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View Full Version : Let's Revisit Direct Mail


David Gretzmier
09-18-2007, 12:55 AM
I am geting ready to mail out 3-4 sets of postcard mailers, looking at jumbo-postcards, full color front and back, and printed, demographic sorted and postage/mailed. I am thinking 1000-1500 will cover the 150k income and 350 k home value set in my two counties I service with about 400k folks in total poulation.

Quantumail.com looks pretty good at around 46-50 cents per piece printed and mailed for jumbos, but you guys may have better suggestions.

I'm not sticking stamps and mailing labels and printing on my laser printer, but I might be open to printing one place and sending to another for postage / list and labels.

as far as demographic breakdown-what has given you guys the best addresses for a response, and what return could I expect? have you had more response from home value, income level or both? any other critria that I'm missing here that matters?

I am of course looking at the standard card deal- picture of a house lit, catchy saying and limited info and address on back. maybe mix it up a little, but you get the idea.

what is a realistic goal? I spend 3k, get 15k in sales? spend 5k and get 25k?

I'm willing to spend some, but I realistically don't have too many homes in my area that I can mail to. to get 10,000 pieces I'd have to did down towards 250k and below in home value, or below 125k in income ,and I don't do hardly any homes in that for Christmas lights or landscape lighting. but you guys might convince me otherwise- advice appreciated !!!

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
09-18-2007, 09:30 AM
David. I don't use mailers, or any other form of direct advertisements or promotions. We are strictly a referral business here with the occasional full page, full colour adverstisement placed in high end periocicals.

I have always thought about direct marketing efforts in this frame of reference: "What types of marketing do I respond positively to?" When you receive direct mailers, door hangers and the like at home, do you read them? I usually toss them out with the junk mail. As such they are a wasted effort.

Another thing to consider is your target market and how they will respond. If you are tageting high end homes and clients, things like direct mail, hangers, flyers and even print ads are less likely to succeed. The top end clients tend not to spend much time 'shopping' through ads and directories, opting instead for using referrals from peers.

Have a great day.

Firefly Lighting
09-18-2007, 07:31 PM
David- I use direct mail as my primary source of advertising. Of cource we get alot of referrals but I have always found that I get a good response (2% is a good response) and it has been a good ROI. If I were you I would just mail to the higher demographic and hit them multiple times. One year I had 4 different cards made up and sent them out one after the other 20,000 in total and found that one card pulled better than the rest by far so I sent that card out for probably 2 years with good results. I have done both large and small cards and can't honestly say that I have seen much difference in the return they get, but the big card sure does look good.

Good Luck,

David Gretzmier
09-18-2007, 08:22 PM
firefly- would you mind emailing me the card that worked best for you? I am looking for the right words and phrases, I prmomise I won't steal your picture. Or Just give me an idea of why you think that card did better. so a 2% response would be 20 people calling on a 1000 card mailout? or 20 bids? or 20 closed sales? let me know, I need to know what to expect or hope for.

I've tried direct mail in the past and it has failed miserably. I'm hoping for a better result this time around.

extlights
09-19-2007, 12:37 AM
Honestly we have never even seen a 1% response ratio on direct mail...it's usually about 1/2 of a percent. However with that said, I do believe it is the best advertising for this type of business. I also believe you're location will play a big role. We do minimum 350K homes and 150K income, but that's hardly a high end client around here. In some of our areas that even falls way short to the average median home or household income.

Referrals are great, but you need a good client base and a lot of good contacts to make it in this business on referrals alone. We've been in business long enough to work off of referrals, but we still do direct mail and will continue to do so. Direct mail is tricky, but once you find a good piece it can really boost your business.

David Gretzmier
09-19-2007, 11:16 PM
so 1/2 percent- that would be 5 calls, bids or 5 jobs off of a 1000 piece mailer? since I am looking at around 500 bucks to mail each 1000 pieces, and If I get 5 jobs at 3 grand, 15k, to me that is still an excellent return. however, If I do 5 bids and get 1 job, maybe not too excited about direct mail...

Chilehead
09-19-2007, 11:26 PM
Do door hangers. Yeah, it will take a day of your time. Yeah, it can seem inconvenient. However, a customer is literally forced to take the hanger off of their door and look at it. If it looks really good, and they are in the market--they will come. I have had 2-3% response with 60% of those closing a sale with me. Sometimes, someone who did not need my services gave the door hanger to someone who did.

pete scalia
09-19-2007, 11:48 PM
Do door hangers. Yeah, it will take a day of your time. Yeah, it can seem inconvenient. However, a customer is literally forced to take the hanger off of their door and look at it. If it looks really good, and they are in the market--they will come. I have had 2-3% response with 60% of those closing a sale with me. Sometimes, someone who did not need my services gave the door hanger to someone who did.

That's a novel idea at the very least given out to neighboring properties where you are doing a job.

Chris J
09-20-2007, 08:57 AM
David,
I've written about this before at great length, but I'll just touch on a few points. Direct mail post cards is, by far, the greatest ROI that we have done. However, every demographic is different as you can see by the responses you are getting in this thread. My advise is to mail them to the highest value homes (at least homes valued at 500K), and keep mailing it to the same people every 45 days until they see it at least three times. Repetition is the key. Additionally, 1/10th of one percent is not unusual when first starting out. However, if I told you that I would give you $3000 back for every $500 you gave me, would you not ask everyone you know for a temporary loan? By the way, even if your first mailing results in only one job, the yard sign you put out should result in another and then you can attribute 2 jobs to the $500 you spent; correct?
Again, every demographic is different. I have done radio, high-end magazines, community newsletters, inserts, etc... the card is the best for us, but you will have to try it to see what it does for you. But don't just half-ass it and mail out one card to some people and then quit. You have to keep your name in front of them. Look at it this way; other people will be trying to get their lighting business too. When the potential customer makes the decision to finally have lighting installed, they will call the number of the person they remember most or the one that comes in the mail next.

Chris J
09-20-2007, 09:00 PM
Another thought that I frequently teeter on is this: If you're list is based on income level, I'm thinking that will cut out a great majority of wealthy retirees (which are a large part of my client base) because they no longer have the large incomes they did when they were in their professions.
Another way (and cheeper to do) is to mail by carrier route. If you have specific areas of you county that is predominatly "high end", you can have mail to these areas specifically without specific names and addresses. Your cards would simply say something like "To our neighbors at...." and the mail man on that route would deliver to all of the homes on his route. With this scenario, however, you will be picking up everything on his route like apartments, condos, mobile homes that just happen to be still in the area and so forth.
Just more info, hope it helps.

klkanders
09-20-2007, 09:25 PM
Good info Chris and right on!

David Gretzmier
09-20-2007, 10:11 PM
Man, I'm scared the next person will post and say they only get 1 response for every 5000 cards. so now I am down to .1% response, or 1 out of every 1000 cards. since I was planning on 1000 cards, that is tough to build a business on. so I get one job. kinda tough to get excited about. I am still gonna do it, but man, I hope the phone rings at least TWICE.

Chris J
09-21-2007, 06:07 AM
It does sound tough when you look at it from that perspective, but you have to look at it in terms of dollars spent vs. dollars gained. As I said, If you can get $3000 for spending $500, it's a no brainer. You will then want to spend $5000 to make $30,000. Would expanding your market a little bit be a consideration in order to allow you to open up the size of you list?

extlights
09-21-2007, 10:55 AM
Direct mail is what it is. It can be very successful one time, and not so much the next. Just remember, we're talking about a response rate here, not guaranteed projects. The rest is up to your sales ability.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
09-21-2007, 03:28 PM
It does sound tough when you look at it from that perspective, but you have to look at it in terms of dollars spent vs. dollars gained. As I said, If you can get $3000 for spending $500, it's a no brainer. You will then want to spend $5000 to make $30,000. Would expanding your market a little bit be a consideration in order to allow you to open up the size of you list?

Chris... it all depends on what you mean here. When you say "get $3000 for spending $500" are you referring to sales revenue, gross profit or net profit? If you are 'getting' $3000 in sales from a $500 ad marketing expense then I would suggest you are spending WAY too much money on marketing. (Assuming $1500 of the $3000 is gross profit {before fixed expenses} then you are spending 33% of profits on advertising!!)

When I buy a full page, full colour ad in a glossy magazine and drop $1200 to $1500 on that ad I generally expect it to generate between $25,000 to $50,000 of revenue (sales) now that is an expense ratio I can live with.

It all depends on how you interpret your numbers.

Have a great day.

extlights
09-21-2007, 04:34 PM
We tried the full page ad once and we got nothing....of course if it only cost us $1200-$1500 for it, we'd definately try it again. How much run time do you get for that price and what kind of magazine?

Yes, whatever you spend on your direct mail is considered overhead. That's part of the reason you really have to watch the numbers when dealing with direct mail. Usually you get price breaks when you send more out, or have more cards made up. These breaks might not seem very large, but they can and will play a large role in determining your bottom line. Figure out pricing on sending out 1000 cards and then 10,000 cards. Assuming your response ratio is about the same, the odds are in your favor of getting and closing deals and keeping your advertising spending percentage intact.

Chris J
09-21-2007, 05:47 PM
Chris... it all depends on what you mean here. When you say "get $3000 for spending $500" are you referring to sales revenue, gross profit or net profit? If you are 'getting' $3000 in sales from a $500 ad marketing expense then I would suggest you are spending WAY too much money on marketing. (Assuming $1500 of the $3000 is gross profit {before fixed expenses} then you are spending 33% of profits on advertising!!)

When I buy a full page, full colour ad in a glossy magazine and drop $1200 to $1500 on that ad I generally expect it to generate between $25,000 to $50,000 of revenue (sales) now that is an expense ratio I can live with.

It all depends on how you interpret your numbers.

Have a great day.

The exaggerated example given above is just for conversation purposes only and assumes that only one (1) job is received by spending $500 on direct mail. The example also assumes that the one job obtained is only a $3K job, but could also be described using a $25K job. Whether or not it is sales revenue, net or gross profit is of little value to the point I was trying to make. Obviously, if the above scenario is all that one could gain out of a direct mail campaign, he or she would be foolish to continue with that business plan. For me, however, I built my business (in the beginning years) on this simple but effective marketing strategy and my family and I are almost up to three square meals a day (each)! :jester:

David Gretzmier
09-21-2007, 10:02 PM
I am willing to try direct mail to see if it works for a few months. I have tried radio, tv, magazines and newspapers, and direct mail in the past, and have had limited success at best with all those mediums. My last attempt at direct mail for Christmas lights got a zero reponse for 3 mailings. I am trying a better list, larger card, and also larger number of cards more times. I have gotten little or no response from tv, radio or print media. most of our clients come from signs, yellow pages or truck graphics.

