The saying “What you don’t know wont hurt you” may be true, but not in business! When we began offering direct mail 15 years ago, we vended out our print and mail services to outside vendors. In doing so, we learned first-hand of the complications that many companies experience when sending their print to a third party. Because of this, we invested and have brought all production in-house. To avoid the hassle of bringing your print in-house as a result of these complications, here are some questions and points of advice to ask your third party vendor to ensure that they are qualified to execute and deliver the services you pay for. ►When ordering data, ask your provider if it is exclusive to you within their company. Most will tell you the data is exclusive, but not really! Many data providers and marketing firms earn their living by reselling the data multiple times. This means the data you purchase may have been recently purchased by one of your competitors. This is a big problem for your campaign if the consumers are receiving multiple offers from competing mortgage companies at the same time. Look for a company that omits your orders from their own clients within at least a 30-day window to ensure minimal overlap with your competitors. You want to be exclusive as you can get! ►When utilizing pre-screened data, you want a provider that can facilitate and expedite your approval to receive this it if you’re not already approved. It is a requirement to be approved with the respective credit bureaus to receive their sensitive information. It is common for unscrupulous vendors to sell credit data in a non-compliant manner, or misrepresent county-derived data as credit-driven information. If you receive “pre-screened data” from a provider and were not required to go through an approval process to receive it, you are exposed to compliance violations that are being pursed heavily by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Beware of this! ►Ask your marketer if your mail piece is exclusive to your company, or if your design is one of their ‘stock’ designs. You want to avoid companies that only provide stock designs, and instead, look for those that build custom proofs for each client they work for. Mortgage marketing companies that offer stock designs won’t tell you that five-plus other companies are using the same piece and it’s a copy from a different marketing company. It is very important that your piece always be fresh and compliant. You want to choose a marketing firm that can offer custom designs and changes to your piece in a flash due to the constantly changing industry. Custom pieces are a must! ►Ask the marketing firm if they handle all aspects of your campaign in-house. This is where so much frustration can come into to play. If they do not have the data, print and mailing under one roof it is a disaster waiting to happen and a lot of money wasted. I have found it is almost impossible to have firm control of your marketing campaigns if the vendor uses a company separate from themselves for any aspects of your campaign. In addition, a company that manages your print in-house will also have more control on short-notice orders or rush delivery jobs. Get an all-inclusive marketer! ►Make sure your marketing company can show you proof that the mail being delivered to the United States Postal Service! It is important to know that you can demand this from your provider. During my original experience when vending out print, I found that I could not get the proof of the mail drop and postage from third-party printers. Because of this, I could not give my clients what they deserved; the peace of mind knowing their campaign went out the day it was suppose to and for the quantity it was suppose to be and the cost paid for postage. Get the proof! ►It’s imperative to know you are doing business with a reputable company. No matter what you do, investigate the background of marketing company you hired, whether it’s from an excellent referral doing long-term business with them or on the Better Business Bureau Web site. At worst case, always ask for three referrals doing business with them reputably for 12 months or longer. This shows the company is reliable and can perform on a long-term basis. Referrals are a must! In short, when you partner with a firm that handles all aspects, from data, design, mail and print, you end up with your own marketing department at your finger tips. Joan Pianatadosi, president and CEO of Titan List & Mailing Service Inc. has led her company as a full-service marketing firm for the mortgage industry for the past 15 years. As one of the very few marketing companies that handles all aspects of your campaign in-house, from the data acquisition to your design, print and direct mail, their clients are in control of every aspect of their campaign with no middle man. Titan List & Mailing Service Inc. clients are able to make one phone call and have the confidence that their campaigns are executed and delivered as paid. Please visit www.titanlists.com or call (800) 544-8060 for more information.