Mailer Revs Up Interest for Auto Magazine

Dealer HQ, a business development center for the automotive industry, begins the final drop in two weeks of a direct mail campaign touting, its new CD-ROM-based trade magazine called dealer power magazine.

The company sent 19,000 copies of its virtual magazine to car dealerships around the country on March 9 and will mail 6,000 in two weeks, reaching nearly all of the 25,000 dealerships in the United States.

The mailing contains a CD-ROM with the premiere issue of the magazine shipped in a brightly colored case. The magazine, which looks to provide dealerships with information and services they need to operate, will be mailed bi-monthly and will be free. Those receiving the first issue will have the opportunity to cancel their subscriptions if they don't want to receive further CD-ROMs.

Matt Funke, director of operations at Dealer HQ, said CD-ROM recipients were pulled from the company's database. Targeted were the heads of marketing departments, parts and service managers, finance and insurance managers, and sales managers.

“We might refine this list based on the results of the first mailing and how many people decide to opt out,” he said.

Dealer HQ decided to use a virtual format rather than a traditional print magazine to differentiate itself from all the other automobile magazines available.

“It's a better way to get more attention,” Funke said. “There are a ton of different publications out there and this gives us a chance to differentiate ourselves. You're talking about a flat piece of paper versus a virtual display of the magazine.”

Dealer HQ plans to generate revenue from sponsorships it has formed with companies that will offer their products and services in the magazine. There are currently 15, including, Auto Web, Urban Science, and CD Now.

The mailing comes with an account key code the recipient uses to access the magazine. Once he does, that is considered a “magazine response.” Using a new patent-pending technology called AutoSurvey, the CD-ROM will track, respond and report on the user's activity automatically whenever the user is connected to the Internet. Also through the Internet connection, advertisers can change offers on the CD-ROM based on activity or feedback.

“If a user is staring at a flash animation of a sponsor's product display for more than 30 seconds, the technology tracks that and will initiate whatever type of direct marketing effort the sponsor has designed,” said Don Traub, president of, Daytona Beach, FL, the direct marketing agency that created and designed the CD-ROM for dealer HQ. “It will send the user either a voice mail, an e-mail or a traditional direct mail campaign saying, 'hey, you have shown some interest in this product,' and then make an offer.”

Sponsors can choose from four different levels of sponsorship — platinum, gold, silver and bronze. The platinum level allows a sponsor to provide a flash animation of their product and sell it directly from the magazine without linking back to their site. Other levels include only a listing of the product or service with a link back to the site.

Sponsors receive real-time activity reports on their products and offers that they can access by going to a password-protected area within the Web site.

The magazine is divided into 15 departments, such as sales department, finance and insurance, back office, dealer resources, service parts and accessories and stress relief. Some of the content uses flash animation and video.

Traub said each campaign will cost in excess of a couple of hundred thousand dollars. But the cost for dealer HQ is less than $1 per piece because sponsors share the production costs.

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