Direct mail campaign can post positive results by attracting targeted tire business prospects

Jan. 1, 2020
Targeted direct mailings can move your business forward when seeking new customers. Whether you?re trying to reach residents moving into a just-built subdivision or soliciting regional commercial accounts, just about everyone has a need for tire serv
Untitled Document

Targeted direct mailings can move your business forward when seeking new customers. Whether you’re trying to reach residents moving into a just-built subdivision or soliciting regional commercial accounts, just about everyone has a need for tire services at one time or another; they might as well be purchasing them from you.

Yet for this to happen, potential patrons need to know that your business is present and accounted for and that you’re ready and able to get the work done. Even a large sign out front can become part of the passing landscape for someone not immediately concerned with a tire issue, quietly fading from memory. This can be particularly vexing if the competition in town has an aggressive television or radio advertising schedule that you can’t afford to match.

A mailing program, though, can provide a physical reminder posted to the refrigerator or tacked on the company bulletin board, according to Fred Lapides, sales coordinator in the Las Vegas branch of Canoga, Calif.-based Prospect DB. The company compiles targeted lists for mail, email and telephone marketing campaigns, winnowing prospects based on their income or other demographic characteristics, physical location or type of business.

While email is all the rage, especially among a younger clientele, dependable “snail mail” gives the recipient something to hold in their hands and file for later use.

“If you want to get your message out, you can do it,” says Lapides. “Put a database together of all the targeted people you want to reach.”

A direct mailing’s content is best written in an informative, soft-sell style rather than a blaring written version of a noisy TV ad. “You’re not trying to ‘sell’ anything; you’re giving people a heads-up” about the product lines, competence, service and customer comfort provided by the staff of your tire center, Lapides points out.

Prospect DB is a large operation with a national presence, he explains, noting that “we’re looking to do repeat business.” Other list preparation companies may not have the same motivation, he cautions, warning about how “you can get left holding the bag by the fly-by-nighters” tainting the industry.

To avoid this unpleasant circumstance, he advises that you ask plenty of questions before enlisting a list service – where it’s for a postal, email or telephone marketing campaign. “If you have questions about the answers you get it’s time to move on to someone else,” he says.

“If you have recently looked into purchasing a direct mail list for email marketing, physical direct mail, telesales, or any variety of prospecting, you know what a challenge it can be,” Lapides notes. “Finding a reliable, trustworthy, cost effective and flexible source for the list you need is like finding a good mechanic.”

Toward that end, Lapides has assembled his own list – that being 10 questions you should ask of a potential list provider, whether it’s geared toward compiling postal mail, email or telephone contacts:

1. Do you actually email me the file in an Excel spreadsheet or something comparable?
Ideally, you want to have the data so that you can use it for multiple campaigns and multiple channels (email, snail mail, and phone calls). Decades ago, list sources were so protective of their data that they would never let you see it, not even for direct mail. You would send your snail mail pieces to a third party mailing house and they would provide the mailing house with their list. The mailing house would send the mailing, and you never really knew who they were sending it to. Many email list sources still operate in much the same way: you send them the content to be sent out and they distribute it to their list. The problem with this is that you only get to hit those prospects one time, through one channel and you really don’t know who is receiving your message. These one-time rented l blasts also tend to be very expensive. The truth is you don’t have to settle for this approach any more. There are many list sources that will provide you with an actual spreadsheet with all the records you purchase.

2. Do you provide full contact information, including email address, physical address and phone number? Which fields of information do you provide with every record?
It’s simple, if you want to use all possible channels, you’ll want all data points. If you do not receive the email address, you can’t email these people. For example, if you do not receive fields like “job title” in a list of commercial account prospects you would not be able to run targeted campaigns for specific vehicle-related departments. When you get a list of fields included, be sure to also confirm that all fields are included at the base price and not at an extra charge.

3. What type of licensing do you provide?
Historically, lists were sold with very strict licensing terms, typically one time use or 60-90 day use. Some list vendors still try to get away with this, but now you will know better. Limited licensing is a thing of the past and I would not recommend purchasing any list that restricts your use of it. A progressive, fair list vendor will give you a license to do anything with the list except resell it.

