Assistance for America Seeks DRM Labs' Help

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Assistance for America, a lending service for potential homebuyers with poor credit, has named Direct Response Marketing Labs Inc., Roswell, GA, to handle direct marketing responsibilities.

The agency, newly spun off from Dallas-based direct technology provider CyberDrawer Inc., won the account over an undisclosed number of shops. A few undisclosed agencies had worked on the business, but with little success.

"They're in the process of expanding to a number of states, and we're charged with developing the marketing strategy for them to acquire clients," said Larry Weissman, president of DRM and CyberDrawer.

Assistance for America, Dallas, buys houses at a discount and rehabs them. The company controls every facet of the home-buying experience: It is its own real estate agent, broker and financier.

Operating in Texas, Assistance for America plans to start expanding in a few months. Less than a year old, the organization grew out of First Plus Financial, which is involved in subprime lending to individuals with poor credit.

DRM is charged with redoing Assistance for America's direct mail creative, acting as a liaison to its merge/purge and mail facilities, and acquiring and measuring the effectiveness of lists.

DRM services include direct marketing strategies, copywriting and creative, and list management and brokerage. Parent CyberDrawer will limit itself to developing or buying technology that lifts response rates.

Work for Assistance for America will address the organization's challenges. The target audience is apartment dwellers of a certain age and income looking to move into their own homes. But reaching them is tough.

"First of all, the lists that are available from the compilers tend not to be of the highest quality, and therefore response to it has been fairly low," Weissman said. "So right now we're employing strategies to do data overlays, and we're talking with a number of vendors to help us fine-tune the target."

Creative under development is geared toward the holidays, different lifestyle events prior to the start of school and referral programs with incentives.

Other ideas under discussion include visiting business communities that employ individuals earning $30,000 and above. Assistance for America, for instance, could discuss employee benefit programs that include services it offers.

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