Moving in Moving up

Retailers stir up new business by targeting “new movers.”

Since opening Smith’s Service Center (Lancaster, PA) in 1979, John Smith had tried advertising in the Yellow Pages and utilizing the Welcome Wagon service to ferret out new customers, but he’d experienced limited, immeasurable results.

“There were seven similar businesses to mine in the Welcome Wagon package,” says Smith. “It cost me upwards of $150 a month for a year, and we didn’t get a single response. Even when I wanted out, I was signed into a one-year contract. So when I read about Moving Targets not needing a contract, it caught my eye.”

Moving Targets (www.movingtargets.com) is a direct mail program that targets new movers. Using county courthouse deed transfer names, credit bureau records, magazine and catalog subscription address changes and utility company records, Moving Targets can create a database of potential customers who just moved into the area. For no minimums and with no contract, the company creates individually written letters with specific features and benefits of a company, along with a custom designed gift certificate showcasing a retailer’s “generosity.”

“There’s a fertile market in people who move,” says Jay Siff, CEO of Moving Targets.

“Research shows that 67% of new movers’ No. 1 fear is who will work on their vehicle. We can drill down our data to specific incomes, apartment dweller versus homeowner and gender. This lets us more accurately find people that are in need of specific services.”

Smith merely had to provide some basic information about his business and what he wanted to achieve with the service. The first mailing, sent out two years ago, went to about 130 new movers in the area with a $25 coupon; he paid a fee of $1.39 per piece. With a response rate of about 12 new customers per mailing, Smith has continued to utilize Moving Targets’ services each month since.

“I’ve never used anything as effective,” says Smith. “We may see eight to 12 coupons returned in a month—that’s eight more than the Welcome Wagon delivered in a year.”

Moving Targets has produced return rates from 20% to 30%. For some mailings, results have skewed as high as 50%.

Siff cautions that Moving Targets is not for everyone. The bulk of his customers are small, mom-and-pop retailers that provide a specific service, ranging from pizza parlors to car washes to service stations. It’s that specific nature that makes these businesses destinations for new movers. But as convenience stores continue to diversify their offerings, there is potential for Moving Targets to work for them.

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