I am finally at a point that I want to grow Christmas lights more than what the three things that are working are producing. I also have some funds to do one mailing per month for the next 5-6 months or so.

even though the example was exaggerated, I am tired of waiting for the Landscape light business to take off on it's own, because signs, yellow pages and truck graphics are not bringing any sales. so the first two mailings are Christmas lights and the next 3-4 will be Landscape lighting. If I spend 2500-3500 dollars total and it generates 25,000-35000 in sales, I can stomach that. I would gladly spend 3500 per month on direct mail if I knew I could count on 35 grand in business from that.

Chris J
09-21-2007, 11:29 PM
We did an installation today for the owner of a "home improvement" type magazine that I advertise in sometimes. They can also do the cards as they are in the "printing" business. This installation was a barter or trade for two months circulation in the magazine with a distribution of about 150,000. The installation would have cost in the neighborhood of $3800. Because of the high circulation rate however, I'll probably get 30-40 calls (This particular magazine doesn't produce very good call response). After some prequalification on the phone, I expect the end result will be about 10-15 jobs. Well worth the trade and the extra effort I'm going to have to put forth weeding out the tire kickers.
Maybe this is something you might want to consider trying for yourself?

David Gretzmier
09-28-2007, 10:41 PM
I went ahead and ordered today from quantum mail. jumbo card, 100lb high gloss UV coated, color on one side and black and white on the other. 922 sent, 125k income and up, and 250k home value and up. I picked every zip code within 50 miles of me and that is all the addresses they had. I'll keep you guys posted on my response, I'll do another mailer in November. both of these are Christmas mailers, and December, January and February are Landscape lighting mailers. each mailing costs 600 bucks. about 63 cents per card, more than I'd like but I am new at the mailing thing. I'll get better.

Chris J
09-29-2007, 07:43 AM
David,
I really wish you wouldn't start your post card campaign for landscape lights in the 1st quarter of the year. The last part of December, all of January and February are usually a slow time for landscape lighting around here and I don't want you to have a bad experience with this right off the bat. You already have a really small market, and I would like to see this work well for you. I tend to think if you start direct mail during this period, you will become frustrated with it and stop doing it alltogether.
By the way, you should be able to get all of this done for around 44 cents or less per card for everything (printing, production, list, sorting and postage). If you need some references for future mailings, I'll be happy to pull some of my references for you. Also, Billy and Mike M. have done this recently and probably have some up-to-date info that they can share with you.
Good luck, I'm hoping you get lots of business!

David Gretzmier
09-29-2007, 05:01 PM
Yeah, most of the quotes I've seen for jumbos printed, mailed,addressed are 46 cents or so. But you start upgrading, and going after demographics, the price goes up. I paid 3 cents per card for actual home value ( not "median"), 3 cents per card for verified income ( not "median", 4 cents per card to upgrade to 100lb stock, 2 cents per card for UV coating, etc. 8 cents per card for design.( even though I designed it !) Once I figure out which card gets the best response, I'll do printing elsewhere in 10000 quantities for a price around 6 cents a card, and use a separate company for addressing and postage.

Most folks I've talked to seem to think that the darker months are better landscape light sales. people come home at 5:30 from work and it is dark. So I was thinking that winter months are the ideal time to show off homes with great lighting.

I'll be spending 3 grand on direct mail over 5 months, so I am expecting maybe 6-10 grand in Christmas lights and 10-20 grand in landscape lights.
we'll see.

Chris J
09-29-2007, 06:26 PM
I don't want to beat a dead horse, but this was the only way I used to advertise in the beginning and it did work beautifully. I am truly hoping the same results for you. Again, good luck with your efforts.

David Gretzmier
09-30-2007, 12:17 AM
Chris and others- what kind of volumes do you guys direct mail, given your population, what number of folks do you mail to? we have around 300,maybe 400,000 folks in two counties, and I was surprised I only ended up with 920 addresses or so. If you figure you want to mail the top 1% that should be 2000 addresses, given two folks in a household. Chris I sem to remember you sending out ALOT of cards in another thread, but I can't find it.

ALarsh
09-30-2007, 01:02 AM
So I plan to send out 5,000 direct mailings to 250k + homes and 60k+ incomes. You think it is realistic to expect 75 calls and 45 accounts (we do all landscaping, mowing, clean-ups, etc)? I had approx. 3000 doorhangers go out and picked up around 25-30 accts.. and i'm sure the amgios threw some out.

FERT-TEK
09-30-2007, 12:30 PM
Free bump

This is something I know little about and want to keep an eye on the posts and suggestions for next year. I have 1000 postcards printed and want to see how you guys have done it.

Chris J
09-30-2007, 01:10 PM
Chris and others- what kind of volumes do you guys direct mail, given your population, what number of folks do you mail to? we have around 300,maybe 400,000 folks in two counties, and I was surprised I only ended up with 920 addresses or so. If you figure you want to mail the top 1% that should be 2000 addresses, given two folks in a household. Chris I sem to remember you sending out ALOT of cards in another thread, but I can't find it.

It's been a while since I looked at the numbers, so I'll have to do some research to give you an accurate count. My area is very large, and is comprised of 5 major counties. The main county in Jacksonville is Duval county, and I believe the population is somewhere around 2 million. When I try to pull a list based on "home value", I will sometimes get very radical results. For instance, If I were to ask my listing agent to send me a list right now of every home valued at 500k or higher, the list would probably be around 10,000 addresses. I know this is inaccurate, and that there are a lot more homes in Jacksonville that are worth at least this much. Around here, pretty much any "above average" home will cost this much. However, I really don't know why the lists are always so low.
As far as how many we mail to, it varies depending on what else I have going on. Right now, I'm not doing any because I'm doing a card deck with City Publications which is a deck of cards packaged together and sent out to 50,000 homes every quarter. I'm also doing a monthly magazine publication that I traded for an install. When I go back to the direct mail piece, I'll probably send out about 15-20,000 cards every 45 days and do this 3-4 times. As I said, my list won't have that many names if I ask for home value, so I'll probably do it by carrier route. This simply means that I'll pick out several areas of town that I know are high end neighborhoods. The mail man on each of these routes will deliver one of my cards to each home on his route. This way is also cheeper, but you also have some loss because your card will end up at apartments, condos and less desirable homes.
Let me know if you need more info.

Lite4
09-30-2007, 04:30 PM
Chris,
If you don't mind, could you PM me with the info on your printer and demographic lister. Mine is too expensive.
Thanks

bmwsmity
09-30-2007, 06:58 PM
However, I really don't know why the lists are always so low.


my guess is the search is being done based on "assessed" value by the county auditor. these values are often MUCH less than true value.

when performing searches, i search by "sale amount." this way it is a true market value as long as the sale is recent.

the other thing is that if the searches are based on sale amounts, the values can be skewed much lower based on sales that maybe occurred 15 years ago.

i do very low volume mailings...maybe 500 a month at most. i recently sent out a mailer to all the homes on the same street as a current client i just did work for. i only mailed to 14 homes, and i got a call the DAY AFTER i mailed it out. this equals about a 7% response rate, which is unheard of in direct mail, especially for low-volume and on the first mailing.

much of success in direct mail (and any marketing) is focusing efforts on highly targeted prospects. for instance, i never market to homes worth less than about $700k. to me, it costs just as much to mail to a $1.5mil home as a $150k home, so why mail to someone with less ability to buy?

i'm still honing my direct mail, but this small victory this week was very sweet.

if you have the time to write down street names of good areas and then look the names and addresses up on the county auditor's site, it can save a lot of $$

David Gretzmier
09-30-2007, 08:04 PM
I have the ability on quantum mail to do streets, and I'll be doing that on the next mailing. I recently did a landscape lighting job in a very nice but dark neighborhood, so I'll hit all those streets in that neighborhood.

I'd also like to spend a rainy day on google maps putting in addresses of all my Christmas light clients and listing streets they are on and nearby streets.

on home value:
quantum lets you choose between assesed value, or "actual value" which factors in recent sales of homes nearby and difference in assessed values, and adjusts assesed value by that difference. since some homes are not assessed but every 10 years, they factor how old the assessment into it as well. but many homes are still missed because I factor in income. many nice homes are owned by retirees, and they rarely hire me. They may have a lawn guy, but they only spend 2 grand and up on repairs.

Ambiance
10-01-2007, 04:12 PM
Keep in mind, when you mail to houses of a certain value. Not sure about your particular area, but just because a house is valued at over $500,000.00 does not make this person a good candidate. I look at houses in this price range and a lot are run down and not maintained.
Reason being, these people paid $46,000.00 or whatever years ago.
A better list is people who PAID over $500,000.00 if you get the difference. Much more likely to upgrade the property.

FERT-TEK
10-01-2007, 07:53 PM
Another thought that I frequently teeter on is this: If you're list is based on income level, I'm thinking that will cut out a great majority of wealthy retirees (which are a large part of my client base) because they no longer have the large incomes they did when they were in their professions.
Another way (and cheeper to do) is to mail by carrier route. If you have specific areas of you county that is predominatly "high end", you can have mail to these areas specifically without specific names and addresses. Your cards would simply say something like "To our neighbors at...." and the mail man on that route would deliver to all of the homes on his route. With this scenario, however, you will be picking up everything on his route like apartments, condos, mobile homes that just happen to be still in the area and so forth.
Just more info, hope it helps.

Chris, with this type of mailing (Carrier Route) where do you start the process? Do you identify the neighborhoods and then go to the post office or is this strictly done through companies that sell mailing lists?

FERT-TEK
10-01-2007, 08:03 PM
Have any of you guys gone in and bought a mailind list with someone else. Someone who does not compete with your service. Lets say a landscaper with a fert guy or a lighting guy with a carpenter etc. In my example I am in the fertilization business and my brother has a handyman business. Seems to me you could save quite a bit of money if it could be done.

Once again I have never done direct mail and know nothing about it so this may have been a stupid question.

Chris J
10-01-2007, 08:28 PM
Chris, with this type of mailing (Carrier Route) where do you start the process? Do you identify the neighborhoods and then go to the post office or is this strictly done through companies that sell mailing lists?

The mail house that sends these out for me usually does this for me. To tell you the truth, I really don't know how they do it. I just give him a list of areas listed by priority, and he keeps on doing his thing until he has reached the number of cards that I tell him to send out. If you wanted to do it manually, I'm assuming that you would do it at the post office.

Chris J
10-01-2007, 08:31 PM
Have any of you guys gone in and bought a mailind list with someone else. Someone who does not compete with your service. Lets say a landscaper with a fert guy or a lighting guy with a carpenter etc. In my example I am in the fertilization business and my brother has a handyman business. Seems to me you could save quite a bit of money if it could be done.

Once again I have never done direct mail and know nothing about it so this may have been a stupid question.

