AARP is Conducting a Larger Score with Direct Mail

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July 31, 2012

If you know any one turning 50, you’ve probably heard about the relentless pursuit of their induction into AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). The cost of membership is a mere $16 a year, so it’s hard to fathom the cost effectiveness of sending someone up to three direct mail pieces a month, both six months prior and six months after the prospect’s 50th birthday.

Postage and printing alone, even with bulk rates, could make each multi-component piece cost more than 20 cents –  half the cost of membership if 36 direct mail pieces are sent to a prospect.

If you factor the additional expense of offering a free gift and the delivery cost once a person joins, how is AARP making enough money to run its 1,300 person nonprofit organization? Read on and learn they’re making billions, and it’s not from membership fees.

AARP’s Mailing List is Gold

With a membership base of more than 30 million people, AARP is the second largest membership group in the nation next to the Roman Catholic Church with 53 million members.  AARP’s army of members make up nearly one in five voters – hugely powerful and is even being called a “political war chest” this election year.

The list AARP has ingeniously built since 1947 enables the organization to throw $3 billion in lobbying weight around in Washington each year. Perhaps more importantly the AARP lends its name to eight businesses, including health insurance for seniors, that generates more than $10 billion a year and more than $35 million in advertising in its printed publications.

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AARP’s low dues bring prospects through the door and then their internal maestros of direct mail printing start working their sales magic alongside its advocacy efforts. AARP knows the names and addresses of more Americans than any other comparable organization in the U.S. and accounts for as much a 1.5% of the nonprofit third-class mail delivered every year.

How to Build or Buy a Golden Mailing List

In direct mail and multi-channel marketing, the quality and accuracy of the list is at least 60% of your campaign’s success. With numbers like that you need to spend more time on the list that many clients often allow.

Consumer Direct Mailing Lists

For consumer sales leads, the characteristics used to refine direct mailing lists might be a combination of the following:

  • Geographic (county, radius around a store or a neighborhood)
  • Demographic (income, gender, presence of children)
  • Behavioral (lifestyle activities,golf, photography, gardening, boating or shopping)
  • Methods/interests (online purchases or mail-order buyer for gardening, clothing or jewelry)
  • Life stage events (new parents, new homeowners, new movers or retirees)

Business Direct Mailing Lists

For business mailing lists, the characteristics used to segment a mailing list might be a combination of the following:

  • Geographic (county, radius around a store or a neighborhood)
  • Business type (Standard Industrial Classification or North American Industry Classification System)
  • Firmographic (company sales, annual sales amount, years in business)

Regardless if you build or buy your list, be sure you give it the attention it deserves.  Keep in mind that all lists are not created equal.  It is your list consultant that makes the difference.  Call Mail Print for help with your next list acquisition.

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