Archive for August, 2011

By, Todd Vowell, CEO, Buy Mail Direct Inc.

Every now and then, you have one of those conversations that just “effects” you in ways you can’t explain.  In the past 30 years, I have talked with at least 10,000 Car Dealers, GM’s, and GSM’s. But for some reason, some conversations just grab you in ways it is hard to explain. Let me try…

This particular dealer is a Ford store in the beautiful state of Washington. I had been working with him for a while to convince him to run a targeted direct marketing event with us and he finally did.

In fact, the first time we spoke, I had cold called him out of the blue to tell him about a record weekend we just had at a Chevrolet/Subaru store in Washington. I was pretty jacked because we are in the middle of one heck of a recession so having a record weekend is news.  He actually hung up on me so I sent him a “greeting card” with a little joke inside, and followed up again.

Sure I could have just let him go but if I did, we would have never even had a chance to do business. (I feel sorry for dealers that have to field 100 calls a day when they are trying to run their business so we work hard to find other ways to share information with them).

I should preface that this particular dealer did just run our “Decoy Event” and had the BEST 2-Day Event in the 70 year history of his dealerships.  We did this without using any “hook” like “win $10,000 cash/car” or ” win a 3-day vacation”, or “get a free BBQ Tool Kit”! He was so happy and thanked me for doing what I said I would do, when I said I would do it. It feels pretty good.

I don’t want this to come off as an ad for Buy Mail Direct at all. But when a dealer gets over 100 people, sells 20 plus cars off a 5,000 piece mailer that was under a $4,000 investment (all in the middle of a horrible economy), you cant help but to feel a little giddy (especially when people say direct mail doesn’t work).

We also talked about his salespeople who loved the event as well, because they have done other events that were the “cash/car give-a-ways” and this time the salespeople knew people were coming in, not to see if they won something, but to talk about doing business.  When the salespeople are “sold”, you are going to have a great promotion.

In fact, he told me he just found out that two other dealerships in town had got together to run a huge “off site event” and they did a saturation (win $10,000 Cash) mailer the same exact dates that he ran our “Decoy Event”. He was pumped because he out sold those dealerships combined!

Speaking of the salespeople, its great to know they earned some money. I’m sure there were some “hat tricks” in there and some happy folks. Whats the saying, “everything is funny with a pocket full of money!  When business is slow, bills pile up, so I’m so glad that his salespeople earned some commissions to feed their family, take the pet to the vet, get some school clothes, and all the other things we do to make it.

We are going to get out of this recession, not by the Government spending billions of our dollars but by small business hiring people who don’t have a job.  It may sound simple and it is. However, when people “buy things” (and it doesn’t matter if it’s a car or a die-cast car), it’s the transfer of money, its doing business. When money transfers from one pocket to another, that’s when it all begins.

The dealership invest in a mailer to generate opportunities. The company earns some money, the people who run the printing machines earn money, the mailman delivers the mail earns some money, and so on.

Then, a couple comes in and buys a car. They leave to go have lunch and “think about it”. They spend money at the local restaurant, leave a tip for the waitress, the waitress goes and spends it. The couple return to the dealership, buy the car and get a loan.

The dealership earns some money, the salesperson earns a commission, maybe the f&i manager earns something, etc. So the salesperson gets that commission, then goes down to the local furniture store, buys that couch and a new kitchen table. The furniture store earns money, the furniture salesperson earns a commission (and maybe goes down to buy that car they need so bad), then the delivery guys earn some money, and it just keeps going and going.

This dealer (our new customer) cares deeply for his employees and the community he lives in. He supports local programs, get involved with charities, and just cares. It was such a great reminder of why I do what I do in the first place.I just love serving car dealers!

Yes, this was a special conversation. It made my day and I hope the next time you are down, or just having a tough day, remember the big picture, keep the faith,  and don’t forget why you do what you do. Now, go out and make it a great day!


How many more vehicles would a dealership sell per month, if they executed Variable Data Printing (VDP) the way casinos do? (Note: many dealerships actually do and they are some of the most profitable dealers in the country). Casinos are on top when it comes to industries utilizing advanced Variable Data Printing for driving traffic and huge ROI.