4. Do you guarantee your data to be accurate?
Get the exact terms of any guarantee being offered with the data. A reputable source should offer to replace or refund for any records that prove to be inaccurate in any way. Of course, a lot of sources offer a 100 percent guarantee, but when you go back to them to exercise this option, they are gone, the phones are disconnected and emails bounce. So, the guarantee is a must, but it is only as good as the vendor that supplies it. Also, be leery of anyone who tells you that their list is 100 percent accurate. No list is 100 percent accurate; 85 percent to 90 percent deliverability is considered good for emails. What you want is a 100 percent guarantee that the vendor will replace or refund for any records that are found to be inaccurate.

5. Are you a list broker, or a list source?
This is significant because if you are not working directly with the source, you may encounter difficulties in turnaround time, getting the exact list you are looking for, exercising your guarantee, any issues with the quality of the data, etc. List brokers or resellers are not always experts at working with the data to get you exactly what you need. They often simply pass your requirements/criteria along to their source and then pass the data back through to you. This can result in a breakdown in communications and a misinterpretation of your needs. List brokers also typically feel far less accountable for the quality of the data as they do not maintain the quality, they simply sell the data. List brokers, by the nature of them being resellers, also typically sell data at a higher rate. Bottom line, stay away from brokers when possible and go with an original source that compiles and cleans all their own data.

6. Where are you physically located, is it an office or home, and how many employees do you have there
These are just some of the questions that I would recommend to weed out fly-by-night or overseas operations. Fly-by-night list vendors will make all kinds of claims and promises to get you to buy, then when you find out the list is garbage, they are nowhere to be found. For this reason, you want to work with a vendor who has a physical location here in the U.S.; that location should be an office – not a home – and they should have more than one or two employees. I strongly recommend that you stay away from overseas sources. Many overseas companies will pretend to have a location in the U.S. and will operate under many different names. It’s simple: Don’t trust them.

7. Can you provide me with some references?
Make sure these are contacts in companies that you have actually heard of or can be looked up easily online, or are publicly traded companies. Many list vendors will try to provide you with references of individuals who are simply their partners in crime at another one of the shady companies they operate under. If they cannot provide you with one reference from a company that you have heard of, don’t trust them. Ideally they should be able to provide you with at least one reference from a long time customer that represents repeat business for the vendor. Many list vendors see little to no repeat business because they basically rip off each customer, then look for new suckers.

8. Are you registered with the Better Business Bureau?
If they are not, do not trust them. If they are, check their rating and examine any complaints against them.

9. How long have you been in business under your current name, and what is the legal name of your company?
Again, many list vendors constantly change names and contact information in an effort to leave behind disgruntled customers who might make it difficult for them to find new suckers. I know of at least two rings of list vendors whose basic practice is to never try to make the customer happy, but instead to have so many different companies under different names out there, that when they lose each customer they are likely to pick them up under another one of their fronts. As a follow up to this, you can also ask if they operate under any different names, or have any “sister companies” that offer similar services. A trustworthy vendor should have nothing to hide.

10. What forms of payment do you accept?
A strange question, right? Not if you know this business well. See, many vendors know that once you receive the data that you have purchased from them you will do whatever you can to get your money back. For this reason they often insist on money transfer or cashier’s check only. If they let you use a credit card, you will likely charge it back. If they let you pay via check you will likely cancel the check when you see the garbage that they have given you. If a vendor does not accept all mainstream forms of payment, be skeptical. Any reputable and established company should be able to process credit cards, accept checks, PayPal, etc.

“If a list vendor you are considering is giving answers to most of these questions that leave you feeling uneasy, you may want to look elsewhere or dig deeper before gambling with your marketing budget,” Lapides advises.

For more information, visit

Sponsored Recommendations

Best Body Shop and the 360-Degree-Concept

Spanesi ‘360-Degree-Concept’ Enables Kansas Body Shop to Complete High-Quality Repairs

How Fender Bender Operator of the Year, Morrow Collision Center, Achieves Their Spot-On Measurements

Learn how Fender Bender Operator of the Year, Morrison Collision Center, equipped their new collision facility with “sleek and modern” equipment and tools from Spanesi Americas...

ADAS Applications: What They Are & What They Do

Learn how ADAS utilizes sensors such as radar, sonar, lidar and cameras to perceive the world around the vehicle, and either provide critical information to the driver or take...

Banking on Bigger Profits with a Heavy-Duty Truck Paint Booth

The addition of a heavy-duty paint booth for oversized trucks & vehicles can open the door to new or expanded service opportunities.