When you buy a list, they will usually give it to you whichever way you want it: CD, Floppy disc, or emailed directly to you. Once you have it, you can do whatever you want with it. The company that sold it to you, however, would probably not want you to do this, but I don't believe there is too much they can do about it.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-01-2007, 10:10 PM
Around these parts you can simply head to the post office and tell them which FSA's (forward sortation areas = the first three digits of our postal code) you want to send admail to.... they take care of the rest and give you a nice bulk discount on postage too. I can only imagine that the USPS would do the same.

All of the FSA's and the correllating census economic data is available online for free from our postal service too. (Collaboration between a public corporation and a huge public burreacracy that actually works! who woulda thunk it?)

Okay, I have now officially used a tiny smudge of my University degree in Economic Geography for the good of the public.... any and all further consultations in demography, statistics, location analysis, public policy and demographic marketing will come at a standard hourly rate of $95. Any takers??? (That would be $97.50 per hour in US funds!)

Have a great day.

jlouki01
10-02-2007, 09:17 PM
www.usps.com/netpost is pretty economical

Chris J
10-02-2007, 09:36 PM
Around these parts you can simply head to the post office and tell them which FSA's (forward sortation areas = the first three digits of our postal code) you want to send admail to.... they take care of the rest and give you a nice bulk discount on postage too. I can only imagine that the USPS would do the same.

All of the FSA's and the correllating census economic data is available online for free from our postal service too. (Collaboration between a public corporation and a huge public burreacracy that actually works! who woulda thunk it?)

Okay, I have now officially used a tiny smudge of my University degree in Economic Geography for the good of the public.... any and all further consultations in demography, statistics, location analysis, public policy and demographic marketing will come at a standard hourly rate of $95. Any takers??? (That would be $97.50 per hour in US funds!)

Have a great day.

Can I get a military (or veteran) discount?

David Gretzmier
10-02-2007, 11:48 PM
what, the canada dollar has went above the US dollar? also, looked at the us post office direct mail thing- that is interesting...

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-03-2007, 08:11 AM
what, the canada dollar has went above the US dollar? also, looked at the us post office direct mail thing- that is interesting...

David... amazing isnt it? The Canadian Dollar reached Par with the US Dollar last week. Here and in the rest of the world it was BIG news. In the US I dont think it got mentioned.

Also check out the value of they Euro against the US Dollar.... it is also at an all time high. Some economists are predicting the Canadian Dollar to be valued at twice the US Dollar by sometime near the end of 2008. There is also talk of quoting Oil and Gold in Euros very soon. This will mark a major global shift in perception.

Too bad none of your 'state controlled news media' (the networks) report on this stuff... I guess they are too concerned with the latest news of Britney Spears.

Have a great day.

Ambiance
10-04-2007, 08:19 AM
So James, do you think that means our suppliers will be dropping their prices big time LOL, my guess is not.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-04-2007, 08:40 AM
So James, do you think that means our suppliers will be dropping their prices big time LOL, my guess is not.

Well I would expect that my distributor will reflect the change in currency values in their 2008 pricing. They don't usually change prices mid year though, which means they are certainly doing well for now.

When the loonie jumped from the mid 0.60s to the mid 0.80s two years ago I know that they did in fact reduce their prices by a few percent.

Certainly the gap is not being passed on to us in retail stores.... I am seriously considering heading South with all my valuable Canadian dollars for my next truck. The last time I checked they were about $15K cheaper for the exact same truck! And to think they build the darned things here in Oshawa and then send them South!

Have a great day.

David Gretzmier
10-04-2007, 11:08 AM
well now this will hopefully stop all those pesky canadiens from coming down here and stealing our jobs. what we need is a wall to keep out those illegal canadiens...:laugh:

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-04-2007, 11:49 AM
Not to worry David.... I don't have eyes on Arkansas. But who knows? With the way your housing market is crashing, you just might be 'enjoying' an influx of us rich CanadIANs soon.

Hmmmm now let me see... A nice summer home in the Hamptons, and definatley a winter home in Naples, I cool party pad in LA, and perhaps a mountain retreat... Colorado or Washington? So hard to decide when provided with so much buying power! Sheesh I better get back to work!

Mike M
10-06-2007, 09:04 AM
I went to my post office and had to pull someone from the back to review options... Unfortunately they didn't know too much about carrier route numbers and maps and bulk mail discounts and they didn't refer me to the USPO website. But they did tell me I needed to buy a permit in order to get bulk prices.

So I figured the best way is to pay a company to do my mailing for me. However, "Click-2-Mail" looks cool. No permits, etc. Can anyone compare this service with the services offered by direct mail companies?

I was wondering if the USPO subcontracts this with a private business or if they do this by themselves.

Mike

David Gretzmier
10-14-2007, 12:30 AM
Just thought I'd give you guys an update on my direct mail journey. According to Quantummail.com, my postcards were printed on 9/28 and mailed on October 2. I say according to them, because I have gotten Zero response. No calls. It is disheartening, yet I know that direct mail takes multiple mailing, etc. but still. ZERO? even at .5% response on 922 cards there should have been 5 calls. One call would have at least let me know that they were out there and someone got them.

This has happened to me before 4 years ago, but it seems folks have had success with direct mail, so I thought I'd give it another shot.

To spend 600 bucks and get nothing, it hurts. what is worse, I may be a glutton for punishment, I am looking to do this again at the 1st of November. perhaps by then someone who "hung onto" the 1st mailing may call.

what hurts more is at the same time, my brother ran an "advertorial" that looks like an article in the paper but is really an advertisement. his market is 1/5 the size of mine, and he got 11 calls, 3 bids and one close so far. and spent 340 bucks. At least he knows it was in the paper.

So what I need folks, Is for you guys to tell me whether I should continue to mail, or spend my money elsewhere. I have done 5 bids this week from yellow pages, referrals and graphics. I'll close 2 of those. Should I try to generate leads elsewhere or continue to hammer direct mail?

pete scalia
10-14-2007, 12:55 AM
Direct mail is more for big branded companies that have huge budgets. For them it's not a big deal if a mailing or two doesn't yield results. They can afford it. For Small niche businesses every dollar spent must return 2. We are better served by developing relationship business via referral. Glossy postcards sure do look good and are an ego rub but they rarely bring in a windfall of business.

pete scalia
10-14-2007, 12:59 AM
"To spend 600 bucks and get nothing, it hurts. what is worse, I may be a glutton for punishment, I am looking to do this again at the 1st of November. perhaps by then someone who "hung onto" the 1st mailing may call."

What is it they say the definition of insanity is- Doing the same thing over and expecting different results.

ALarsh
10-14-2007, 11:17 AM
Maybe try a different direct mail company? Try vistaprint.com or have them send the postcards to you, then you personally bring them to the post office?

pete scalia
10-14-2007, 11:30 AM
Maybe try a different direct mail company? Try vistaprint.com or have them send the postcards to you, then you personally bring them to the post office?

Why are you encouraging him to lose more of his money?

ALarsh
10-14-2007, 11:33 AM
Well i'm not encouraging him to lose money, but I am offering different ideas. I have had great success growing my company with door hangers, so I will be trying direct mail next spring because it is pretty much the same concept except a lot less work having them mailed.

NightScenes
10-14-2007, 11:38 AM
I went to my post office and had to pull someone from the back to review options... Unfortunately they didn't know too much about carrier route numbers and maps and bulk mail discounts and they didn't refer me to the USPO website. But they did tell me I needed to buy a permit in order to get bulk prices.

So I figured the best way is to pay a company to do my mailing for me. However, "Click-2-Mail" looks cool. No permits, etc. Can anyone compare this service with the services offered by direct mail companies?

I was wondering if the USPO subcontracts this with a private business or if they do this by themselves.

Mike

Mike, if you are a member of your local Chamber of Commerce, you can use their bulk stamp if you send out at least 250 pieces.

pete scalia
10-14-2007, 11:56 AM
Well i'm not encouraging him to lose money, but I am offering different ideas. I have had great success growing my company with door hangers, so I will be trying direct mail next spring because it is pretty much the same concept except a lot less work having them mailed.

Door hangers are a different beast. The cost and reliability of delivery much different now.

ALarsh
10-14-2007, 12:05 PM
Cost isn't a huge deal for me, because I am sick of managing people, calling them up asking them if they can get these out. Going around and making sure they actually put them on the doors instead of dumping them in a ditch, etc. After paying people to put them out, the difference in cost between doorhangers and direct mail is minimal, if they all do go out that is.

NightScenes
10-14-2007, 12:15 PM
You really should only hanger the doors around the home that you are working on. This way the people can see your work when they drive or walk by. I hang the doors about 3 houses on each side and 6 or 7 across the street. That way your not wasting a lot of time and your work is right there.

pete scalia
10-14-2007, 12:31 PM
You really should only hanger the doors around the home that you are working on. This way the people can see your work when they drive or walk by. I hang the doors about 3 houses on each side and 6 or 7 across the street. That way your not wasting a lot of time and your work is right there.

Excellent advice. Now we are moving forward. Sending a direct mail piece blindly is equivalent to cold calling. Door hanging near project sites makes cents. Dollars and cents. This man knows what he's talking about.

Ambiance
10-14-2007, 12:40 PM
A simple tip anyone doing direct mail should do, is add your own or a friends address to the mailing so you have a timeline of when your potential customer received the card.

Firefly Lighting
10-14-2007, 08:39 PM
It is probably different in each area of the country and there are alot of variables to why you may or may not get a response to the direct mail. All I know is that I have been doing direct mail for nine years and it is my best source for sales besides referrals. The company that you go with on the printing and design of the card and especially the mailing is a huge factor. If I were someone looking to do direct mail I would tell them to find a company that is local that can design, print, and ship them. The big internet companies are cheaper but you will get a better product and assurance of delivery from the local company. To each his own but to me direct mail is the only way to go.

Mike M
10-14-2007, 09:01 PM
Dave, Chris mentioned direct-mail success may take three mailings to the same resident before they respond.

Don't worry about the 6 hundred, I spent that on my 1 year church bulletin ad and have only gotten to fix a blown-down tree. I won't buy that ad agin when it expires.

I'm planning on doing a mailing to one community (we have many high end homes concentrated on particular mail routes), and doing three mailings, just to see how it pans out.

Nov 4 is DST, and I'm planning on doing the mailing then.

Chris J
10-14-2007, 10:41 PM
It is probably different in each area of the country and there are alot of variables to why you may or may not get a response to the direct mail. All I know is that I have been doing direct mail for nine years and it is my best source for sales besides referrals. The company that you go with on the printing and design of the card and especially the mailing is a huge factor. If I were someone looking to do direct mail I would tell them to find a company that is local that can design, print, and ship them. The big internet companies are cheaper but you will get a better product and assurance of delivery from the local company. To each his own but to me direct mail is the only way to go.

