8 Questions To Determine Your Automotive Marketing Agency’s Direct Mail Skills

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In this article, we’ll discuss 8 questions to ask your next auto shop direct mail marketing agency.

Conceptualminds | March 31, 2022

How to Evaluate Your Direct Mail Marketer's Service Quality

When you find yourself in another sales pitch, you can’t help wondering whether you’re being sold a bill of goods.

The salesperson knows more about their respective industry than you do, and they know that, too. They may simply be guiding the conversation towards closing on a solid investment, or they may be hiding bad, outdated practices, outright lazy service, or any other well-known shortcut.

Going with an automotive marketing agency for your direct mail marketing is a sizable investment. It’s difficult to justify the expense without getting anything back in foot traffic or car count. 

As an automotive marketing agency, we are familiar with the most common and most damaging shortcuts, so we’re arming you with eight questions to ask your next potential direct mail marketing company.


1. Does Your Direct Mail Marketing Company Specialize in Auto Repair?

Many direct mail marketing companies will tell you that they don’t need industry-specific expertise to create effective direct mail campaigns.

Knowing the auto repair industry means understanding how to motivate car owners with limited budgets, the best times of the year to reach them, keep them returning, and the preferences of different car owner demographics. 

A campaign for first-time car owners needs to be distinct compared to one targeting drivers living in affluent retirement communities.

Understanding auto repair marketing also means avoiding big mistakes that wouldn’t occur to those outside the industry. It takes some industry-specific awareness to know not to flood mailboxes with postcards showing red Corvettes and bald eagles—or that a shop must display its specialization on each ad.

Automotive Industry Marketing

2. How Frequently Do You Give Performance Updates and How Do You Measure Direct Mail ROI?

It’s in a marketing agency’s best interest to keep you onboard for as long as possible. Many shy away from providing regular, detailed updates because they simply hope you won’t notice if your campaigns aren’t going well. Use this easy to use auto shop direct mail ROI calculator to get a basic idea of what type of performance you can expect from your campaigns.

3. Can You Provide Samples of Past Mailer Designs?

Another shortcut to look out for: auto repair marketing agencies that reuse the same design. Ask for several samples, and request that these samples be diverse in visuals and marketing copy.

Once you get your samples, lay them out next to each other and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the design recycle specific design or layout elements from sample to sample?
  • Does the design work look unique to each client’s brand?
  • Is the language clear, compelling, and straightforward? It’s a bad sign if you can remove words from the copy and it still keeps its original message; same language that doesn’t get to the point quickly or raises more questions than it answers.
Targeted Seasonal Offers

For instance, between these two ads, we see a significant difference in design—simple graphics compared to pleasing personal imagery—and distinct offers, specifically tailored for the time of year.

Auto Repair Shop Postcard

If they clear the test, there’s a good chance they put time into creating original designs well suited to their client’s business.

4. How Do You Decide on Appropriate Offers for Direct Mail Campaigns?

Here you’re trying to get a feel for the depth of their marketing service. While the specific offer you use may sound like a small detail, choosing between offers will play a big part in how your advertising performs.

According to direct marketer Edward Mayer, direct marketing performance is 40 percent audience selection, 40 percent offer type, and 20 percent creative.

40-40-20 Rule

There’s a wide range of offer types that marketers can choose from for any particular goal. An excellent free offer or discount will surely boost response rates and revenue, but any cost you incur must be significantly less than the lifetime value your new customers bring.

 Meanwhile, advertising for high-end purchases see much lower response rates, usually requiring far more consumer education.

5. Do You A/B Test Offers and Creative on Direct Mail Campaigns?

If deciding on the right offer sounds like a challenge, it is. Arriving at the right balance of response rate and cost may take some experimentation.

A/B testing is frequently used to test performance differences between multiple design versions, which are sent to households simultaneously. Lessons from these tests help you, and your automotive marketing agency find the right levers to pull in to optimize your collateral for maximum impact.

A good auto repair marketer knows this and will want to test a few approaches at once to find what works best. 

 If they don’t, they’re holding their hands behind their back and shouldn’t get your trust.

6. How Do You Decide Which Households to Reach with Direct Mail Marketing?

Your marketing agency’s competence in audience selection is crucial. 

Since it makes up about 40 percent of your marketing’s success, you need to establish how much depth and detail they put into their household targeting.

Targeted Residential Mailing

Your list should specifically tailor your auto repair shop to households most likely to purchase your services while excluding those least likely.

Ask for specifics and compare them to your experience with your customer base.

7. How Does Your Automotive Marketing Firm Track Offer Responses?

If you’re making impactful business decisions with your marketing spend, you need to know that your marketing performance data is accurate and in context.

Don’t settle for a marketing firm that doesn’t clearly explain how to track offer responses.

It’s essential to know which offers make prospects into customers more efficiently and effectively. Without tracking, you can’t know whether marketing or pure chance is behind any recent surge in foot traffic or car count.

8. How Comfortable is Your Agency with Marketing Outside of Direct Mail?

You want a marketing partner whose foundation is finding lucrative audiences and creating the right offers and creative to turn them into repeat customers.

If any other kind of marketing is a better fit for your goals, your partner should be able to pursue them.

For instance, event-based or digital marketing might be the ticket to improving response rates and conversions, and a marketer can’t truly understand their audience if they can only reach them one way.

Persistence Gets You the Best Deal on Your Repair Shop's Marketing Dollar

If we could trust every claim made in a sales pitch, the world would be a better place.

Until that day, your best shot at getting the most from your marketing spend is understanding how bad direct mail marketing agencies hide their mistakes.



Learn About Conceptual Minds

At Conceptual Minds, our team helps automotive businesses get the most from their marketing dollars with tried and tested methods backed up by regular testing and research.

We equip our clients with the tools and knowledge to eliminate the guesswork from their marketing efforts and get top ROI through our tailored services.

Need help assessing your direct mail provider’s service quality?

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