Tupelo — Do you feel that unsolicited faxes are a nuisance?
So does Deborah Presley, owner of Fax of the Day, a growing facsimile-based direct advertising company based in Tupelo. “If people get too much, they don’t want any of it,” she said.
Wait a minute, Presley operates a business that is dependent on sending thousands of faxes a day to business throughout north Mississippi yet she supports any legislation to curtail faxed transmissions.
What’s the catch?
The catch is Fax of the Day is not unsolicited, Presley said. It is a free, subscriber-based publication that has grown over the last two years to almost unimaginable levels — simply by word of mouth. If fact, it’s grown so well that Presley issued her first two franchises earlier this year.
Besides Tupelo, Fax of the Day is now in Oxford, New Albany, Batesville, Pontotoc, Starkville, West Point and Columbus, and later this month will start in Booneville and Corinth. All totaled, Presley said Fax of the Day has a subscriber base of more than 3,700 businesses and industries.
Mixed in with small ads Presley blends in a bit of humor, personal antidotes, news and community news and notes. A weekly trivia contest that rewards winners with free lunches or other prizes has become a big hit, she said.
Started in July 1996 by Presley in the attempt to run a home-based business and tend to her two children, Fax of the Day took off almost overnight. Starting with a database of roughly 500 fax numbers in the Tupelo area, that grew to over 1,200 in just seven months.
And advertisers like restaurants, dry-cleaners, real estate agencies, although a little reluctant to sign-up with a new and untested advertising medium at first, slowly began to come around, too.
After just six months, since January 1997, Presley has had all of her advertising space filled and has only needed to approach advertisers on the rare occasion a client drops, she said. So successful has Fax of the Day been that starting in a couple weeks it will go from two pages to three, Presley said.
“I can’t remember the last time I did a cold call,” said Presley, a former sales executive and vice president with two leading companies in the direct mail industry. She moved to Tupelo from Indiana in 1995 with her husband Ken.
Ken, born in Oxford but raised in West Point, started in the advertising and direct marketing business with Deborah but switched to pharmaceutical sales and was anxious to get back home after living in Los Angeles and Indianapolis. And Deborah, although raised up north, longed for a milder climate she, too, had enjoyed in Los Angeles. Although she literally cried when she heard they were moving to Tupelo, she soon found the area wonderful. Ken has since turned down transfers to Nashville, Memphis and Jackson because they like the area so much.
Although happy with the area, Fax of the Day arose from Presley’s ambitious nature. After trying to be a stay-at-home mom, and after a few short-lived work experiences, Presley said she realized there was potential for a new advertising vehicle in the growing Tupelo market and remembered a similar fax business that was successful and profitable in Indianapolis.
A little investment in the right computer equipment and other minor expenses and the business was off.
Presley said outside of the experience in advertising and direct marketing, the computer technology is what has allowed Fax of the Day to be successful. Although she prefers to not go into detail, Presley said a specific technology for fax broadcasting not in use anywhere in the region is what has allowed the business to be successful and even put a few competitors out of business.
While some broadcast systems can support sending a couple of hundred faxes, few can handle the thousands Fax of the Day delivers every day from 5-7 a.m.
Outside of the technology that makes delivery possible, Presley said the product itself is a unique. “It gets their day started with a smile,” she said. “We knew the key was that we had to make it something people would like to receive.”
Presley said plans are for Fax of the Day to expand both vertically and horizontally. Over the next several months new products and services will be offered and the company plans to grow substantially by franchising and by entering new major marketswhere she believes office and factory workers will enjoy a little pick-me-up and advertisers will find a great vehicle to sell their product or service.
While some ads are promotional ad in nature, most are coupons that can be copied and returned to advertisers for discounts on services. Presley said compared to some other advertising vehicles, the amount of coupon returns using Fax of the Day is sometimes more than triple.
“No one advertising piece will work for everybody but fortunately we’ve worked for a wide variety of people,” she said. “And there’s nothing I like more than helping people build their business.”