At least I'm not the only one who has experience great success with this! All I can say is keep plugging away. Repitition is the key; you have to keep your name in front of them. I'd hate to be the one responsible for egging you on if this never catches on in your territory, but I can't help but remember how scepticle I was when my mentor told me to do this very same thing. I followed the advise (word-for-word) and didn't try to put my own spin on it with my own "annalogies" of the market. I just mailed the freakin cards every 45 days to the same damn people!
Is there any way you could post the card that you are mailing so I could at least make sure it's ok? Send it via PM if you wish, but I'd like to have a look and help you out if I can.

bmwsmity
10-15-2007, 06:43 PM
I'm a definite fan of direct mail as well.

Sometimes is just comes down to precise targeting.

I just got a 30 light job from a 15-piece mailing, first time. The guy called me the day after I mailed it!

Some of this may be luck, but it comes down to having the right offer (call to action), the right credibility in the message (I mentioned I have another customer on the same street), and ease of making contact with me (I gave my web address, email address, and cell number).

This is why there are so many variables in response rates. You can mail out a perfectly targeted piece to 10,000 people and get nothing IF THE OFFER ISN'T EFFECTIVE! The ad copy must be compelling...it must address a "needs gap" - something the customer needs that YOU can provide, and it must give a very compelling reason to buy (a perceived great deal).

Also of note, I have customer testimonials on my site, which helps add credibility. I can't tell you how many people have chosen to call me because of my website. This is why I include it in ALL mailers.

ALarsh
10-15-2007, 06:48 PM
Care to share your postcard?

bmwsmity
10-15-2007, 07:04 PM
Here's the ad copy, which is simply printed on back of the Kichler Postcards I got for free.

Is Your Beautiful Home Dark at Night?

Well now is the time to change that! Right now, (my company) is offering a fall discount.

Simply present this card to get XX% OFF any new lighting system installation, current lighting system upgrade, or current lighting system repair.

(My company) maintains and installs premium landscape lighting systems and we service all brands. We also offer affordable quarterly maintenance programs to ensure your lighting is always looking the best it can.


(Contact Info)

Nice and simple. First, a potential needs gap is addressed (dark house). Next, the compelling reason to consider my company is given (discount). Next, the specific needs items that can be met are given (new system install, current system upgrade, or repair).

Next, brand positioning statement is given (premium lighting), and service after the sale issues are addressed (maintenance program).

Finally, contact info is given that provides ease of contact. I also am sure to mention that the number I give is my cell, which lets the prospect know that they can call anytime and get an answer, and that I also am not some fly-by-night who will take your money and run.

Now, if you are in my area, and use this message, I'll hunt you down with my posse. J/k...maybe.

:drinkup:

NightLightingFX
10-15-2007, 07:44 PM
FYI,
I have been struggling with this issue also. I have tried direct mail with very little success. I realize it is something you have to do constistantly but it gets awfully expensive FAST. I need some reliable way to market. I am seriously thinking about trying "Valupak" at the end of this Feb. I understand Chris J has been doing something like this successfully - is that right Chris? I might give it a try. However, I need to commit for four months at $700 a month. If the person trying to sell me the ad package has me do some lighting for her house then I will definatly give it a shot. She seems awfully confident that it will help my business. If I spend $3000 in advertising in order for me to make a decent profit I figure need to get something like $15,000 worth of business. On the other hand if I don't do nothing - nothing is going to happen. I haven't built up enough customers to be getting a lot of referrals. However, I did get one referral this summer. This marketing thing is a *****. It is very easy to piss away money fast. I need to establish a solid marketing game plan. So far I think I will definatly do the local home and garden show again. I got one good job and some really good recognition last year. I am not sure I know what I am going to help my marketing.
~Ned

NightLightingFX
10-15-2007, 08:15 PM
Another marketing technique I want to develope, but it seems like I never can get around to it is speaking at organization lunches / dinners etc. I did a little presentation at a local Master Gardner's meeting last year. And just last month I got contacted by a Master Gardner who saw me at the meeting last year. I did a small lighting job for her. I think if one can get on a local speaking circuit they might be able to do some solid marketing damage.
~Ned

klkanders
10-15-2007, 08:28 PM
bmw, I am thinking that guy would have called you also had you hung that postcard on his door. Did you do lighting at his neighbors house? If you did and he saw that and then got your offer i think that is what prompted him to call you and then get sold on the idea.

What I am saying is a repeat of what has been said before. Alot of people need to see something of quality and good design before they know they want it. You did that. Its the old "keeping up with the Jones" not letting the neighbors have something that they don't. I assume the other 14 mailings went to the surrounding neighbors as well right? I might have hand delivered them the day I finished the job myself. 1 out of 15 is great! Good Job!

Chris J
10-15-2007, 10:12 PM
Here's the ad copy, which is simply printed on back of the Kichler Postcards I got for free.

Is Your Beautiful Home Dark at Night?

Well now is the time to change that! Right now, (my company) is offering a fall discount.

Simply present this card to get XX% OFF any new lighting system installation, current lighting system upgrade, or current lighting system repair.

(My company) maintains and installs premium landscape lighting systems and we service all brands. We also offer affordable quarterly maintenance programs to ensure your lighting is always looking the best it can.


(Contact Info)

Nice and simple. First, a potential needs gap is addressed (dark house). Next, the compelling reason to consider my company is given (discount). Next, the specific needs items that can be met are given (new system install, current system upgrade, or repair).

Next, brand positioning statement is given (premium lighting), and service after the sale issues are addressed (maintenance program).

Finally, contact info is given that provides ease of contact. I also am sure to mention that the number I give is my cell, which lets the prospect know that they can call anytime and get an answer, and that I also am not some fly-by-night who will take your money and run.

Now, if you are in my area, and use this message, I'll hunt you down with my posse. J/k...maybe.

:drinkup:

Smity,
This card that you have. Is the picture of a red brick home, with spiral topiaries in front of the entrance columns?

FYI,
I have been struggling with this issue also. I have tried direct mail with very little success. I realize it is something you have to do constistantly but it gets awfully expensive FAST. I need some reliable way to market. I am seriously thinking about trying "Valupak" at the end of this Feb. I understand Chris J has been doing something like this successfully - is that right Chris? I might give it a try. However, I need to commit for four months at $700 a month. If the person trying to sell me the ad package has me do some lighting for her house then I will definatly give it a shot. She seems awfully confident that it will help my business. If I spend $3000 in advertising in order for me to make a decent profit I figure need to get something like $15,000 worth of business. On the other hand if I don't do nothing - nothing is going to happen. I haven't built up enough customers to be getting a lot of referrals. However, I did get one referral this summer. This marketing thing is a *****. It is very easy to piss away money fast. I need to establish a solid marketing game plan. So far I think I will definatly do the local home and garden show again. I got one good job and some really good recognition last year. I am not sure I know what I am going to help my marketing.
~Ned

Ned,
I don't do the Val-Pak thing. That is just a little too cheesy for my taste, and lumps you into a group of advertisers like pizza shops and carpet cleaners. You may be referring to a card deck that I'm in with City Publications, but this "pack" is usually more tailored to the upper end home improvments like pools and spas, summer kitchens, etc... I've received good results from this advertising medium, but you are correct about it getting expensive really fast.

David Gretzmier
10-15-2007, 11:51 PM
Thanks for many responses, positive and negative. I got two calls today from folks who got the card, TODAY, so maybe it is just making it's way to the mailbox of folks. set one appointment, so we'll see. Since this is a Christmas light mailer, some folks may be thinking it is not Halloween yet, so I'll call later. I'll be doing another mailer that will be hitting mailboxes on Nov. 1st thru 10th, so hopefully that will have a better response.

I am at least now aware they were mailed and received.

I'll keep you posted.

extlights
10-16-2007, 12:54 AM
Well if it makes you feel any better, we got 6 jobs this year from people who received our mailing last year. No, it wasn't revenue last year, but people do hang on to the mailings if they are interested...even if they have to wait a year before they can afford it.

bmwsmity
10-16-2007, 08:03 AM
Smity,
This card that you have. Is the picture of a red brick home, with spiral topiaries in front of the entrance columns?



Ned,
I don't do the Val-Pak thing. That is just a little too cheesy for my taste, and lumps you into a group of advertisers like pizza shops and carpet cleaners. You may be referring to a card deck that I'm in with City Publications, but this "pack" is usually more tailored to the upper end home improvments like pools and spas, summer kitchens, etc... I've received good results from this advertising medium, but you are correct about it getting expensive really fast.

Yes Chris...I noticed that this same pic is on your website? That isn't the infamous "house on the side of another contractor's truck" is it?

Ned, I would HIGHLY recommend NOT doing Val-Pak, mainly because of the obligation to buy multiple months.

Why do you think they tie you in like that? Same reason the Yellow Pages does....because they DONT WORK!

You've got to keep in mind that Val-Pak is a very shotgun approach...they go to everyone...including apartment residents, so there is HUGE amounts of waste.

Even if you do things the slow and relatively expensive way like me (look up individual subdivisions on the auditor's site, then print the cards and mail them myself), for $700 you can still reach 1400 prospects in one mailing, or 700 prospects twice.

True, ValPak reaches thousands for that $700, however, there are also about 50 other offers in that Pak, and there are thousands that get that Pak that would never be a prospect anyway.

At least with mailings you can go at your own pace, so if you have a bad month you aren't locked into a big payment like Val Pak or Yellow Pages.

If you are looking for really cheap ways (FREE) of getting business, why don't you network with some landscapers that don't do lighting or have an interest in it. I've got about $10,000 in work from only 2 landscapers this year...all I did was call them up out of the phone book and meet with them.

Hope this helps.

NiteTymeIlluminations
10-16-2007, 08:07 AM
and don't forget to mention that your distributor is always helping you find dark streets around your area...lol....

bmwsmity
10-16-2007, 08:08 AM
bmw, I am thinking that guy would have called you also had you hung that postcard on his door. Did you do lighting at his neighbors house? If you did and he saw that and then got your offer i think that is what prompted him to call you and then get sold on the idea.

What I am saying is a repeat of what has been said before. Alot of people need to see something of quality and good design before they know they want it. You did that. Its the old "keeping up with the Jones" not letting the neighbors have something that they don't. I assume the other 14 mailings went to the surrounding neighbors as well right? I might have hand delivered them the day I finished the job myself. 1 out of 15 is great! Good Job!

The funny thing is, the job I did was simply re-wiring a few connections and replacing some bulbs - in the backyard! So actually, the guy never saw my work. I think the effective element in the message was that SOMEONE LIKE HIM (a neighbor) chose ME.

