Cox Direct Cooks Up Mailing Guide

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Cox Direct, Largo, FL, has assembled feedback from a year's worth of client interviews into a handbook for direct mail restaurant marketing that, and a new database, spearhead the cooperative mailer's expansion into the restaurant industry.

The "Reference Guide," a 50-page binder, outlines the uses of direct mail and current trends in that industry and provides step-by-step instructions to increase business through a cooperative Carol Wright or solo mail marketing campaign to three restaurant segments: quick service, family style and casual dining. It also provides tips on selecting a target audience, developing offers and producing creative inserts.

"What we were able to do is spell out to [clients] that you can do this and it won't cost that much," said Brendon Carroll, national sales manager at Cox Direct, who joined the company last year to start the restaurant group. "Some of the national clients haven't been able to target this effectively at such a low cost."

Cox Direct is appealing to restaurants with a database of 25 million promotion responsive, high consumption households it unveiled in March, which has turned Carol Wright from a saturation to a targeted mailing program. The database was compiled from multiple sources, including direct mail responders, and contains only households of homeowners with children up to age 17 and incomes of $20,000 or greater.

Forty percent of the current recipients of Carol Wright packages -- which are mailed 10 times a year and contain an average of 20 coupons, samples or other offers -- were missed in mailings before the launch of the database. The income screen alone has eliminated 22 percent of the households previously reached. According to company studies, nine of 10 recipients visited a quick-service restaurant in the last month and 22 percent dined at a steak house six or more times over the same period.

A consumer spending shift on food from grocery stores to restaurants is expected to accelerate during the next decade, according to a report by McKinsey & Co., Falls Church, VA, and that will create an even larger market for clients to target.

CEC Entertainment, Irving, TX, had used Carol Wright in the past and has started testing again as a supplement to its marketing plan for pizza franchise Chuck E. Cheese.

"Their targeting is a lot better than it used to be, the way they have it set up with their database," said marketing manager Piper Shealy. "We will use it market by market. We do the newspaper inserts on a national basis. This would be more of a fill in, or if we have competition that we would like to target."

In addition to Chuck E. Cheese, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar's, Red Lobster, Baskin-Robbins and Carvel participate in the co-op program.

"Clients kept telling me mass marketing is dead,'' Carroll said. "One of the nice things about the new Carol Wright is we can take a store list and deliver to households with children. That eliminates a huge amount of waste."

The guide was introduced at the Neighborhood Marketing War College and Florida Restaurant Show late last month and is available free of charge by contacting Carroll at 727/393-1270 or via e-mail: There are no plans to market it by mail.

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