Ask the Snail! Puzzled in Pennsylvania


Have a burning question about Direct Mail that you've been longing to have answered? Ask Zippy! Zippy the Snail has been in the field of marketing since its inception. His wisdom is unmatched to those other "couriers" out there, and he's about as direct as it gets! Submit your questions to

NaviStone Infographic Logo-1Dear Zippy,

I'm hoping you can help! We are in the process of reimagining our direct mail process.

Historically, we have suppressed all known customers from our prospecting efforts, but over the years we have seen the universe of available prospects continue to decline. It’s becoming harder and more expensive to prospect!

What are your thoughts on allowing long lapsed buyers into our prospecting efforts? And be honest, are we over suppressing when we omit all our known customers? 


Puzzled in Pennsylvania

Dear Puzzled in Pennsylvania,

My mother always told me never to answer a question with a question, but here goes! 

What is a prospect? 

“A prospect is a person who has been qualified as fitting certain criteria, fits the target audience…someone who is interested in the product and has the financial resources to buy it.” 

Given this definition, it can be argued that a company’s very best prospects are consumers whom have bought from them in the past. These consumers are already familiar with your brand and presumably have had a positive experience with your brand. The likelihood of getting them to buy today, if marketed to properly, is higher than someone who doesn’t have this experience. I would not suppress them from current prospecting efforts.

Now, the message you put in front of a prospect who has bought from you before may be different from the message you put in front of a consumer who has never bought from you before.

You know more about this prospect – what they have bought in the past and the channel in which they made this purchase. Use that information to make the message relevant.

And what about those lapsed customers who haven’t bought in several months or even longer, and are showing intent today? There is no better audience to prospect to.

The best indication of intent is a consumer who is currently browsing with your brand. That “browsing’ activity might be in your store which you may or may not know, but also someone who is currently browsing on your website, something you can know.

As marketers, our goal is to get consumers to buy from us, even if we define “buy” as “buy again” or “buy now”. There is no reason to limit your efforts by leaving your very best prospects behind.


Zippy the Snail

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