The other element in this was that I already knew the people on that street have a very high propensity for choosing the same service providers. My first customer there mentioned to me that the guy who mows grass there has nearly every home on the street. This is what led me to creating a message that played up to the "your friends do it, you should to" idea.

Now, with that said, after I finish this job, in which the whole design is my doing, I will door-hang that whole street, and I'm also planning on mailing to the entire subdivision. I did a drive-through last night and most of the lighting looked like total crap and/or wasn't even on still at 8:30pm, which lets me know their service providers don't keep in contact with their people very well. Lots of potential there...I think it might be my new focus subdivision!

bmwsmity
10-16-2007, 08:13 AM
and don't forget to mention that your distributor is always helping you find dark streets around your area...lol....

That brings up a good point Doug!

Guys, it is absolutely ESSENTIAL that you have a distributor who is willing to assist you in your marketing efforts! I can't tell you how many hundreds of dollars Doug has saved me in the cost of marketing materials, not to mention the time of finding areas that have great potential.

Oh, and don't forget...marketing is not just advertising, it is everything you do in your business, including pricing and AVAILABILITY of product too.

I have won at least $20,000 in work since April because I was able to start the job the next day and finish quickly - this was made possible by having a distributor who keeps great inventory so I don't have to. (that's Doug).

Chris J
10-16-2007, 08:50 AM
Yes Chris...I noticed that this same pic is on your website? That isn't the infamous "house on the side of another contractor's truck" is it?
.

No, that's not the one. The picture you have is one that I gave them years ago. I don't mind that you have it either because you are not in my market, so don't think I'm getting upset. However, this is the type of thing I was talking about in that previous thread on photo contests. Instead of you being from Ohio, you could very well be from my area and have been given that card. Then I would be upset.

David Gretzmier
10-16-2007, 04:21 PM
two more calls today, one from a marketing girl who complimented me on the card. I did not get a hard copy of the card, so I offered her a 5% discount if she presented it to me at the door at the bid appointment. she said she kind of liked it on her fridge and would be sad to see it gone ! It is a phot of a really nice home with christmas lights, wreaths, mini-lights. I have only seen it on the internet. set one appointment with the marketing girl. no sales yet, but at least activity.

JoeyD
10-16-2007, 04:58 PM
We offer pre printed marketing materials for guys who do not want to spend the money to have them custom made. You can get door hangers, postcards, info packets, and photo discs. Just contact me w/ any questions!!

NightScenes
10-16-2007, 05:28 PM
There are some really good distributors out there that can and will help you grow your business. My local distributor actually gave me money toward my magazine ads. It came out to about $1500!! That's amore!!

bmwsmity
10-16-2007, 10:09 PM
There are some really good distributors out there that can and will help you grow your business. My local distributor actually gave me money toward my magazine ads. It came out to about $1500!! That's amore!!

Hmmm...hey Doug, I've been thinking about Cincinnati magazine for a while now.... :laugh:

NightScenes
10-17-2007, 09:19 AM
I should say that I think part of that money came from the manufacturer because I put their logo in the ad. (it was small though)

NiteTymeIlluminations
10-17-2007, 09:25 AM
I've done that magazine, Cincinnati, numerous times the results were dismal. Done Design, done super shopper, etc...

bmwsmity
10-17-2007, 07:06 PM
I've done that magazine, Cincinnati, numerous times the results were dismal. Done Design, done super shopper, etc...

Yeah, kinda the shotgun approach, hardly worth the money.

What about Home Improvement? Much cheaper. I really wish I could have been in the issue a couple months ago where a certain company said that "path lights should always be set in concrete." Brilliant.

Chris J
10-17-2007, 09:46 PM
Wow, what genius said that?

David Gretzmier
10-17-2007, 10:37 PM
3 more calls today, 7 total now, and two more apointments. no closed sales yet. This direct mail thing may work.

Chris J
10-17-2007, 10:42 PM
They will keep coming. Some people are holding on to them as we speak, and are going to call you at a later date. It's now your job to close the deal! Keep us posted David!

bmwsmity
10-18-2007, 06:16 AM
They will keep coming. Some people are holding on to them as we speak, and are going to call you at a later date. It's now your job to close the deal! Keep us posted David!

good point chris. i had someone call like 2 weeks after i mailed one time.

bmwsmity
10-18-2007, 06:18 AM
Wow, what genius said that?

yeah. oh, it was the same genius that i had to do a 75% system replace on, including replacing his stupid concreted in path lights!

oh well, traded out the beat-up marine paths for some nice Illuminator 4's.

NiteTymeIlluminations
10-18-2007, 09:11 AM
Chris, you do any magazines?

Chris J
10-18-2007, 09:35 AM
Chris, you do any magazines?

I've done several in the past, but found that the cost really didn't justify the return. We have a few high-end "coastal living" type magazines and home improvement mags, but I never seem to get any results at all. I still do a mag called Money Pages, which is kind of like a coupon book. It's right on the borderline of what I would consider "cheesy", but somehow people respond to it really well. It cost about 2,800 per issue (published monthly but I don't do it every month), but I'll usually get 5-6 jobs from it.

NightScenes
10-18-2007, 10:49 AM
I am trying a high-end quarterly magazine that I have seen in a lot of my clients homes. We took out a full page ad for the first one and 1/2 page ads for the rest of the year. We'll see how it goes. Thus far, we have only gotten a few calls from it. If this keeps up we will not renew the contract. We seem to do fine without advertising anyway.

NiteTymeIlluminations
10-18-2007, 11:15 AM
yeah...I just dont think print magazine ads work for this industy for some reason. Maybe if they are doing an article on lighting or something...not sure...the acct executives always seem so puchy and pissed off if you say "no" though so I try to avoid even talking to them. I would,if they weren't like this, call them all and offer my assistance on a lighting article for their home section or outdoor section, and make a few suggestions on who to call for ads...but i just don't feel like dealing with them.

NightScenes
10-18-2007, 11:38 AM
They have used me as an "expert" in articles and have listed my company in things like "100 Fabulous Finds". This gives a little more added value but I'm still trying to decide if it's worth it.

bmwsmity
10-18-2007, 06:28 PM
yeah...I just dont think print magazine ads work for this industy for some reason. Maybe if they are doing an article on lighting or something...not sure...the acct executives always seem so puchy and pissed off if you say "no" though so I try to avoid even talking to them. I would,if they weren't like this, call them all and offer my assistance on a lighting article for their home section or outdoor section, and make a few suggestions on who to call for ads...but i just don't feel like dealing with them.

In all honesty, I wouldn't ever consider magazine ads unless I was a much, much larger company, and this would only be to build brand equity. I really just made the comment to you in jest Doug.

Magazine ads are mostly useful only for this purpose...not for getting responses.

As with any company, the best angle to take is simply creating a good marketing mix. Direct mail, yellow pages (small), website, adwords, etc. Then, once all direct response avenues have been covered, building the brand comes via print publications such as magazines.

Oh, so much marketing to do, and so little money to do it with! :laugh:

David Gretzmier
10-25-2007, 11:10 PM
Update- I have gotten about 15 responses from the mailing, and set many apointments, closed one job- $2500, and have 3 appointments next week. my problem now is my next batch goes out soon, so tracking the original batch will be tough because people just say I got a card in the mail. but direct mail seems to work, at least in bids and a few sales...

ALarsh
10-26-2007, 12:09 AM
I forgot if we went over this already, but what company did you use for the mailings?

David Gretzmier
11-02-2007, 01:34 AM
I used Quantummail.com. updates- 8 bids 2 closed jobs, 3900 in work, and round two was ordered today. it'll hit around the 15th of November or so. it'll be crazy by then, but we always seem to need work just right after the thanksgiving rush. added a discount to this card so I'll know the difference between 1st and 2nd card. hopefully it will help push us to the end. I've got really good help this year with construction slow, so I want to keep my guys extra busy right up until Dec. 10th or so. we'll see .

The Lighting Geek
11-02-2007, 10:41 AM
Here is my 2 cents on this topic.
I believe you must look at two things with regards to marketing. ROI and name branding. I use a 4 prong approach to my marketing plan. 1. I use direct mailers (card decks) because they have the longest shelf life and because I am in a group of cards that are high end, I get calls regularly from them. 2. Full page ad in a high end magazine called Home Improve and Remodeling Magazine and a 1/2 page in House 2 Home. both target the 150k+ income bracket. 3. My trucks are clean and very well marked. I get calls every week from our trucks on sites. 4. A nice website. I send ALL my marketing to my website and I use very simple ads. I don't try to educate my customers, I simply state we are the best at artistic and elegant lighting without saying it. You can adjust your specials and such on the website easier than remaking your cards or brochures. GREAT PHOTOS! You need them. We install about 100 fixtures every week with 3 guys. I am also probably the most expensive from my customers perspective. Price does not matter if your are in front of the right customers. They get it. Yellow pages, newspapers, and cheaply done stuff will pale in comparison.

I want to say some people may know me here, I am not trying to brag. I just want to help the industry. There are other good ways to do this, this is just what I did. I would be happy to help anyone and share what we do with who want to grow their landscape lighting business.

David Gretzmier
11-03-2007, 06:41 PM
Lighting geek- welcome aboard. your 4 prong approach sounds like a winner. I wish I had the same volume as you as I am still stuggling to launch my landscape light business to full time in the off christmas season. I am doing the cards, have vehicle graphics, yellow pages and looking to do other marketing next year. welcome to Lawnsite !

NightScenes
11-03-2007, 06:56 PM
It's good to see you Tommy.

bmwsmity
11-04-2007, 03:42 PM
Here is my 2 cents on this topic.
I believe you must look at two things with regards to marketing. ROI and name branding. I use a 4 prong approach to my marketing plan. 1. I use direct mailers (card decks) because they have the longest shelf life and because I am in a group of cards that are high end, I get calls regularly from them. 2. Full page ad in a high end magazine called Home Improve and Remodeling Magazine and a 1/2 page in House 2 Home. both target the 150k+ income bracket. 3. My trucks are clean and very well marked. I get calls every week from our trucks on sites. 4. A nice website. I send ALL my marketing to my website and I use very simple ads. I don't try to educate my customers, I simply state we are the best at artistic and elegant lighting without saying it. You can adjust your specials and such on the website easier than remaking your cards or brochures. GREAT PHOTOS! You need them. We install about 100 fixtures every week with 3 guys. I am also probably the most expensive from my customers perspective. Price does not matter if your are in front of the right customers. They get it. Yellow pages, newspapers, and cheaply done stuff will pale in comparison.

I want to say some people may know me here, I am not trying to brag. I just want to help the industry. There are other good ways to do this, this is just what I did. I would be happy to help anyone and share what we do with who want to grow their landscape lighting business.


this is a perfect example of integrated marketing man. sounds like you have a great system in place!

how did you develop this? education in school, or just trial and error?

