There were certainly some changes in this category worth noting. The group average dropped more than four points from last year, while the winners’ scores rose considerably, leaving the largest gap between group average and the winner since 2005. Only four companies managed to score higher than group average, compared to six from last year. The other surprising item of note was that two of this year’s ranking companies focus much of their direct mail business on the service side of the dealership instead of sales.
Claiming the Diamond Award once again is Strategic Marketing. In a category with so many providers, it is no small feat to capture this award four years running. Clearly, direct mail is still important to a number of dealers. Todd Strause, president of Strategic Marketing, may have best summed up the dealer perspective when he said, “There will always be a need for broad-based advertising, but targeted one-to-one advertising still delivers results to dealers. Direct mail is more important as dealers improve their ability to target niches within their own databases.”
With a less-than-outstanding outlook for new vehicle sales and the additional challenge faced by dealers in the subprime market, many dealers are taking another look at other profit centers to make sure they are doing everything possible to generate revenue. Much of that focus is on fixed operations, which may help explain why AutoRevenue, a relative unknown in this category in the past, came out of nowhere this year to claim the Platinum Award. AutoRevenue’s direct mail program is just one aspect of their CRM process.
Taking the Gold Award for the third year in a row for direct mail was BlueSky Marketing. Only one other provider, Diversiform, beat the category average to rank 4th. Diversiform, like AutoRevenue, concentrates the majority of their efforts on service operations.
Gemspring Capital has acquired Bobit Business Media, home of Agent Entrepreneur, Auto Dealer Today, F&I and Showroom, and P&A magazines.