How to find business owners' names & addresses

When marketing to businesses, whether it is through cold-calling, direct mail or telemarketing, knowing and using the owner's name will significantly improve the success rate. But finding the names and addresses can be a difficult task. If the prospects are large public companies, there are many published databases that can provide information. But for small, privately-held businesses, getting the details can be challenging. Perseverance will pay off---there are ways to get the information if you know where to look.

Call the company and explain to the receptionist that you have something to send to the business owner and want to make sure that it is addressed correctly. Ask them to spell the name, even if it seems obvious---there are different ways to spell even the most common names. If you would rather not call the company, going to its web site will often give the name of the owner---the "About Us" page is a good place to start.

Call or visit the local government office responsible for registering businesses and issuing licenses and ask for details for the companies in which you are interested. If you have a number of businesses to investigate, look for details online---many agencies have access to records from their websites. Another option to try is looking up the local Better Business Bureau web site and search for the company details. You can often find a directory listing for companies on their site. Chamber of Commerce sites are also worth searching.

Search the records available online at Directory Assistance Plus for either individual businesses or for all businesses in a category for a specific location. Clicking on the business name will give you the owner's name and address, as well as the number of years in business. For public companies, search Hoovers' database. Or try its parent company, Dun & Bradstreet.

Searching record lists one name at a time can be an onerous task if you want a large lists of prospects. In this case, you can purchase access to a private database such as InfoUSA or Melissa Data, or buy a list from a broker. With these options you should get a trial sample first and test it, as many of these commercial lists are out of date. It is also possible to buy CD sets containing business names and addresses, but they are certain to have inaccuracies due to the elapsed time taken to produce and distribute them.

If all other methods to find business owners' name and addresses have failed, there is one final option: Use a skip tracer. They charge for their services, but some of them will provide a refund if they are unable to provide requested details. For most marketing activities, this is probably an extreme way to get information, but it is available if needed.

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