Mike M
11-11-2007, 08:13 PM
Okay, got my camera. What programs are you guys using for layout with graphics & copy?

I want to be using quantummail in a couple of weeks, at the latest.

Didn't want to fork over money for adobe software. Does quantum have a simple post card generator or something?? I suppose a full-sized photo on one side and straight copy with logo on the other would be all I need.

Feedback appreciated from anyone who's done this, thanks!

Mike M

Mike M
11-11-2007, 08:15 PM
this is a perfect example of integrated marketing man

I agree with bmwsmity.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
11-11-2007, 08:45 PM
Mike. No need to fork over a lot of money for Adobe photoshop.... Just get Adobe Photoshop Essentials. (it comes free with many cameras these days) It will have all of the funcionality and features that you will probably ever need.

For really fast croping, rotating, cataloging and editing you can use Picasa from google. It is probably the best quick photo software I have ever found and it is a free download. If you want to get into retouching (removing hot spots etc) then I recommend Photoshop.

Have a great day.

Chris J
11-11-2007, 08:59 PM
Mike,
Your going to need to refresh my memory on this subject. What is quantam? As I have said before, all my work is done professionally as I am still illiterate with a camera at the present time. My post cards (as of late) are 4-color front and back with full graphics and text. These look the best, and give a more professional appearance. I do understand your circumstance, however, and I wouldn't judge you for following through with your current plan. It worked well for me in launching my career! Have fun with your new camera; I'll be asking some questions of you in the near future!

Mike M
11-11-2007, 10:19 PM
Free unlimited digital photography lessons for 1 day lighting design lesson. I will even let you demo my camera for a week or so. I highly recommend you get the Nikon 40 at 10 mp or the similar Canon, but try mine first before you buy anything. The lenses alone make much better pics than quick-snapshot cameras, but more importantly they are great for essential manual over-ride features.

I took these today on my new camera. I'll get some night pics soon, need to use a tripod. These look awesome in full resolution.

Note my fancy dramatic juxtiposition of the us flag in equal proportion to the SC state symbol at the national cemetery in Beaufort. (this is the state that still flies the Confederate flag at the state building). My tribute for Veteran's Day.

The other pic is off Boundary Street in Beaufort.

Quantummail.com is like the leading mail list business; 2-sided full-color (your own pic, logo, etc.) labeling/lists based on your demographic or streets, etc., and postage, all for under 50 cents each. Learned about it here from David and Billy?, and then again from a Remax realtor I met at a chamber event.

NightScenes
11-11-2007, 10:22 PM
Nice shot with the oak tree and the bay!!

Mike M
11-11-2007, 10:24 PM
James, thanks, I'll try the photo software downloads. Do you have any layout recommendations (software) for advertising graphics/logo/copy??

Thanks,

Mike

Mike M
11-11-2007, 10:27 PM
Thanks Paul--I'm like a little kid on Christmas with this camera! It's been a long time since I took photo's of anything other than my family.

The Lighting Geek
11-12-2007, 01:09 AM
this is a perfect example of integrated marketing man. sounds like you have a great system in place!

how did you develop this? education in school, or just trial and error?

I have always been a student of marketing. Not from school but from observation and conversation. I really am an 'out the box' type thinker and I keep tweaking my ads subtly as I get feedback from clients. Listen to your customers! Listen to what grabs their attention and use it.

I use a term I coined "technical elegance" to describe my ads. If you look at magazines like Vogue about fashion you will see they tell you fashion and people buy it. They are one of the trend setters of the fashion world. It is a given that they know. When you see an ad for Rolex, it is understood that your looking at elegance and art. We need to bring that same concept to landscape lighting. We are not just installers, we are craftsmen of an art form. We paint with light and shadow. If you want just a bunch of up lights in front of every tree and a runway of path lights, call your someone else. If you want a craftsman to create art in your yard call a landscape lighting company. I am not trying to insult anyone here but to point out the difference in attitude. If you believe you are a craftsman in your art, it should just ooze out your ads. People will call, and I mean all of the right people. Then you will find out that the price is NOT the important thing, but can you create magic in their yard?

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
11-12-2007, 05:24 AM
James, thanks, I'll try the photo software downloads. Do you have any layout recommendations (software) for advertising graphics/logo/copy??

Thanks,

Mike

Hi Mike. I have always done all of my own photography, editing, logo design and manipulation and ad production. Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw and Adobe Pagemaker have been my goto programs for years.

That being said, my skills are getting rusty and I know there are software packages out there that are much more user friendly and intuitive to use then those three I mentioned. I would be reading some on line reviews of desktop publishing software suites before I dropped any serious cash in this area.

As for photo accessories.... You cannot beat ebay and a company called Amvona. I bought an amazing tripod and monopod from them last year. Both are copies of Manfrotto units that cost hundreds. I paid less then 60$ for each, and they are really excellent units.

When it comes time for you to purchase different or new lenses, flashes, filters and other accessories, look to B&W Camera online. I have found their prices to be the best.

Enjoy your new camera....

(Here are a couple of snap shots I took on Friday afternoon, just outside of my office looking back into our yard. Canon 20D with a 70-200mm image stabilized zoom and a 1.4x multiplier, hand held at about 100' and then at about 25'. It is a barred owl.)

David Gretzmier
11-12-2007, 07:00 AM
Quantum mail has a postcard generator online that lets you bring in your photo, and use a back from thier templates/backgrounds. you can add in text on photo or back. It took me about an hour to do the whole thing from start to finish.

Mike M
11-12-2007, 07:04 AM
That is a nice shot!

JoeyD
11-12-2007, 09:12 AM
I have always been a student of marketing. Not from school but from observation and conversation. I really am an 'out the box' type thinker and I keep tweaking my ads subtly as I get feedback from clients. Listen to your customers! Listen to what grabs their attention and use it.

I use a term I coined "technical elegance" to describe my ads. If you look at magazines like Vogue about fashion you will see they tell you fashion and people buy it. They are one of the trend setters of the fashion world. It is a given that they know. When you see an ad for Rolex, it is understood that your looking at elegance and art. We need to bring that same concept to landscape lighting. We are not just installers, we are craftsmen of an art form. We paint with light and shadow. If you want just a bunch of up lights in front of every tree and a runway of path lights, call your someone else. If you want a craftsman to create art in your yard call a landscape lighting company. I am not trying to insult anyone here but to point out the difference in attitude. If you believe you are a craftsman in your art, it should just ooze out your ads. People will call, and I mean all of the right people. Then you will find out that the price is NOT the important thing, but can you create magic in their yard?


Great to see you here Tommy!

Joey D.

bmwsmity
11-12-2007, 12:04 PM
I have always been a student of marketing. Not from school but from observation and conversation. I really am an 'out the box' type thinker and I keep tweaking my ads subtly as I get feedback from clients. Listen to your customers! Listen to what grabs their attention and use it.

I use a term I coined "technical elegance" to describe my ads. If you look at magazines like Vogue about fashion you will see they tell you fashion and people buy it. They are one of the trend setters of the fashion world. It is a given that they know. When you see an ad for Rolex, it is understood that your looking at elegance and art. We need to bring that same concept to landscape lighting. We are not just installers, we are craftsmen of an art form. We paint with light and shadow. If you want just a bunch of up lights in front of every tree and a runway of path lights, call your someone else. If you want a craftsman to create art in your yard call a landscape lighting company. I am not trying to insult anyone here but to point out the difference in attitude. If you believe you are a craftsman in your art, it should just ooze out your ads. People will call, and I mean all of the right people. Then you will find out that the price is NOT the important thing, but can you create magic in their yard?

Great info...I totally agree that the true craftsmen of lighting need to do a better job of educating consumers about who good lighting really is. Not to insult anyone on here, but there are way too many landscapers or "lawn mowers" that just hack in lighting with zero design consideration.

Pro-Scapes
11-12-2007, 12:17 PM
Great info...I totally agree that the true craftsmen of lighting need to do a better job of educating consumers about who good lighting really is. Not to insult anyone on here, but there are way too many landscapers or "lawn mowers" that just hack in lighting with zero design consideration.

this is exactly why we created a stand alone business for lighting away from mowing and such. We will make our transition to lighting only when it comes self supportive. I agree there are way to may landscape guys just tossing lights in with zero considerations for design or loads/voltage. Then again there are some of us who have and will continue to persue knowledge and practice excellent workmanship and design.

Mike M
11-12-2007, 05:17 PM
Direct mail Q for lighting: what's better for choosing demographics, income or home price? Or has anyone tried region around street address?

Pro-Scapes
11-12-2007, 05:32 PM
Direct mail Q for lighting: what's better for choosing demographics, income or home price? Or has anyone tried region around street address?

we use regional radius for landscape maint and we created our own hand selected list for lighting. I got acsess to the tax websites and was able to just pick the streets I want and then come up with all the names and numbers on that street. Its very time consuming

Now to answer your question... its a 2 way street mike. Sometimes people buy homes they cant afford... other times people with alot of money buy smaller houses just because they dont need/want a large home like my parents did.

Run your target income level or target home level and see what kinda numbers you come up with. Then drop the target til you come up with the number you want. How many people are on your island ?

Hour for hour my most profitable jobs have come from homes i was told by others not to target.

Mike M
11-12-2007, 05:42 PM
Well, it would be great if they had a "people who have lots of money and want lights really badly and live in a house already paid for."

JoeyD
11-12-2007, 05:47 PM
They are out there!

Mike M
11-14-2007, 07:16 AM
Chris once mentioned specific numbers expected for direct mail responses, my memory is bad, but I think it was something like .003?

What response rates are you guys getting? I have a list of 951 in a tight demographic, and I plan on three mailings. According to .003 I may get 2-3 jobs. Is this about right?

6 years ago I did door hangers for lawn care, 1,100, and got 17 customers. The stats were 1.5%, came out accurate. (I won't use door hangers any more, but that was cool.)

Thanks,

Mike

Pro-Scapes
11-14-2007, 09:02 AM
1.5% for door hangers is excellent. Rememeber to door hang if your allowed after you do an install hit all the houses directly around it and within view.

Another great trick if your working in an exclusive area. Go knock on the nieghbors door and let them know you will be working next door and if the trucks or anything get in their way to call you imediatly... hand them your card and get out of there. dont try to sell them something unless they call.

Our small experience with direct mail...1000 tight radius for year round maint for pro-scapes division is 3 calls with 2 resulting in work. Well worth the investment.

for lighting we sent out 1400... must of been bad time of year... 4 calls.. only got 2 face to face meetings from it and 1 install from it and 1 relamp. Still was worth it.

Mike M
11-14-2007, 01:15 PM
for lighting we sent out 1400... must of been bad time of year... 4 calls.. only got 2 face to face meetings from it and 1 install from it and 1 relamp.

