Service® has an excellent educational tool to help you develop smart mailing strategies for your business. Postal Explorer will help you harness the power of mail in growing your business. Start your journey at www.pe.usps.com and click on Business Mail 101 or by downloading the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®).
• Involve your local mail house, direct marketing consultant or list broker in your mailing strategy. Make sure they are well versed in their mailing advice so you are able to take advantage of the best postal rates for your specific campaign goals. A saturation mailing can save you, on average, about 50 percent in mailing costs. Verify this for your campaign with your mailing experts. While I prefer First-Class Mail® for one-to-one communications, saturation mailings can include the prospects name. None of us like receiving mail addressed to "Occupant," but mail to "Mrs. Jane Smith or Current Resident," works!
• On-line mapping tools make it possible for you to see where your customers live and allow you to develop a neighborhood marketing campaign based on carrier route information. For example, using the free LookUps at www.melissa.com you can see average income and average home value for specific carrier routes which may factor into your marketing message and offer. At the Melissa Data Website, you can see carrier route maps for any ZIP Code, as well as demographic data. You can print carrier route maps in PDF format directly from the LookUps Web site. Check it out. Go to www.Maponics.com if you need a professionally printed map! 
• It is not always prudent to mail an introductory offer to prospects and customers alike. I suggest you consider treating these two groups differently, with a unique message and offer. Using data processing tools such as Melissa Data's MatchUp software to suppress your customer list from the saturation mailing list, allows you reach both existing customers and new prospects, without sending any duplicate mail pieces.
Regardless of whether you are contemplating a saturation mailing or not, I recommend buying the list for your market area, suppressing current customers, and mapping both groups so you can see where your customers and best prospects reside. This market intelligence can help you prioritize your spending, select specific neighborhoods for targeted efforts, and also decide which customers you want to approach for a testimonial!

Saturation mailings may not always be appropriate, so plan carefully. Keep in mind that sometimes a First Class stamp is the best way to get your sales message delivered, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. Read Melissa Data's white paper on the subject here: www.melissadata.com/whitepaper/saturation-mailing.asp  

If you really want to get creative about reaching your local market with a saturation mailing, or to reach specific prospects along a carrier route, you can stretch your postal dollars with a joint mailing from another local merchant. For example: a roofing company, a pizza parlor, and a retailer could share the cost of printing and mailing an oversized postcard with three strong offers to the homeowner. This is only recommended if all parties enjoy the same great reputation in their local market.

Of course, your mailing strategy is only one piece of the business growth game plan. Your marketing message, your offer, and how you treat your new customer when they respond are the true differentiators that lead to lasting customer relationships.

A final note: I have shone a flashlight on some great tools to help you get started with a saturation mailing program, or for targeting prospects right in your own backyard. Melissa Data's Website is a tremendous resource as I have already mentioned. If you are looking for some smart marketing methods for your saturation or carrier route direct marketing, yours truly has seven tips you'll value. Send me an email at the address below with "Carrier Route Marketing Tips" in the subject line. 

---Source: Bob Martel is a marketing consultant, direct marketing copywriter, and author of the book "How to Create All of the Business You Can Handle." Subscribe to his monthly newsletter: Marketing With Ease. Reach him at (508) 481-8383 or by email at bobmartel@jmbmarketing.com to request your free copy of 34 Reasons to Write A Sales Letter to Your Best Customers.
 

Create Your Mailing List

USPS® Website


An effective mailing list is more than names and addresses--it's a record of each person's buying behaviors. Your customer list can track how often they shop with you, what they typically buy, and how much they spend. Keeping track of your customers and their purchasing habits will help you to personalize offers and increase the likelihood of a sale and response. 


Here are some affordable ways to start your customer file: 

• Keep a guest book and encourage customers to sign it when they visit your business. 

• Hold a drawing and entice customers to enter their information for a chance to win a prize. 

• Develop a frequent buyer program and capture customer information on the application. 

• Make a customer feedback box and invite customers to include contact information. 

• Talk to your local Chamber of Commerce about how to establish a stronger business presence in your community. 

Consider renting a mailing list

Choose the people who are most likely to do business with you by keeping your current customers in mind and use their characteristics as a model to determine what you're looking for in a rental list. The more specific you are in defining these characteristics, the more effective your list will be. You can rent mailing lists from a list broker.


How to compile customer information

It helps to store and manage your customer information in an easily accessible way by keeping printed information filed in a binder, or by creating a simple customer file using spreadsheet software. 


As your customer file grows, you may want to consider investing in a contact management program. This type of software: 

• Keeps your customer database organized. 

• Tracks customer purchases and examines past mailing campaigns. 

• Develops specialized mailings for certain people or businesses in your customer database. 

• Determines which offers performed well in the past so you can model future offers after them. 

How to keep your mailing list clean

Save money and reduce your environmental impact with these tips: 

• Double-check the spellings of customer and street names. 

• Verify that each ZIP Code™ number matches the street address. 

• Use the correct ZIP + 4® Code for each address. 

• Cross-check lists to make sure the same individual doesn't appear more than once. 

---Source: USPS Make your own mailing list www.usps.com/directmail/createyourmailinglist.htm

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