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The Right Direct Mail Can Make a Difference for Your Dealership

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What can a dealer do when she can’t move her 2016 inventory, people are not coming on the lot, and the entire sales team is frustrated that their numbers are down?

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Let me tell you about a Nissan dealership in Louisiana that consistently outsells everyone else in the area by capturing new clients via conquest searches sponsored by Experian (the credit giant) and attracting people ready to get out of their current vehicles and into something brand new.
It’s not a big store by any stretch of the imagination, but this location consistently increases their numbers year over year by 20 percent regardless of market conditions. How do they hit these goals? Having tried radio, email blasts and saturating the marketplace with information on inventory that needs moving, this dealer last week sold 39 cars off a direct marketing piece that went out to only 7,000 people. Direct marketing, you say? Isn’t that the most ancient thing one can do to attract people to the dealership? Well, direct marketing is making a comeback; it is the only form of advertising that gets the “right” people in the door — the people who match the loan programs your dealership has to offer.

So, if you do direct marketing, what do you need to look for in your partner company? Two things:

1. A very specific level of a partnership with a credit bureau. The agency you work with needs to have a partnership with the bureau such that they are able to extract the most up-to-date information that narrows down this list using a wide number of variables. Please note that this is a different level from the partnership dealerships have directly with the credit bureaus. Agencies, because of their volume, can pull extremely specific and timely data at a fraction of a dealer or dealer group’s rate. Also, you want to work with a senior agency team who knows what they are doing. I just heard a horror story of a 100,000 piece mailer that went out — and only received three incoming calls with no cars sold. Can you imagine spending $75K on a mailer with those returns? It happens all the time. Make sure to hold your agency accountable. What are they going to do to ensure that your mail piece maximizes its chances of success? While there are no guarantees in this business, a good piece always gets results.

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2. The mail piece itself must have enough substance on it so that it speaks to a wide variety of people. We suggest listing vehicles that you need to move as soon as possible, including monies down, monthly payment information, warranty and service specials. Track this piece (again, this is where agency accountability comes into play). Use personal URLs (PURLs), 800 numbers and incentives. People love incentives. In total, there should be eight or more “pieces of substance” on the mail piece itself for it to work. Remember, most incentives will increase the cost of the piece, but it will be well worth it, as the goal is to get you both calls into the dealership and people in the door so that your staff can sell.

We know Memorial Day is around the corner. Any agency that can put together the “first, perfect direct mail piece” in under two weeks is pulling your leg. You need to commit to signing a contract with the credit bureau, and this turnaround time is at least five days (again, this only needs to be done the first time you work with a new bureau). Then, the campaign itself — approvals, artwork and printing — will take another five days.

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Two last things: Make sure that your agency has been in business within the automotive space for at least 24 months. Ask for references. They should have many. Finally, don’t be all that concerned with pricing, unless they are too high ($1.50/piece) or too low (.65/per piece). Anything in between those numbers, and you are in a ballpark of getting something good done.

Here’s to hitting your May goals! Set yourself up now for a strong month, as Memorial Day weekend is less than three weeks away.

Laura Czarnecki – Vice President of Sales For Ideal Direct Ad Group

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