Monday, July 6, 2009

Reputable Mail Companies-How to Find Them

Many of the dealers I work with have told me lately that they've received more sales calls regarding direct mail lately than ever before. Automotive Direct Marketing providers are directly linked to the Automotive Industry, so we, like you have seen the impact on our businesses.
As much as I would love it if everyone who read this blog contacted me for their mail needs, I also realize some of you are just trying to figure out who is legit in this game and who isn't. Here are just a few red flags and questions to ask to separate the quality from the...not.
How long have they been in business? and How long have they been in business under their current name?
There are a lot of businesses that have "closed" under AG scrutiny & lawsuits and have reopened under new names. The names have changed but the people haven't.
What's the level of professionalism with this company?
If they don't have a website, or any marketing material, or even a solid address--any or all of these could be a red flag. Professional companies have marketing collateral, samples, desks and a website. That's not to say that some professional companies aren't smaller and may have fewer resources than some of the big boys--but taking the time to do a little research in this area is time well spent.
How do they feel about providing you with postal verification?
Some companies try to get around sending postal documentation to their customers. These are your basic documents from the post office that says how much mail was sent and how much money was paid in postage. If they are strange about providing these up front-that's probably not good.
Where do they fall on the price line?
I know you don't want to hear this but cheaper isn't always better. If they are considerably less expensive than anyone else you've spoken to, ask more questions. With the economy like it is some companies are truly just trying to stay in business--for some that could mean selling their product at cost to keep people & machines working, for others that could mean telling you 30,000 pieces of mail are being sent out and sending out 10,000.
Have they challenged any of your ideas?
You know cars. I know mail, and so do some other mail professionals. Those of us that do this to help dealers are not afraid to tell you when we feel something is a bad idea or to suggest something different to help increase your results. We don't do this to be know it alls-we do it to assist you. It's your choice if you want to listen to us :) Beware the mail company that doesn't have any insights to share. They may only be in it for one sale and one pay day.
What does your gut tell you? Intuition is our best friend when it comes to things like this. If you don't trust the person on the other end of the phone (or on the other side of your desk), why would you hand them a check? If something doesn't feel quite right it probably isn't.
There are many, reputable, quality mail providers out there. Go with someone that has a proven track record, industry knowledge and plenty of references for you to contact.
This post is intended to educate. By no means am I implying a company that falls into one or more of these categories is practicing illegal or immoral business. This isn't directed at any particular company-please don't send me hate mail :) Thank you!

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