Do casinos engage in social media and the Internet? Of course they do. But when it comes to connecting with customers, driving players down to the casino and being RELEVANT, nothing, repeat, NOTHING can generate an ROI as impressive as Direct Mail Marketing WITH Variable Data Printing…

Casinos make VDP relevant to EVERY CUSTOMER, meaning they do not send out the same exact message to every customer (such as a 10,000 piece saturation mailer). Why? Because after extensive research, they found that not one of the 10,000 customers are the same as another, therefore, not one message can be the same as well, and still be RELEVANT.

If you like a Bloody Mary, sports, blackjack, skiing, and always have a nice steak dinner (or sushi) when you visit the casino for the weekend, look closely next time at that direct mail piece you received, filled with offers. Do you bring the wife (or husband) and 3 kids that need to be entertained? Look closer at the OFFERS on that direct mail piece that are clearly customized for YOU, YOUR LIFESTYLE, and INTERESTS.

If you never touch your hash browns when you order that big “room service breakfast”, they know about it, and its documented. Casino marketing is truly incredible.

Direct Mail Marketing is more powerful than ever before because simply put, its more “relevant” than ever before…

How Does VDP Help Me?

The key for Variable Data Printing is in the quality of the responder, not the quantity. When you do a “Cash give-a-way” mailer, you know people are coming in to see if they won $5,000 cash.

When you do a VDP mailer, you know that person is coming in for a bigger car because the family is growing or they have a high demand trade-in, or any other information sent out pertaining to the purchase of a vehicle, not something for nothing.

The reason ROI is off the chart with VDP is because dealers can send out HALF the mailers they currently do and actually sell more cars because the mailer is RELEVANT, going in the right mailbox, and at the right time with little or no waste.

What Can I do as a car dealer?

Know everything there is to know about your clients: Family structure, income, age, dogs name, Occupation, Education…  Get a list of criteria and ask customers to fill out a quick survey, or have your sales rep blend these questions into every demo so you can talk to these people intelligently later.

Or better yet, find a company that has the ability to take your customer data and provide you back everything you ever wanted to know about your customers by doing a Customer Data Append.

Let’s say you have a lineup of cars that has an impressive 43 inches of “Leg Room.” Just imagine how your direct mail offer would be received by that big 6’ 5” guy, when your offer has a picture of a “Big Man” in a roomy driver’s seat!  That’s being relevant!

Now, I know your saying, “but how many big guys are out there?”  That’s the beauty of variable data printing on the fly. You can have one piece touting leg room, one touting Buy Back, and the next touting family safety, and on and on.

Create relationships with your clients in a very personal way. Learn to spend downtime calling past customers to ask their opinion, see if they found that special feature, ask them where they wash their cars, and see if they are going to some cool local event…  “Have you heard the 2017 is going to have a turbo, wow, can you imagine?” You get the idea.

We always hear about “life time value” of a customer.  The average customer keeps their car for about 38 months.  Average new car is $30,000!

So that puts everything in perspective…

 What is Variable Data Printing?
Variable-data printing (VDP) (also known as Variable-Information Printing (VIP) is a form of on-demand printing in which elements such as text, graphics and images may be changed from one printed piece to the next, without stopping or slowing down the printing process and using information from a database or external file.

For example, a set of personalized letters, each with the same basic layout, can be printed with a different vehicle and offer on each postcard.

Variable data printing enables the mass customization of documents via digital print technology on presses, as opposed to the “mass-production” of a single document using traditional printing methods.

Instead of producing 10,000 copies of a single document, delivering a single message to 10,000 customers, variable data printing could print 10,000 unique documents with customized messages for each customer.

Direct mail is not “cost per piece” anymore. The “as low as .29 cents” doesn’t fly.  New technology has given us personalized direct mail marketing that blows the door off old style “spray and pray” mail.

Dealerships that are doing direct mail today are not breaking records doing yesterday’s mail, they are doing it with Personalized, Variable Data printing.

When letters are personalized, they are more relevant. When they are more relevant, the closing ratio sky rockets!

Scenario 1 – Traditional Mail -2006:

* 10,000 Piece @ $0.50 each = $5,000
* 2% Response = 200 ups
* Closing ratio: 5% = 10 Cars Sold
* Average GP per car: $2,600
* 10 Vehicles x $2,600 = $26,000

Scenario 2 –Variable Data Mail – 2016:

* 10,000 Piece @ $0.79 each = $7,900
* 1% Response = 100 ups
* Closing ratio:30% = 30 Cars
* Average GP per car: $2,600
* 30 Vehicles x $2,600 = $78,000