Billy, was that just one round of 1400, or did you go multiple mailings? I am planning on 951 addresses X 3 seperate maillings.

Thanks,

Mike

Pro-Scapes
11-14-2007, 02:01 PM
that was the first of 3 mailings. I am now waiting for Mr. D to come up with a nice post card so I can do the 2nd mailing

bmwsmity
11-16-2007, 08:50 AM
that was the first of 3 mailings. I am now waiting for Mr. D to come up with a nice post card so I can do the 2nd mailing

What was your offer on that postcard though?

Did you give a good incentive to call, like a discount or something?

Was it just a postcard?

One thing I do, because I'm still small and have the time, is send the oversize postcards in greeting card envelopes. When in the envelope, it feels just like a greeting card in there and is an exact fit. Also, the envelope is a nice tan color, not just plain old boring white, and I hand-write the recipient's address.

Though this is time-consuming, it only costs me about $0.51 per mailer including postage, and I did get a $4,000 job off the first mailing to only 15 homes. The key was getting people to look at the offer, and then having a good offer to begin with.

Pretty hard to argue with a 6.67% response rate and 100% close ratio.

Mike M
11-16-2007, 09:02 AM
Pretty hard to argue with a 6.67% response rate and 100% close ratio.

Statistically speaking, your sample was way too small for reliable data.

At fifty-one cents, it only cost you $7.15 for your campaign. If you grossed $4,000 in sales, why not spend $715.00 to generate $400,000? Or $7,150 to get 4 Million?

My hunch is your 15 prospects were hand-picked, and not very random. Or you were really lucky. Or you are very, very effective at direct mail and I will send you a check to please do mine.

Mike

bmwsmity
11-16-2007, 09:08 AM
Pretty hard to argue with a 6.67% response rate and 100% close ratio.

Statistically speaking, your sample was way too small for reliable data.

At fifty-one cents, it only cost you $7.15 for your campaign. If you grossed $4,000 in sales, why not spend $715.00 to generate $400,000? Or $7,150 to get 4 Million?

My hunch is your 15 prospects were hand-picked, and not very random. Or you were really lucky. Or you are very, very effective at direct mail and I will send you a check to please do mine.

Mike

Hahaha! Yes, please do send a check! :)

I know I did skew the perspectives a bit, and luck may be involved a bit as well.

These people were somewhat hand-picked. I sent them to everyone on the same street as one of my customers, and I mentioned that I have a customer on that street.

HOWEVER, I did send them to everyone on the street, not just likely buyers, and I did NOT tell them the address of my customer, so the response was not due to people seeing my work. The ironic thing is, the work I did for the current customer was simply re-wiring a few fixtures.

From a purely statistical standpoint, you are correct, the sample was WAAAAYYY too small to give an accurate picture of true metrics.

However, if someone did their homework and used this same tactic, simply sending mailers to HIGHLY targeted prospects with a good offer, in a personalized manner, I'm willing to bet the response rate would be FAR better than simply using a shotgun approach.

Mike M
11-16-2007, 09:17 AM
I agree with your approach. But it was not a mass mailing, so to speak. It was similar to putting door hangers near a project, or placing a sign in the yard, which people here will definately agree is effective.

The key is to target the right demographic and be less random, even with the mass mailing, which is what makes it "direct" mail. I'd look for more streets with similar demographics, you may be onto something. Did you look into quantummail dot com yet? I'm just getting into it. I love it.

Mike

bmwsmity
11-16-2007, 09:30 AM
True, it wasn't a mass-mailing. But would you rather spend $574 in postage or $7.15 to get the same result? :drinkup:

The funny thing is, I don't really think it was as much demographics as it was the mindset of the people in that subdivision. How do you build a list based on mindset???

The reason I say this is because the same subdivision has a lco who mows 35 yards there. He mows EVERY home on that street that I mailed to.

What does this tell me? 1) The people there like to use small companies owned by young entrepreneurs like me. 2) The people there pay special attention to what their neighbors do, or talk to each other a lot.

This means that I have an especially high likelihood of being successful with a mailing campaign there that specifically points out that I work for their neighbor. And for those that do call, I have a high likelihood of closing the sale because I'm similar to who they already do business with.

I'm just trying to point out to people that you can save a ton of money by just being very observant and by customizing your marketing message for the specific situation.

Also to note, I have used the same message and same offer in another subdivision with the same demographics and home values, and received ZERO response from about 100 mailers sent 5 times. This is probably due to the mindset there. Many of the landscapers that work there are large companies, and from what I've seen many of the people there use many different companies. I assume that many of them don't talk to each other much or care about what their neighbors do.

Mike M
11-16-2007, 12:03 PM
received ZERO response from about 100 mailers sent 5 times

I gotta call the bank and stop payment on your check! lol

You may need to shotgun more neighborhoods until you start getting hits. Quantum has an odd number or even number only feature for street addresses. I decided to trust the law of statistics and do 1,500 addreses, and I'll do them 3 times. But if some areas get no calls and others generate more calls, I'll allocate more addresses to those communities.

Mike M
12-08-2007, 04:18 PM
Okay, I sent out around 1400 postcards. How long should I wait before round 2? A few weeks, a month, or what? I'm planning on a total of 3 runs to the same addresses.

Lite4
12-08-2007, 10:30 PM
I would space them out in 3 month intervals, Spring, summer and fall.

extlights
12-09-2007, 12:44 AM
Are you planning on doing more mailers to another area other than the 1400 you just sent out?

Mike M
12-09-2007, 06:50 AM
I plan to repeat to the same list for three rounds. Chris J and others refer to the marketing research to repeat, I just want some feedback on spacing it out, like Tim says by season?

Chris J
12-09-2007, 10:24 AM
I do it every 45 days, but it all depends on when they will drop. For instance, you probably don't wan't a mailer to hit the homes 2 weeks before Christmas. In my opinion, this is a time when buyers are thinking about other things besides landscape lighting. I'm in the process of ordering 60,000 cards. After Christmas/New Years, I plan on starting a new campaign of 10,000 every 45 days for 3 mailings. I'll then switch up to a different set of zip codes, and do the same thing all over.

extlights
12-09-2007, 12:01 PM
If you're doing a larger quantity then I'd say doing it by season is fine, but if you're only planning on doing 1400 at a time then I'd go 45-60 day intervals to the same addresses.

Pro-Scapes
12-09-2007, 01:49 PM
Since this is our first year using direct mail how soon after the holidays do you guys reccomend sending out cards ? We are planning to mail somewhere around 3000 at a time. I need to find some time to ammend my custom built list and review it.

I been thinking about how nice quantum mail makes managing the lists. I do like different perspectives and thats who I used before. We recently used printlableandmail.com for landscape maint cards and the results were not what we were expecting but then again they were just 2 color cards. Will send out 5k of thoes this spring.

Chris J
12-09-2007, 04:28 PM
Historically, my sales have me mediocre in January/Feb, but I haven't kept a good track record of what I sent out and when. This year, I am going to purposefully try to make Jan/Feb stellar months just too see if it is the market or the timing of the mailings. I wish I would have kept better records of when I sent out my mailings, but I have not. I've always been of the persuasion that if I'm busy, I don't waste the money; when it starts to slow down, I send out a mailing. Not a very educated process [granted], but then again, office management and record keeping has not been one of my strong points. I'm looking for someone to help me out with this, and I hope to get some good advice at the AOLP conference (or here). It doesn't matter to me where the advise comes from, as long as it is sound advice from a reliable source.

Mike M
12-09-2007, 05:44 PM
sound advice from a reliable source

Well that rules me out.

I just sent a round of cards out on Dec 4, I'll take what seems to be the consensus and do a second round to same people after the holidays. Early to mid January I guess.

I'm planning on using down time for demo's.

Pro-Scapes
12-09-2007, 08:09 PM
real curious to see how your cards do this close to christmas. In our experience (not just lighting) there is few upsells before the holidays to non maint clients. Maint clients will generally ask for an additional cleanup and such if they are entertaining.

Keep us posted how your mailing works mike this close to Christmas. I plan to start late feb then do it every 6 weeks until I stop getting replies.

Mike M
12-10-2007, 06:26 AM
Billy, I'm keeping my lighting marketing separate from landscape service. I'll probably do a full-service landscape postcard to new homes and target communities in February. On those I'll include my lighting logo and brief mention.

Pro-Scapes
12-10-2007, 08:57 AM
we dont mix them either. On our landscape ads we do include landscape lighting as a mention of services along with irrigation (i sub this out) mulch, sod, ect.

Lighting post cards metion 1 thing and 1 thing only. GREAT lighting systems.

Mike M
12-10-2007, 04:08 PM
Okay, booked a demo based on my mailer, for Thursday. If I don't get the sale, I'll at least be on a good street in an awesome community. I'll be leaving the set up for a few days. Cool thing about quantummail, I got that whole street up and down covered. Maybe the demo will reinforce the post card??

Mike M
12-10-2007, 04:37 PM
office management and record keeping has not been one of my strong points. I'm looking for someone to help me out with this

Well since nobody else said anything you get stuck with me. I just got back from my first encounter with a CPA today. By "office management," if you are including bookkeeping crap, this is the first time in my life I'm having someone else do my taxes, plus, they will do my bookkeeping. Why not?? They actually charge in 5 minute increments, so if transactions are slow, I'm billed less.

His bookkeeper in the office will tell me how to organize the crap the way she wants it. This will make my multiple business licenses by counties and towns, etc., a lot easier, and force me to be more organized with expenses and materials tracking.

One tip, if you don't already have a CPA: don't mention anything non-legit, it makes them freak out. At least mine acted like the IRS nazi's were gonna come in through the windows and take him and I away because I mentioned the word Mexicans in his office. They are required by law to report anything I say or do if it is illegal. Which is a good thing. Because I report 100% of all income and I don't speak any Spanish.

The cool thing is now I can say I have a financial advisor, and a tax advisor.

Mike M

TXNSLighting
12-10-2007, 05:04 PM
i think i may start doin direct mailers. sounds like the right thing to do.

Mike M
12-10-2007, 05:20 PM
Ryan, check out quantummail.com if you haven't already. Dollar for dollar, direct mail is awesome, and you can control your demographic or streets/neighborhoods.

PatriotLandscape
12-10-2007, 09:47 PM
Well after a hour and a half of reading the fifteen pages I am excited to start setting up my mailer. Anyone here in colder climates have ideas on when the best time to start sending cards out is? I'm thinking maybe mid January and follow them up again using the 45 day setup. it's 32 degrees here and digging is tough should I wait until mid Feb. to start?

irrig8r
12-10-2007, 10:25 PM
I'm not faced with frozen ground, just (we hope) maybe 20 or 30 rainy days between now and April. Are you concerned about getting them signed up on your calendar too far ahead of time? Won't you have more time for design work before your install season actually takes off?

