Advanced Financial Services’ Dana Fortin on What’s Working in the Mail
Financial services depend on direct mail to get new customers and keep existing ones, but few lean as heavily on their direct mail program as does Advanced Financial Services (AFS), a residential mortgage lender based in Middletown, R.I. It not only mails between 40 million and 50 million pieces a year, but 96 percent to 97 percent of its leads come through this channel—and that’s been the case since the company was launched in 1983.
Considered a pioneer in alternative financing, AFS generates nearly all of its business through the mail. Also unique is its sales process, as AFS doesn’t use any outbound telemarketing. Such practices—along with giving out loans to people who can afford them now, and down the road— not only have made it an industry leader, but also helped AFS weather the recent subprime mortgage and adjustable mortgage rate storm.
I recently caught up with Dana Fortin, vice president of marketing for AFS, after the DMA07 Conference & Exhibition, where she spoke on the topic “This Worked. That Didn’t?”
Ethan Boldt: How many times per year do your customers see your mail?
Dana Fortin: Our customers can see us anywhere from two to six times in any given year. A good percentage of the people that we mail to have definitely seen us, and there’s always new people coming onto our prospect list—through credit issues, new jobs and new income situations. They may fall out of our model scores and come in later in the year. We work in eight-week campaigns, and anywhere from 15 [percent] to 20 percent of our mail is some sort of test.
EB: How has the current subprime mortgage and adjustable mortgage rate situation affected your direct mail?
DF: Some of the modeling is affected, in the sense that the current depreciation is an issue that we’re dealing with. But overall, we never really went into a product that was on the fringe, so we’ve been very lucky.
If anything changed in the creative, it became more credibility-based. The fact that we’ve been around 25 years, the level of experience and education in our loan officer base, that’s where we’ve tweaked up the creative just to give the customer a little bit more of a comfort level—that we know what we’re doing, and we’ve been doing it for a long time.