How to Identify and Select the Target Market for Your Direct Mail Marketing Campaign

In this article, we’re delving into our first step of the ten we outlined in our recent blog post “10 Steps to Creating a Direct Mail Marketing Plan.” Today, we’re providing details for step one; identifying your target market, which is needed to create a profitable direct mail marketing campaign. In this post, we’ll help you create a focused, laser-targeted group for an effective campaign.

As Edward Nash, the father of Direct Mail puts it, when it comes to identifying your target market, “There is only one common denominator that you can count on – interest in your product” (Nash, 2000, p. 56). And while your first response may be to design your advertising for the masses, you must take the time to narrow your audience to a pointed group in order to get the best ROI.

So, where does one start when there’s little to no information to pull from? While the speediest method might be to categorize customers into income, age, and education groups, it’s rare that these are the only important factors. In fact, there are some instances where one or more of these factors don’t matter at all [1]. It’s for this reason that you should identify key attributes about individuals within your target audience who might benefit from your product or service.

The next possible solution to creating your target market is to identify similarities in the people who’ve bought your products in the past. Take a look at your best customers and see what information you can glean from this group. This is a good first start, but prospective customers may not always look like ones who’ve bought from you in the past and this can limit your reach when creating a campaign.

To help you start creating a focused, laser-targeted group for an effective campaign, ask yourself these basic questions about your product or service:

  • Who needs it?
  • Who doesn’t currently use it that might be convinced to use it?
  • What does your product or service provide in terms of benefits or outcome?

Speculating on attributes that may apply to your target market will often be incorrect. Running measured tests by mailing to different lists (more on that in upcoming blogs), and identifying the attributes of your current client base, will be most helpful in targeting a prospect base.

Once you’ve got your broad, semi-targeted group, you must further narrow it into segments [2]. To do this in a worthwhile way, you could consider targeting your audience through various events such as:

Actions of a customer or prospective customer

  • Example – Someone who recently listed their house for sale will likely need a moving service in the near future.

Events of a competing business or trending product/service

  • Example – If someone regularly buys their dog food from a brick and mortar business that is shutting down, your subscription pet food offer could appeal to these customers.

Demographics and psychographics

  • Example – Don’t ignore the usefulness of taking the time to identify groups who would NOT be interested in your services as a method of eliminating groups. This could save you just as much (if not more) time and budget as pinpointing the people who would potentially use your products or services.

Simply put, doing the research and investing the resources needed to refine your prospect base will help you make smart and profitable decisions when selecting an initial target audience. As you move through the process of testing (more on that in future blogs), your audience will become more defined with each campaign.


  1. Nash, Edward. Direct Marketing: Strategy, Planning, Execution. New York City: McGraw-Hill, 2000. Print.

About Genesis Direct

The key to better direct marketing and relationship building is getting the most relevant message to the right people, at the right time. Our integrated variable data printing process does just that. By applying the latest technologies, Genesis Direct is equipped to better understand and more effectively target customers and prospects by spotting trends and cross-referencing behavior patterns. Then, putting this knowledge to use by crafting truly customized one-to-one direct marketing campaigns that inspire action, we reach these targets more meaningfully and more profitably. Waste is minimized and spot-on insights replace CPM guesswork as relevance becomes the key. With our help, you will reach a willing audience that’s most inclined to engage in your offer. For nearly 25 years, we’ve been all about creating better relationships. 

For a free consultation and to learn how we can help your business grow, call or email our Senior Account Executive, Mike McNally at (813) 610-5931, [email protected], or visit us online today.