In modern times, direct mail and telemarketing still do the trick

Publish Date: 
Apr 24, 2012
By Rod Stuckey

I’m a big fan of online media for marketing your dealership. I’ve experienced much success in executing campaigns with email, Google Adwords, Web landing pages, Web-banners, Facebook, etc. However, I also believe that diversity equals stability. This is one of many reasons I’m also a huge fan of offline media — in particular, direct mail and telephone.

A little-known truth is that nearly every great business owner has built his or her business on good direct-response marketing using direct mail and telephone. In fact, right now, in the middle of the information age, good ol’ direct mail is still a $45.2 billion industry. And the telemarketing and call center industry is still north of $20 billion, despite constant attacks from the Federal Trade Commission.

Why? Because it works.

It troubles me when I hear dealers and experts say that direct mail doesn’t work. That’s B.S. If you don’t think it works, ask yourself why the execs at Google consistently invest in millions of direct mail pieces to sell their pay-per-click advertising. They also employ telemarketers to make cold calls for the same purpose. Also, the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition, which touts itself as the world’s largest e-commerce event, is sold via a 32-page direct-mail piece.

According to nonprofit research, “Nothing out-performs direct mail for new donor acquisition.

Nonprofits wish that social media, Web sites, email, etc. could do this job as well, but so far, extensive experimenting by the entire non-profit world has failed to come up with any way to survive and grow without relying on direct mail.”

According to news reports, e-commerce sales over the holidays were up 15 percent year-to-year. But, how much of that purchasing was driven there from print catalogs delivered to mailboxes? My wife ordered Justice Clothes online for our girls after receiving its catalog, where she was given a special discount coupon code. She also placed orders online with Omaha Steaks and Patagonia, but only after perusing through direct mail that was sent to us. E-commerce companies also use offline media to upsell: Omaha Steaks now calls us to replenish as we consume.

According to Epsilon research, 60 percent of consumers say they enjoy checking their mailbox and receiving mail (and my guess is motorcycle enthusiasts receiving motorcycle-related messages pumps at least another 15 percent into that figure). The same study concludes that 65 percent say they receive too many emails to open them all. U.S. Postal Service data says that 98 percent of consumers retrieve their mail from the mailbox the day it is delivered and 77 percent sort through it the same day.

BUT IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS
Little hinges can swing big doors, and one small detail can sabotage an entire direct-mail or phone campaign.

For example, who you’re mailing to makes a big difference in your success. The reason direct mail doesn’t work for some dealers is because they’re sending it to the wrong people. Data hygiene, list segmentation, and ensuring the message is relevant and compelling are all key details of a successful direct-mail campaign. Methodically figure out who you are trying to reach, and then match your message to the targeted recipient.

Details are equally as important when it comes to the telephone. Sales are missed by a few words, not a few dollars. With a professionally crafted script, one salesperson can make a call to an unsold prospect, or a repeat customer, and provide new information that converts him into a kept appointment. Alternatively, give another salesperson the same unsold prospect to call and let him just wing it, and he’ll tell you the customer isn’t interested.

You must use offline media consistently to maximize customer retention, increase their frequency of visits, and re-activate lost customers.

Consider a customer’s journey from the point of purchasing a new bike all the way through 24 months when he or she is now statistically considering a trade. Here are some touch points you can leverage for offline media to boost sales:

• Follow-up. “Thank you for your purchase. Here’s an incentive to take our CSI survey and come back to the store.”
• Related add-ons. “Hope you’re enjoying your new bike. Have you had time to review all of the accessories available?”
• The First Service Reminder.
• Birthday greeting (for customer)
• Birthday greeting (for bike)
• Service Reminder No. 2.
• Invitation to your store’s upcoming event.

As mentioned, I’m a fan of online media, and you can utilize these touches with email, too. Multi-touch and multimedia have been proven to boost response. However, tangible materials such as direct mail trigger a deeper level of emotional processing than electronic. Telephones allow you to talk, one human to another, and develop an authentic relationship. That’s hard to do on Facebook.

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews May 2012 issue.