08/21/12 — The Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors, Debbie Drury, has been published in the Houston Business Journal (pictured above Courtesy of the Houston Business Journal). We are very proud of Debbie for her accomplishments in the business world, and for her continued support of Texas EquuSearch. Please see article below:
Market Doctors provides marketing TLC
Direct-mail firm keeps pace with changes by adding texting campaign
Premium content from Houston Business Journal by Tanya Rutledge, Special to Houston Business Journal
Date: Friday, August 17, 2012, 5:00am CDT
Debbie Drury, owner and president of Market Doctors Direct: ‘I do whatever it takes to ensure the success of clients, even on a personal level.’
Debbie Drury doesn’t mind going against convention when it comes to mixing business and friendships. In fact, it’s a staple of her business.
Drury, president and owner of direct-marketing firm Market Doctors Direct, gets to know each of her clients personally, following them through marriages, divorces, birthdays, job changes and deaths in the family.
In fact, when the terrorist attacks of 2001 took their toll on the automobile dealership industry — which is responsible for about 90 percent of Market Doctors’ business — Drury kept up with many of the executives who lost their jobs, sometimes even helping them find new ones.
That strategy paid off big for Market Doctors, essentially expanding its dealership client base once the economy got back on track. While all of the existing dealerships stayed on as clients, Drury added new clients when the executives landed at new dealerships.
“It ended up being a blessing for our company because I kept in contact with those people, sending them birthday cards or letting them know if I heard of a job opening,” Drury said. “Sometimes my clients joke with me about being a job placement firm, but I do whatever it takes to ensure the success of clients, even on a personal level.”
While the auto dealership industry is Market Doctors’ “bread and butter,” the firm also works with smaller businesses such as dentist offices, pool companies, furniture retailers, Realtors, restaurants and even churches.
Drury launched Market Doctors in 1998 as a third-party telemarketing firm, but as marketing strategies began to evolve, so did the company, eventually branching out into direct mail and the compilation and marketing of industry lists.
Today, Market Doctors focuses on direct mail and digital marketing — telemarketing was phased out in 2000, and lists were phased out about three years later — billing itself as a hybrid of communication mediums that combines traditional advertising with digital technology.
A new area of the business involves marketing by texting targeted messages to individuals who have opted-in to receive information from a business.
This less-expensive form of marketing allows smaller businesses such as restaurants, chiropractors, dry cleaners and other service providers to carry out marketing campaigns at a lower cost than direct mail, Drury said.
Direct-mail campaigns, however, are still responsible for about 90 percent of Market Doctors’ revenue.
Drury said a big part of a successful direct-mail campaign is getting the message to the right person.
For example, a direct-mail campaign for a car dealership in the Deerbrook area fell flat when it advertised a golf tie-in. The message didn’t reach the right audience, Drury said, and likely ended up in the trash. The piece was redesigned to offer a gift certificate for the mall, and the campaign took off.
“The mail has to get to the right person,” Drury said. “You can have a piece of paper that says ‘call me,’ and as long as it gets to the right person, you will be successful. People still like to open mail.”
Drury said some of the company’s direct-mail campaigns, which are easily measurable, can give clients a return on their investment as high as nine times what they pay for the campaign.
Some Market Doctors clients include Houston’s Group 1 Automotive Inc. (NYSE: GPI); Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based AutoNation Inc. (NYSE: AN); Duluth, Ga.-based Asbury Automotive Group Inc. (NYSE: ABG); and many privately owned dealerships, including Baytown Nissan Inc.
While direct mail is still king, Drury expects the new texting campaign option to significantly boost revenue this year.
She is working to create and roll out area-specific advertising directories that contain coupons and texting prompts for local businesses, which would pay to be listed in the directories. In addition to providing a lower-cost alternative to direct mail, texting campaigns help businesses build their client databases, Drury said.
To prepare for the shift to new technologies, Drury began assembling an in-house information technology team about two and a half years ago.
“There is a huge paradigm shift taking place, and we have to be ready for it,” she said. “I see us shifting from a marketing company to also becoming a technology company.”
Drury’s data shows that 97 percent of text messages that are sent get read, and 85 percent get a response, extremely high rates when it comes to advertising. When text messages include free offers, coupons or specials, the response rate can be even higher.
“We even have people in River Oaks who want free things,” Drury said. “It’s very effective.”
Despite the medium that is used to convey the message, Drury said she traces everything back to understanding the clients’ business, which, to her, also means connecting with them on a personal level.
“It all comes back to developing a personal relationship with them,” Drury said. “A client might spend $2,500 a month with us, or they might spend a quarter of a million dollars a month, but they will never know the difference based on our relationship with them.”
Market Doctors Direct
2011 revenue: $4 million
2010 revenue: $3 million
Top Exec: Debbie Drury, owner and president
Business: Direct-marketing firm that combines traditional advertising and marketing with digital technologies
TANYA RUTLEDGE is a freelance writer.