How I can Prove Direct Mail still has the best ROI

How I can prove Direct Mail is still the strongest advertising ROI there is in the Auto Business BAR NONE!

A short back story: 

I started in the car business back in 1987 as a young kid who wanted to learn all I could about this business. One thing I caught on to quickly was that whenever we had a “Mailer” sale going on, I wanted to work bell to bell.   Who wouldn’t, we were always so busy and I made a great paycheck those weeks. 

Nothing changed in the next 4 years that I sold.  I continued to notice that when we were slow the managers would huddle together in a frantic frenzy and I would inevitably hear the words “Let’s do a mailer”.  It was not long after that that I sold my first mailer sale to a dealer as I made the change to being a vendor at the ripe age of 22.  I remember clearly all of my friends in the business telling me that I better hurry up and make some money doing it because mailers were getting used too much, they were saturating the market and pretty soon no dealer would be buying them because they would not work anymore. 

Well, I stayed on the road as a one man wrecking machine (no teams, no staffed event, no percentage payed out, yup just me) for 12 years and sold over 500 events to dealers and loved every minute of it.       ..... still working after a dozen years. 

I will be brief on the sabbatical I took of 5 years to learn dealerships operations as a High volume GM in the circa 2004-2009 era.  I will say, I learned that I bought a lot of mail as GM..... Huh, it still works after all these years.     ......17 and counting 

I have been on a rampage for a few years now speaking at event after event about how Traditional media is still alive, relevant and should be used in conjunction with all this new fangled digital media. 

Ok, so lets get to the point of this article, 24 years later after everyone told me to hurry up and sell mail while it was hot, through all of this digital, and internet growth, SEO, SEM, social media buzz, retargeting, Autotrader, etc etc etc..... I can still prove that Direct Mail is the best traffic driver in the USA...BAR NONE.   The next paragraph is the proof you have been waiting for. 

The Proof: 

I call this the Super Sale Challenge.  Wether you like Super Sales or not.  Wether you do them or not, (and there is a good chance that you do not like them and still do them) there is one consistent truth about Super Sales that proves my point.  The men and women who travel the country putting them on live and die by the traffic that they generate.  I would venture that the follow guesses are fairly accurate. 

  1. There are over 100 of those events going on right now as I writer this. 
  2. None of them used anything as a primary advertising medium other than mail. 

You see, the fact that these companies get paid on the gross profit of the event, pay their own expenses and many times now will actually even pay for the advertising tells me they are the smartest advertisers in the country on many levels because their entire life / paycheck depends on advertising results. 

The fact that none of them, and and yes, I said NONE of them to my knowledge have held a pay per click sales event, a video SEO event, or use anything other than mail tells me that Direct Mail is still the best traffic driver in the country. 

It is for this reason alone that believe I have proved Direct Mail is the best form of ROI advertising still to this date.  My company does not do super sales, but we sell a bunch of mail.  I still believe in how effective it is, and for the dealer that does not want the 3 ring circus in town there are loads of other options. That said, I will keep a watchful eye on the Super Sale Business until I retire to see what form of advertising is the most relevant, highest ROI form of media to use.  Until it changes.......Direct Mail is KING. 

Troy Spring

President Dealer World 



Dealer World is a full service advertising agency specializing in direct mail and electronic media. 

Troy Spring is #1 best selling author and sought after speaker on Traditional Media. 

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Comment by Brian Pasch on May 1, 2014 at 10:06pm

Great points here Troy. 

Comment by Christopher Bragg on April 29, 2014 at 6:14pm

Hey Troy,

Great post!

I am curious to know what you think is the best list for generating leads for these dealers. As a list provider and as a technology provider I obviously have a tainted opinion based on our clients ordering habits. Send me a pm if you would like to chat offline regarding this. Thanks in advance for your time.

Comment by Troy Spring on April 24, 2014 at 3:44pm

I agree with those points for sure Geoff!  I have said that many times!

Comment by Geoffrey Wise on April 24, 2014 at 3:28pm

Love this post Troy! You hit on a lot of great points. I stand with you as someone that believes & knows direct mail is the king when it comes to driving traffic into a dealership.

I would also add that using direct mail for lead generation will increase your average gross profit per deal. You’re getting a customer to respond to you before they’ve entered the market and most importantly BEFORE they’ve price shopped you on competitor sites and the third parties.

The dealers I know that have committed to using direct mail on a monthly basis are seeing more sales AND higher grosses.

Comment by Troy Spring on April 24, 2014 at 1:05pm

Charles, I appreciate your comments. ( even though you hijacked my seemingly non pitchy post with your company and results )  We too have had great success with mail in many areas.   I wish you well and please feel free to ring me sometime to chat and become friends outside of the computer.   

Comment by Charles Sullivan on April 24, 2014 at 12:46pm

I'm about to do something that is probably frowned upon in business, (I'll explain in a minute) but I absolutely 100% agree with Troy's point. Direct mail is far and away the most effective lead generation tool in the automotive space. When you combine the advances in technology, multi-channel marketing and solid customer retention programs together your lead and sales results go through the roof.

The Auto Agency specializes in several areas: mail only - targeted precision mail - dedicated BDC - Staffed & Non Staffed events. All of our programs are supported using the latest digital technology.

To Troy's point; we could not achieve the consistent results we do, if direct mail was removed from the mix.

During the last 30 days we completed six 5 day staffed events in various markets (mail only) here are the actual results:

Gross Profit: 288k / 325k / 410k / 265k / 245k / 336k (No charge backs - very happy customers and clients.)  

245,000 mailers sent

460 Units sold (new 40% - used 60% blended)

Average gross $4063 per unit

Gross Profit$1,868,980 



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