Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How much is too much direct mail?

I know it's shocking, someone in the direct mail business even mentioning there is such a thing as too much direct mail. I'm here to tell you it's true, there is such a thing. With the economy like it is a wider variety of dealers are looking to direct mail as an advertising tool. It is one of the few forms of advertising that is absolutely track-able, and it does a great job of creating some excitement. After a few successful events, it's easy to want to do mail every week or month and hope for the same results. Is that the right plan for you and your dealership? Really, only you and your direct mail consultant can determine that, but here are some general guidelines.
  • Look at your market-Get a list count from your mail company & a map. Map out all the areas you typically hit, and find out how many people are in each area. Think about if there are any other areas you think you could draw from. Today there are many small towns losing franchise dealers--those people will have to go somewhere.
  • Split it up-Our Owner loves analogies. His favorite in this case is to think about your market as a dartboard with the bulls eye being your dealership. Using this "Bulls Eye" marketing method it makes sense that the spots closest to the center are worth more to you and those farther out less. Instead of just going after the low hanging fruit, closest to your store, over and over, think of dividing the market into pie slices instead. This way you should be able to expect similar traffic results on each campaign because you get a good mix of your market with every "slice."
  • Make a Schedule-This seems to be the hardest part. With every type of mailer (database, service, used car events, new car, etc.) you should never hit the same household with the same type of message more than every 3 months in most cases. If you like sending scratch off mailers out 20,000 pieces a month, there should be at least 60,000 people in the market you defined. On the flip side if you only send out 10,000 pieces once a quarter, yet there are 30,000 potential homes in your market you are missing out. The caveat to this is however, is the dealers that see Direct Mail can also be used for name recognition marketing, much like some of your more general TV and Radio spots. If this is the schedule you are putting together than you can certainly hit the same person more than once a quarter.

Once you've looked at your market, split it up into sections and made a schedule choosing zip codes becomes automated. In most cases your mail provider can probably just keep track of it, and you won't have to do anything! The best part is, you can rest easy knowing you've already carefully chosen & strategized about the people you are targeting.

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