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Winning with Mail

15 May, 2009 By: Jim Kahrs imageSource

Winning with Mail

With the recent troubles in the economy many dealers have experienced slower sales than expected. Inevitably the question is raised, “What can we do to drive in some business?”  Someone throws out the idea to do a mailing. So the planning starts. Who do we send the mailing to,
what do we send, how does it get printed, how does it get mailed, do we have enough co-op funds to cover the costs?

This immediately becomes an overwhelming task and conjures up images and memories of the last big mailing and the problems it caused.  The mail pieces offered by the manufacturer were either too expensive or did nothing to build the name of our dealership. So we designed a
piece with pictures of a new machine and a loss leader lease price. Once we got the piece printed it took the majority of the admin staff two weeks to get everything folded, addressed, sorted (we want to get the postal discounts) and mailed.  Not only were they upset about having
to be the “mailroom,” but the rest of their work didn’t get done and they complained about carpal tunnel syndrome and paper cuts for weeks. Exporting a customer list from the computer system was more difficult than expected and combining it with the newly purchased prospect list
was no picnic.  Nevertheless, we persevered and 15,000 pieces went in the mail. 

The good news is that the mailing did cause the phone to ring. Though the response rate was less than a quarter of a percent we got enough new business to justify the costs.  However, as the dealer principal you became further frustrated when you realized that there were leads
that never got attention because the sales reps didn’t have the time to follow up. It’s no wonder we don’t do this on a regular basis.  Who could survive the stress?

The Basics Behind a Better Way

At Prosperity Plus Management Consulting we help dealers develop strong promotional programs using the principles laid out in the Hubbard Management System™.  Promotion, as defined in our system, is “the art of offering what will be responded to.” Response is the key word. 
To get a high response rate you need to determine what people really want and consider valuable.  This data is gained by surveying customers and prospects. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to assume that you know what is wanted and will be responded to. You survey
different publics (groups with common characteristics) to find out what they like and dislike, what attributes they look for in a vendor, what factors most influence their purchase decisions and so forth. 

The results of your surveys are used to create the promotional pieces you’ll use. There are two key components found in successful promotion pieces, the button and the message. A button is what is used to get the public’s “agreement to hear the message”. The message is the
communication; the thought you want to get across. For example, you survey and find out that 70% of those asked are looking for ways to reduce their printing costs.  That’s the button or the point of agreement with that public.  So you use that button and they will listen to what
you have to say about printing.  The button could be “Finally, printing that won’t break your budget” and the message could include information on managed print services and why the program saves money for the customer while reducing headaches.  The idea is to strike just the
right note of agreement and deliver your message to a now receptive audience. That’s the secret of promotion that gets a good response.

Getting the Plan in Place

Now let’s put this into practice in your dealership. The first step is to conduct surveys with the various publics you intend to promote to. This is best done by drafting a survey and having the sales reps call or visit customers and prospects to get he survey questions
answered.  You’ll want to conduct at least 50 surveys for each public you intend to target. The results of the surveys are then tabulated to determine the highest percentage responses.

The survey data is used to develop the promo pieces.  Since you’ve done your homework via surveys the promo pieces can be created in house. We recommend using postcards for your mailing campaigns. They are inexpensive to print and mail and don’t have to be opened manually for
the button to reach the recipient.

The next step is to determine how many pieces to mail, to whom and how often. This is where another basic principle comes into play.  You must mail to the same public multiple times to increase results. Mailing to a public once generates very low response rates. However,
hitting the same group three to five times is almost impossible to ignore. If you don’t already have a database consisting of thousands of prospects (10,000 or more) you need to acquire one. Lists are available for sale through a number of companies. Set up a schedule that hits
each prospect once every two to three months.  To accomplish this you need to put a process in place that will ensure regular mailings go out every month from here forward. The best way to make this happen is to have the printing and mailing done for you.

When a program like this is done correctly and in full swing it is quite possible to get a response rate of 2% or more from each mailing. Getting returns of this type will easily pay for the promotional program. However, there is a far more important reason to do regular
mailings. When you send postcards to your prospects on a consistent basis you are putting your name in front of them on a repetitive basis. It is impossible for a sales rep to reach more than maybe 100 or 200 new prospects of month.  With ongoing mailing campaigns of 5,000 or
more pieces a month you are getting your name in front of thousands of prospects and branding your company. By doing this repetitive mailing your company is perceived as being a very large and influential company in the market. 

If you embark on a campaign of mailing to a large database on a regular basis you’ll find it much easier to make appointments with prospects, will be surprised with the recognition your name now gets and you WILL increase sales.  Good luck and good selling!

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