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List Wednesday - Business List Demographics: Business Size

By Dan Anglin, Manager, List & Data Solutions, Modern Postcard

Every Wednesday, our mailing list expert Dan Anglin shares information with you about each of the list demographics we offer to nail down your exact target audience. Please share your thoughts with us and ask your own list-specific questions by emailing him directly at: dana@modernpostcard.com. Then tune in weekly for tidbits to help every list purchase give you the most bang for the buck possible.

Targeting businesses of a certain size is a very common strategy for almost every direct marketer out there. Almost all of them are shooting for a “Goldilocks” model to where they need to find the “not too hot” and “not too cold” pool of prospects to market to.

Through compiled business lists, D&B or InfoUSA, there are two selections you can use to target businesses by size: Employee Size and Annual Sales.

Which selection is more reliable? Two questions:

  1. How many total businesses are there in the United States?
  2. How many of them are publicly traded?


Think on that while we talk about how information is compiled.

First, through public records, D&B and InfoUSA look at Annual Reports and other filings to see what the business reported for head count and annual sales. Since privately held firms don’t need to release earnings to the public, that information can remain private, creating a hole in the compilation process.

  • Approximate number of businesses in the US: 20 Million
  • Approximate number of publicly traded companies: 6,000


Yeah, that can create a pretty big hole.

The second avenue to compile data is to call every business on their list. When D&B and InfoUSA call, they typically talk to either the receptionist or the owner if it’s a small company. They run through a series of questions, eventually getting to the topic of business size where they ask about sales figures and how many people work there.

Which question do you think is answered more often and more accurately? Without a doubt, Employee Size. For the receptionist, it’s much easier for them to figure out how many people he or she works with and not feel as if they’re breaking company policy by releasing the info over the phone. If they were asked about sales, they likely would not know or throw a dart at the board and report that figure. As for the business owner, he or she would likely decline to answer the sales question (very understandable).

Now with all that being said, which selection do you think is more reliable when targeting businesses by size? That’s right, Employee Size instead of Annual Sales typically pulls the most accurate information available.

INSIDER TIP: Modern Postcard has relationships with both D&B (available online through our list portal and offline through sales team) and InfoUSA (available offline through the sales team), which enables us to provide you access to one or both at the same, if not at lower cost than if you went direct. Which one is better for you to use? Depends, call or email me to learn more.

Dan Anglin
Dan Anglin

With over 10 years of list industry experience, Dan Anglin currently oversees the List & Data Solutions division of Modern Postcard, headquartered in Carlsbad, CA.

Dan works with big and small mailers alike, from your local furniture store to the Fortune 500. An expert in the field, he's led certification classes on list services for the San Diego PCC, lead info sessions for the San Diego DMA & is a key speaker for Modern Postcard’s National Direct Mail Crash Course seminar series, sponsored by the United States Postal Service.




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