We would all prefer to mail to individuals by name, if possible. But sometimes that option is not available to us.

This is most often the case when you are mailing to job titles that are lower ranked than senior executives.

Here’s why:

Most corporate databases like infoUSA, Duns and Hoovers – even specialized industry-specific databases – only gather the names of senior executives such CEO, president and CFO.  Some vice president titles may be available,but you go down the corporate ladder, fewer names exist in the database.   In which case, you are probably stuck with mailing to job titles.

Generally when targeting lower-ranked titles, it is better to look at job-related magazines (trade journals) or membership associations as possible list sources. We call these response lists because the people on these lists actually took action to subscribe or join. Response lists are usually better lists (meaning more responsive) than corporate databases.

So if you were targeting Human Resource directors, for example, you might consider the subscription list of HR Magazine or Employee Relations.

These and other lists would help you reach Human Resources directors and no one else.

The only problem is these are usually national lists. And although you can target specific zip codes or states, your quantities typically come in very low – far below the minimums.

Remember that subscribing to a trade journal or joining an association is a voluntary activity that may involve small percentage of your overall target market – so again, if targeting Human Resource directors, you might be reaching only 10, 20 or 30% of all the Human Resource directors in your market.

So what to do?

I always recommend using whatever names we can get – especially those from the response lists because they have already demonstrated a willingness to respond.

But then I would go back to the corporate databases and find the companies that fit my customer profile – specific SIC codes, company size by sales volume or number of employees, and, of course, my geographical area.

When you merge these lists together, you will have one master list of companies – some with names but most without names.

I then attach at job title (Attn: Human Resource Director) to those companies that do not have names.

Intuitively, using a job title only seems like a very impersonal way to communicate with a prospect – and it is – but at least it gets there. And don’t believe for a minute that people who are interested in what we have to offer wouldn’t respond because we didn’t use their name.

That would be silly.

A personalized mail piece may be the preferred way to go, but title addressing can work too.

The one advantage with title addressing is that you don’t have to worry about people changing jobs. If you’re using names, and that person moves on, your mail piece might go to the replacement or it might get tossed.


Written by Bob McCarthy

This article may be reprinted without permission as long as the article includes the following credit: Bob McCarthy is a freelance copywriter and consultant specializing in direct marketing and lead generation. His website is He can be reached at 508-473-8643 or by email at

About Bob McCarthy

Bob McCarthy is a direct response consultant and copywriter with a focus on direct mail, email and digital marketing. Bob works with B2B, B2C and Non-Profit clients. You can download his free ebook, "Making Snail Mail Work: 13 Lessons in Direct Mail Strategy."