Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Best Direct Mail Strategy...Is to have one!

When I first started in this business almost exactly six years ago I was handed a somewhat up to date list of most of the dealerships in the state of Ohio and a phone. Sure, we had a little training - but a few hours in a conference room surrounded by glossy pieces of paper and some pricing sheets can't prepare anyone for what we do...but little can.

Those first few dealers I worked with probably signed up for different reasons...I caught them on the day they were planning to seek out a direct mail vendor, or they thought I sounded young, dumb & blonde on the phone (I was only 2 of the 3), whatever the reason they didn't agree to do a mailer with me because of my experience or knowledge. I like to think a lot has changed since then. But I know there are still those dealers out there that hop from one mail company to the next based on one piece, a short skirt or a low price. If it works for them - great, if not how about creating a strategy behind direct mail dance!?

Here in Divaland just this morning we were talking about how it feels like it takes working with a client for an entire year before they see the value in putting together a strategy for their mailers. They get their feet wet, realize we aren't idiots, eventually come around to taking suggestions and finally one of us says 'I think it's time we plan this thing out.' This post is really for anyone doing mail, but especially for those of you that know Marketvision and don't yet use a strategy.

So here it is - don't get too excited because it's simple. It's taking the time to do it that is hard.

1. Determine what zip codes respond to your mail and which don't. This typically takes 2-3 sales of just real data collection (which is easy using Marketvision, but can also be done by hand).

2. Take "good zips" and look for others that look like those demographically and add them to your master list.

3. Figure out how many homes there are and how often you want to do sales. Then divide the list evenly across all zips by the number of campaigns you are looking to do in the quarter. This makes certain you aren't blowing up your market and it keeps response consistent.

4. Find a good piece and stick with it. Look, I'm going to be blunt, if I'm telling you something is working then why change it? You can then use the same piece all quarter because no one is seeing it twice, easy right?

5. Put the plan in motion and continue tracking. The beauty of this is especially nice for dealers that do mail campaigns monthly or even weekly. You set it up at the beginning of the quarter once and then all you have to do is update dates throughout the quarter. Your piece & zips are already selected!

6. The result - mail with a strategy. You know who is getting your mail and when, and you know you're message is out there consistently. Every month a different group of people are in the market and are getting ready to be in the market - with a strategy you know they are seeing your message in that timeframe.

Obviously this is a simple list of things that actually require a lot of upfront work. The hard work pays off when you can just sit back and let your strategy plan out your mail. For Diva clients Katy does most of it anyway - give us a call today if you want to hear more.


Tim said...

Interesting blog:

You could purchase lists based on car registration and demographics. The best lists are internal with purchase history amount spent and how often they purchase a new or used car. The new car purchaser would be a great cross-sell for other affinity products like warranty, insurance, financial products and XM radio package.

Tim Little

Direct Mail Diva said...

Hi Tim,
Thanks for your comment. I agree the best lists are internal - dealer database lists. It's amazing how many dealers don't take advantage of their own data. Great ideas on the cross selling!

Tim Little said...

Segmenting lists and testing by age demographics can greatly increase response levels. Look at testing e-mail or cell phone to under 30 to direct mail or phone to over 50.

Tim Little