Your Guide to International Direct Mail

The new global economy is fast becoming a reality, will you be ready?

By Robert Imbriale, Business Coach


As a direct marketer, you should be aware of what's going on all around us. The world is becoming a much smaller place. International direct marketing is fast becoming the way of the 90s because there is tremendous demand for American high technology products, and computer hardware and software. In many nations, there are currently only very limited channels where people in these countries can acquire US made high technology products. Although there are many challenges to be met, international direct marketing can open up your company to a worldwide market many times the size of the US domestic marketplace, virtually over night!

Where Do You Start?

Start by choosing a single country. This will help minimize the confusion that can exist when dealing with too many diverse situations simultaneously. Many firms choose Canada as their first test market because of its close proximity to the US and its nearly identical marketplace. Language is not a problem, as only a small portion of the country is non- English speaking. A number of mailing list owners now offer Canadian selects on their mailing lists. This is a sure sign that some firms have already begun marketing to our northern neighbors!

Many brokerage firms are able to locate the best mailing lists in virtually any country. If you are thinking about marketing to Canada or any other country, simply call your list broker. Tell them what you want to sell and they'll not only help you find a mailing list, but advise you on many other important considerations such as postal regulations, currency differences, best time to mail, and so much more. More than just a list peddler, your broker is your full-time direct marketing consultant.

International Mailing Lists

Although some countries do not yet have automated postal systems, the vast majority do and they offer reliable, timely deliverability of your direct mail pieces. Finding a quality mailing list for a foreign country can present a real challenge to the unskilled. Many list brokers now have complete international brokerage services that are capable of locating the lists you need in virtually any part of the world. Through extensive use of electronic databases, most of these lists can be located in as little as 24 hours.

Your broker should understand that your needs will vary from project to project and that demands constant attention to detail in order for your direct marketing campaign to succeed. Be sure your list broker stays on top of the latest new from other countries that may or may not be politically and/or economically stable.

Getting Your Mail into a Foreign Country

Besides finding the right lists, the next challenge you'll face is physically getting your mail delivered in a foreign country. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this rather complex task is to use the services of an international mail consolidator. One such firm, Brokers Worldwide, is a US based international mail broker that can help make getting your mail delivered a breeze. These firms specialize in these sorts of mailings and can offer more than just mail consolidation, they can also offer you valuable advice on what to expect from your mailings to other countries. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

Payment - Foreign Currency

Many firms have found that by accepting popular bank credit cards such as VISA, MASTERCARD, and AMERICAN EXPRESS, they have virtually eliminated the problems of currency exchange. These type of transactions also help secure payment before you ship out any product. If you insist on accepting checks, simply make sure that they are drawn on a US bank. Some international mailers claim that requesting a US drawn check actually hurts their international sales and that bank debit cards are much more effective. Be sure to check with your bank prior to accepting foreign credit cards.

Shipping Products Internationally

This is quite possibly the most difficult part of marketing internationally. Many countries have tariffs and other types of duties on imported goods, so it is best to look into each country individually for the type of products you intend to export. Every country is different and every product category is subject to different rules and regulations. The best way to find out what regulations you will be subject to is to contact the local embassy for each country. Foreign embassy staff is generally well versed in these matters and can easily point you in the right direction.

Your international mail consolidator may also be able to offer you international shipping services for your orders. Ask them about such services and find out how much they will cost when deciding on what to charge to cover shipping and handling costs.

Where To Start

The key to any international mailing project is to begin with only a single country. Most mailers have found that mailing into Canada is the best place to start. Canada is mostly English speaking and their lifestyle is not all that different from our here in America. In a relatively short period of time, many mailers will have found success in Canada and will begin to move to other international markets.

Europe is often the next choice for most mailers. Recent studies have shown that many countries in Europe have great demand for American made products and most consumers are willing to pay a premium for our exports.

If you're really ready to begin marketing internationally, even if you just decide to target Canada, contact your list broker and ask for a free list recommendation for the type of product or service you are planning on marketing. What you will receive is a list of available lists of prospects in your target market in the country of your choice. From that list, you can select the list and or lists you will mail.

Next, contact your international mail broker and ask for pricing on how much you expect to pay to send mail to your target country. Don't forget to ask about different types of mailings that may save you some money. Much like our postal system, many countries offer different classes of mail and lower costs to volume mailers. Ask about what's available and how reliable a service you can expect.


As we move towards the 21st century, the global marketplace will continue to expand as more and more international markets become accessible to even the smallest mailer. Don't over-look the fact that many international markets offer higher response rates than can be expected here in the US. In fact, a response rate of 4% is not uncommon. That's about double some of the best response rates here in America!

International prospects typically receive far less direct mail than we do. Therefore, your direct mail message will stand a far better chance of getting noticed, opened and if you've chosen the right list, you'll be in a much better position to get the order! Don't ignore these new markets! Even if you only test a few thousand pieces, I urge you to test the new global marketplace. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you'll find!


Resource Information

Mr. Imbriale is a nationally recognized Business Coach, Speaker, Copywriter, and Author of "Internet Marketing Secrets." Many companies nationwide have used his marketing techniques to dramatically expand their businesses without spending a fortune. If you would like a Free Business Check-Up for your business, a seminar schedule, or would like to order a copy his book, contact Mr. Imbriale's office toll-free at 1-888-226-8109 or via e-mail at

Brokers Worldwide can be reached at 1-800-624-5287. Call Mr. Gary Shunk for more information about mailing internationally and to receive a free copy of the Brokers Worldwide monthly newsletter.

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