I recently read about how a guy sent 100 letters to companies to see how much free or discounted stuff he could get.
Funny actually, because I knew he was going to have some success, it was just a matter of how much. I wanted to take his idea to the next level and try to hook my ride at the same time. I’m not going to send 100 random letters though, I’m going to communicate with just a few and get really creative with the letters.
In my opinion, people who write letters to companies are only a few of every thousand, and out of those a large number of them are extremely effective in getting a response from that company; usually with some financial or customer-service benefit. I think this is becoming a lost art form, I’m going to do my best to keep it alive. Wish me luck!
I am one of those “letter-writing” people who have a capacity and the patience to write a letter, and on top of that I write well, and I love to do it. I’ve written more than a few letters to corporate about this and that, and most every time I’ve written I’ve gotten an positive response. I also tend to ask nicely, and I find I get better-than-average responses.
Let me take a step back and clarify for a moment, I’m not talking about EMAIL here… I’m saying that you either print out a letter you’ve typed up on your PC, and you put it in a real envelope and mailed it from the post-office. You can also hand-write your letter, but the point is that you really SENT A LETTER.
Electronic communiques don’t count, anyone can send an email or use a company’s contact form on a website. It takes more effort to actually print something, write an address on an envelope, and put a stamp on it. This increases the value of sending a physical letter.
Fast forward to this past week, I decided to use a regular mail campaign to communicate with some companies that make performance auto parts. Why? I need new shocks on my car, that’s why!
Well there’s more to it than that, but still, the catalyst for this is my squeaking shocks, and how I need to replace them. So what’d I do? I did some searches for manufacturers of auto shocks and also added in some performance groups too, and I made a list with the company’s home address.
I wrote a unique letter that was engaging to them, and even challenged them to see if they “had the right stuff” for my car. I sent out each letter with a picture of my car (an ’06 Dodge Magnum) and my signature.
My primary goal is to see if any of them respond with more information, any discounts, and even if they wanted to send me some free products (really hook up my ride) in exchange for some branding or even my own blogging or social media mentions.
I just got my first response today (Thursday), and the letters went out on Tuesday – Not bad huh? In that letter, I was given a really nice response, along with a product recommendation and a 20% discount. I’m looking forward to seeing more from this, and of course, I would love it if Chip Foose would steal my car for a week.
Lie to me please! Tell me my car was stolen, lost, smashed, whatever,… but then please be overhaulin’ it at the same time.
While I’m waiting for Chip to call, I’ll post new responses here. I bet my letter-writing campaign pays off!
Update – July 15, 2013
So far I have received about 4 emails from the 10 letters I’ve sent. Two of them were nice responses with links to their products online, one of them offered a 20% discount on their shocks. The other two
were interesting for different reasons…One of them was really quick and said, (basically) “yes, we sell auto shocks, offered at parts store or online” [I’m thinking that english wasn’t his native tongue, probably chinese]
(ok, so that one was pretty weak) but at least he emailed me!
The other interesting response was a really good one! The person who answered gave me some of his own real-life experiences with different suspension ideas, how he has upgraded his own Mopar car with the products he was talking about, and even offered some other insights as to what I could do, even more options.
I actually went back and forth with him with questions, and he replied quickly. As a consumer, I’d be more likely to buy from them because he actually gave me useful and practical information.
Update – October 24, 2013
With nobody has come knocking down my door to pimp my ride with a slew of performance parts, No stickers highlighting the brands of shocks and parts under the hood. I’m sad to say – this social experiment failed, but it was a long shot I guess. I had recently caved and bought the parts I needed (and a few I didn’t know I needed), and I got my car fixed.
This involved new Shock/Strut/Coil combos for the front, I ended up getting a deal on Gabriel Shocks and they even had a cash-back rebate promotion that I participated in, so I feel like I got a great deal. My ride is running smoothly and close to what it was when it was new. I also ended up replacing my outer tie-rod ends, and I got some MOOG performance parts that really made a difference. I did have to jump through hoops with buying parts on Amazon, and haggling with a few local garages to get them installed and a front-end alignment, but again- I did it my way and did it for less.
I feel for all the people who just goto the dealer (aka the “stealership”) to get their cars fixed. It’s almost comical how much markup is on auto parts, think 200% if you’re trying to be accurate, the parts is a BIG source of revenue for a garage.
In a nutshell… nobody offered to come over and totally revamp my car (no calls from Chip Foose or the Overhaulin’ crew either), but I proved that you can get responses from a letter-writing campaign. There are still a few responses I haven’t gotten yet, and I’m thinking that I won’t at this point.
Maybe that’s why the guy that inspired me (the one who wrote 100 letters) knew that you needed more to get what he wanted?
PS – The old saying “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is very true here, so I have used the nice method in most cases, and only gotten really abrasive in the past with a company that hadn’t responded to me through their traditional channels (phone,fax,email, etc); in the latter case the letter went CERTIFIED, because they failed to respond.
IF you take the time to write a letter and mail it, you’ve done more than 99% of consumers out there, and you’re very likely to get a good response.
By Louis Wing