Develop Your Free Mailing List - A Step By Step Process

Save your marketing dollars in this tough economy

In this article I will provide a step by step process to create a free mailing list for your direct mail marketing campaign.  The cost of the mailing list can often time be more expensive than the printing and postage of your marketing piece.  You can literally cut your marketing costs in half by creating your own lists using this method.  This method takes a small amount of time, but it will save you a lot of money.


Step 1 : Determine Specifics About Your Target Audience.  If you are targeting businesses, research the SIC codes for the businesses that use your product/service and the geographic area you want to target.  Each different type of business has a specific SIC code. A great website for SIC code research is

If you are targeting individual people, determine who your audience is based on geography (zip codes, area codes, etc).  You can also filter based on estimated annual income, whether or not they are a homeowner, etc.


Step 2: Access A Free Reference Program.  Once you have determined your target you can access a reference program from your local library.  Most big city libraries will have online access to these reference materials, so you won't have to actually go down to the library, you just need a library card number.  If you don't have a library card, you will need to plan a trip down to the library to sign up for one, but then that is it, you can do the rest of the work from the comfort of your home or office. Most library websites will have a button for "Online Research Tools"  These online research/reference materials will include newspaper and magazine articles, auto repair info, etc. 

The reference material we are interested in is called Reference USA®.  This is a service that libraries pay for.  Your tax dollars pay for your local library, so you have already paid for this service. 

Log into the service using you bar code from your library card.  When you reach the Reference USA® homepage You can select US Businesses, or US Standard White Pages (for residential).  NOTE: if you access the Reference USA site without using your library card to login, you will not have the ability to search and find the mailing list info you need.


Step 3: Use The Reference Program to Create A Manageable Sized Mailing List.  For this example lets say we have a business that repairs printing equipment for print shops.  Lets say we are located in Sacramento. You would click on Business Type, then when it expands, you would type in 275202 in the SIC codes box (The SIC code for print shops).  It also lets you do a lookup right there is you do not know the SIC number.  Next you would click on Geography and expand that category.  Then click the box next to Metro Area. Scroll down and select state of CA, then select the Sacramento Metro Area.  Once that is done, you want to click on the blue button for update count.  It shows that there are 411 business records for this search.  You have created a manageable sized mailing list.


Step 4: Download Your Records And Create A Mailing List In Excel.  This next part is a little bit tricky, but it works if you follow the instructions and take a little bit of time and effort.  This is where you can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars on your marketing efforts over the course of a year. 

In the Reference USA® system, we now have 411 records that we want to export and create a mailing list from.  The library system is limited, and it only lets you download 25 records at a time.  No problem, we'll just create 17 spreadsheets, and then merge them into one, and save ourselves money in the process.

Next. click on the green "View Results" button.   It will bring up a screen that shows all 411 results.  You can see the company names and make sure the list is one that you need.  If the data looks good, begin saving the results in groups of 25.  To save the data, click check box in the upper left hand side next to company name.  This will check all 25 records on that first page.  Then click the blue download button near the upper right.  This will bring up a new screen.  I suggest saving the files as Excel and also selecting detailed information.  Click "Download Records" This will create a file name and save the first 25 records.  Next, Click "Back" then you will be at the screen with the 25 records and the boxes checked next to them.  Click the box at the upper left hand corner to uncheck all 25 records.  Then advance to page 2 of the records.  Click the box at the upper right hand corner to select the next 25 records.  Save them as we did  earlier.  Repeat this process 17 times until you have 17 excel files, each with a small piece of the whole list of 411 records.  Helpful Hint: If you want the detailed records, you have to click it each time, every time you go to download a section of records, it defaults back to summary.  I really like the extensive info available in the detailed records.

Next open up a master excel spreadsheet, and then open up the 17 files that were created.  Then copy and paste the info from those 17 separated excel spreadsheets into one master sheet.  It doesn't really matter if you mess up the order, because you can go back later and sort alphabetically.  Sorting alphabetically can also be a way to make sure you didn't copy one of the files more than once.  The next check is to scroll down and make sure that you have 411 records.  This whole process should take 15 to 20 minutes for a list of this size.  Do it slowly and methodically to make sure there are no errors.


Step 5: Create Your Mailing Piece And Mail It To Your New Mailing List.  Since you saved money on generating your list, you can spend a little more on your marketing piece.  One site I recommend for small business is  I have used them several times to get a small marketing mailer done, or simple website changes.  Usually it just costs $50 to $100 to get someone to do the work.

Once the artwork is done for your mailing piece, get it printed up.  One company I have used several times is  They do a great job with high quality printing.  You can select from different quality paper stocks, different sized mailings, and different finishing options.  I like the fact that they do not have a one size fits all response to printing.  Their site allows you to have the items printed up and mailed to your location, or you can upload your new free mailing list and they will print and mail your marketing piece for you.

For business to business marketing I highly recommend a phone call to followup after your mailer.  You will have much greater success with a phone call followup compared to just a mailer alone.


This process can be tweaked to meet your own specific needs.  You can use these steps to create a mailing list for residential customers instead of businesses.  You can also use these steps to create a much larger mailing list.  Sky is the limit, you can create mailing lists thousands of records long.  Detailed mailing lists with 2500 records can cost between $1000 and $1500.  Save that money for hard costs such as printing and mailing.

I hope you found this article helpful.  If I get a decent response I will put up more articles along the same topic. 


Thank You - Great_Ideas


Step 2: Access A Free Reference Program

Easy Steps to Create a Free Mailing List

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Start Your Search Screen

Select Business Type and Geography to follow the steps outlined above.


Enter the SIC Code for your Free Mailing List

Enter the SIC code as described above in step 3

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Step 3 for your Direct Mail Marketing List

Select the Geographic Area to target for your list

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Refine Your List

Click the Blue Update Count button to refine your list down to the relatively few records you need.

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Actual records on your free mailing list

Download these records 25 at a time then combine them into a master spreadsheet

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