Last Friday I received an advertisement in the mail from a dealership that has multiple locations within the Southeast. They were having an open house at all five of their facilities which included a hamburger or hotdog lunch and door prizes. I read the oversized tri-fold mailer as I walked from the mailbox into the house and then onto the back deck and sat down.

As I looked at the specials they were offering and the various addresses, I realized that we live within a few hour ride from two of their business locations. One of which was in northern Alabama, the other just over the state line in North Carolina. Then I thought to myself; this could translate into a road trip for the wife and I on the Fat Boy. The route would take us through either the northwest Georgia mountains or the northeast Georgia mountains and into the base of the Smokey's.

Wow! What better idea would there be for a sunny, 80º Saturday than an all day scooter ride!!

Then it happened! The elevation of excitement was over faster than a thirty second roller coaster ride at Six Flags. As I glanced to the bottom of the front page, I realized the ending date for the event is the same afternoon that I pulled the mailer from our mailbox.

I'm not sure if I was actually more disappointed and upset that the trip had ended before it began (not that I need an excuse to ride) or the fact that the company that paid the printer for the material and mailing was looking at a short turn out for the event. Or in other words; a very short return on the investment.

The following Monday I made a call and talked with senior management of the dealerships. I started with a brief introduction and then proceeded to ask how the attendance was during his four day event hosted last week. He had gone on to say that the turnout was much lower than anticipated and blamed some of it on the economy.

I then proceeded to give him the scenario that I had encountered with his promo mailer and my thoughts on what and where things went sideways. Assuming that he hired an ad company to print and mail over one hundred thousand brochures without any verification checks in place was not the answer. There may have been a few of the pieces delivered with time remaining but based on the attendance rate, I would have to assume that most recipients received theirs late as well.

Many say the downfall to mailing printed material is the lack of tracking. I disagree! There are definitely ways to monitor these issues and prevent this from happening to your business. You just have to put them in place and understand how they work.

Ending on a positive note; I know the next mailing he sends out will be printed and mailed at a printer here in Atlanta that is owned and operated by a close friend of mine….

There are two morals to this story. You choose which one applies to you.
I - Be aware of who prints for you, especially when it comes to your livelihood.

II – And for those who pride yourselves on fast turnaround, pleasing color and cheap, Keep in mind that if you don't perform for the best interest of your customer, someone else will!