Pro-Scapes
12-10-2007, 11:51 PM
if you do book several months in advance be carful with the deposit money. Get materials up front and then purchase the materials right away because with the fluxuation in materials cost it may come back to bite you.

I have seen too many people book jobs that far in advance only to spend the deposit. Thats bad news. Good financial managment is a must if you book that far out.

irrig8r
12-11-2007, 12:27 AM
And make sure those deposits are booked correctly, depending on whether your accounting method is cash or accrual basis.

Mike M
12-11-2007, 06:19 AM
Well after a hour and a half of reading the fifteen pages I am excited to start setting up my mailer

That's funny. For long winter nights, I recommend reading "more splice stuff."

Post cards now? I did, because I want to get my business rolling, now. I don't get frost.

TXNSLighting
12-11-2007, 11:18 AM
Ryan, check out quantummail.com if you haven't already. Dollar for dollar, direct mail is awesome, and you can control your demographic or streets/neighborhoods.

ill check them out and see what i can find. we have a company in town that does it, but heard their pretty pricey, so we'll see.

PatriotLandscape
12-11-2007, 09:05 PM
I do currently run a decent sized construction business and lighting is up and coming in my area. Dealing with deposits is not and issue and my supplier would honor any price given for an install even if it was a few months later and prices had adjusted. The construction is mostly refferal based along with home shows but I want to get ahead of any competition in my area and think direct mail may be the way to do it.

Pro-Scapes
12-11-2007, 10:16 PM
wow maybe we should all swap to your dist. If I get quoted and the job doesnt book within a reasonable amount of time or I put off purchase it should be subject to the current materials pricing.

I cant think of 1 distributor who would honor prices from months ago. Not with the way copper and metal prices are going. If they are I would wonder if Im getting hosed and they had way to much padding in their price to start with.

When I collect a materials deposit I purchase the materials. Thats just how I do it. If something else works for you thats fine.

Chris J
12-11-2007, 10:32 PM
Billy,
there shouldn't be many situations in which you find yourself in the predicament. On the rare occasion that it does, I'm sure your distributor would work with you if you only ask. For me, I can remember quoting some very large jobs only to find out that there had been a price increase that I was not informed of. After speaking with the branch manager, they found a way to sell the product to me at the original price.
What you have to remember is this: even though prices go up, your supplier still has inventory that he purchased at last year's price. He may try to increase your prices as soon as the new pink sheet comes out, but you should know that he has a whole bunch of inventory that he purchased at lower cost. Don't let them raise the price on product that they haven't had to pay extra for!

CTJ
12-11-2007, 11:02 PM
How does one design their postcard? What should you put on them as a picture and for text. Will quantum do the design for you? I'm looking for customers who have three, five or ten acres they want mowed. Do you just put your company name and the services you provide on the card. I don't want to waste money on a 2 or 3 thousand card mailing.

Chris J
12-11-2007, 11:13 PM
Being that you are in lawn care, I would think your client base is much more diverse than the typical "luxury customer" that we are used to. I don't think that the direct marketing approach would work well for you unless you have a specific "high end" market that you want to focus on. My suggestion to you would be to put together a nice marketing piece (8x10 on plain paper) and mail this out to your target market (within your coverage area). You can get as fancy as you wish, but your goal is simply to get the message out to homeowners that you do this or that at competitive rates.
Sorry I couldn't help you more, but it's really two different businesses with totally different markets.

CTJ
12-11-2007, 11:59 PM
Being that you are in lawn care, I would think your client base is much more diverse than the typical "luxury customer" that we are used to. I don't think that the direct marketing approach would work well for you unless you have a specific "high end" market that you want to focus on. My suggestion to you would be to put together a nice marketing piece (8x10 on plain paper) and mail this out to your target market (within your coverage area). You can get as fancy as you wish, but your goal is simply to get the message out to homeowners that you do this or that at competitive rates.
Sorry I couldn't help you more, but it's really two different businesses with totally different markets.

Actually the people I want to market to are the owners of million to 1 1/2 million dollar homes in my area. The people who have no problem paying $300 to $600 a month for lawn care. The kind of people who don't care about 10% off specials or free estimates.

A local paper will put a glossy insert in for 37 cent each. Their circulation is around 8,000. Their paper is delivered USPS so they will do the inserts by zipcode

Zipskinny is helpful.
http://www.zipskinny.com/index.php?zip=20141

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
12-12-2007, 12:49 AM
wow maybe we should all swap to your dist. If I get quoted and the job doesnt book within a reasonable amount of time or I put off purchase it should be subject to the current materials pricing.

I cant think of 1 distributor who would honor prices from months ago. Not with the way copper and metal prices are going. If they are I would wonder if Im getting hosed and they had way to much padding in their price to start with.

When I collect a materials deposit I purchase the materials. Thats just how I do it. If something else works for you thats fine.

Billy, my distributor is great about this... We call them 'Booking Orders'. I regularly submit early purchase orders for jobs to be installed in the spring in order to secure the same pricing as I had when I contracted the jobs in the fall/winter.

It works out quite well, just requires a willing distributor and some planning.

Have a great day.

PatriotLandscape
12-12-2007, 08:27 AM
wow maybe we should all swap to your dist. If I get quoted and the job doesnt book within a reasonable amount of time or I put off purchase it should be subject to the current materials pricing.

I cant think of 1 distributor who would honor prices from months ago. Not with the way copper and metal prices are going. If they are I would wonder if Im getting hosed and they had way to much padding in their price to start with.

When I collect a materials deposit I purchase the materials. Thats just how I do it. If something else works for you thats fine.

I don't know what your business volume is but we are one of the larger companies and pretty much stick with this supplier for most of our hardscaping needs the also sell lighting. If I went in there today and said I just got a job for a 1200 square driveway I know your price just went up 15 cents a square can you help me out. They without a doubt would adjust there price knowing that I will be back next week to order another large order.

This is the relationship that I have created with this company. When my trucks show up at that yard they are the fastest ones filled. why? Because I pay my bills in full and my checks are always good. That is what gets me the flexability in pricing.

Pro-Scapes
12-12-2007, 08:34 AM
How does one design their postcard? What should you put on them as a picture and for text. Will quantum do the design for you? I'm looking for customers who have three, five or ten acres they want mowed. Do you just put your company name and the services you provide on the card. I don't want to waste money on a 2 or 3 thousand card mailing.


Hand select your list then. If you want it that targeted the best thing to do is drive around the area you want. I dont know anyone who will sort by property size but you can check in with the county tax office.

I created a small list of 1200 or so hand picked homes.

I am adding 1800 more right now.

For just mowing look at printlableandmail.com They will do carrier routes for 365 bucks per 1000 homes. No list needed. If you wanna do full color then dont use them

TXNSLighting
12-12-2007, 10:11 AM
A Lawn care add doesnt need to be as fancy as a lighting ad. alot of mailing sites have default lawn care adds. just choose what you want to say, and done. door hangers are pretty good for lawn care also, id try that.

Lite4
12-12-2007, 09:27 PM
Tommy
I took your advice and signed the contract with RSVP today. 50,000 pieces for .05 per piece. I talked to one of my prospects tonight where I set up a demo and I asked her if she had ever heard of it. She says oh yeah, I look forward to the RSVP mailer coming and then she goes and pulls 7 cards out of her purse from the last mailing that she is responding to. I couldn't beat the price and the demographic makeup of the mailing. Thanks for the advice Tommy. Has it done well for you in your neck of the woods?

extlights
12-12-2007, 10:03 PM
We've used RSVP for about 4-5 years now for spring, summer and fall. You can't really beat the price. The only problem we've seen is that sometimes you get some homeowners that wouldn't normally be in your demographics. It's hit or miss, then again all direct mail is. Sometimes we'll get 7-8 projects out of RSVP, other times we'll get 2-3. We feel that using them is a good compliment to our other mailings that we do. For the price, we will probably continue to use them.

Mike M
12-12-2007, 10:04 PM
Yo Tim & Tommy;

What are you guys talking about, RSVP?

Thanks,

Mike

Lite4
12-12-2007, 10:08 PM
Dave,
Thanks for the feedback. That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy knowing it is working for some of you other guys.

Mike,
RSVP is a direct mailing packet of full color postcard type advertisements that is mailed to the top 50,000 homeowners on a demographic list. They quote it as direct mail to the upscale. Do a google search for it. You shouldn't have any trouble finding it on the web, they are nationwide.

Mike M
12-12-2007, 10:10 PM
Thanks Tim. I will google RSVP. Okay, just googled and had time to edit this post; I got one of their packets recently in the mail, they are cool, and I am probably going into the next one.

extlights
12-12-2007, 10:30 PM
Tim, don't get discouraged if you don't get a ton of phone calls. Don't get me wrong, you will get calls and you will close sales from it. We get a lot of calls every year from people who kept the card from the year before...or even 2 years ago. It's actually kind of hard to figure out the ROI from it just because of that reason alone....but either way it's been worth it for us to send out 150,000/yr with them for the last few years....if we were loosing money with them, then we wouldn't use them.

Lite4
12-13-2007, 12:37 AM
Yeah, I hear ya. I have heard that people hang on to these things even if they don't use em right away. Thats OK, we will be here when they do. Thanks again for the info.

Pro-Scapes
12-13-2007, 08:16 AM
I like the idea of RSVP but they are up in jackson which is over an hour away. I might need to consider it tho If I can do 2-3 consults together.

I really do pride myself on being right there for clients even if its a simple lamp out. With clients that far away I would need to be networked with a local landscaper about bulbs and such.

Chris J
12-13-2007, 08:23 AM
I used to to business with RSVP until I had a falling out with them. Initially, I was offered exclusivity in their deck (no other lighting contractors allowed) but then he allowed a franchise co. to come in because they signed a long contract. I now use City Publications, which is the exact same thing. I get a lot better service from them, and he also gets me a great rate on printing for solo cards.
If I'm not mistaken, RSVP was doing 100,000 cards per mailing in my demo. CP is doing 50k. The cost is a little more, but it is a better list with less "trash addresses".

TXNSLighting
12-13-2007, 10:17 AM
I use a similar thing. its a magazine with just advertisements, caled elegant lifestyle magazine. goes to 85,000 upper scale homes 350k+. income of 98,000/yr and more. whats great is its local. only goes to my surrounding counties. so thats real nice. its first month got 6 calls, closed 3.

bmwsmity
02-14-2009, 12:25 PM
I used Quantummail.com. updates- 8 bids 2 closed jobs, 3900 in work, and round two was ordered today. it'll hit around the 15th of November or so. it'll be crazy by then, but we always seem to need work just right after the thanksgiving rush. added a discount to this card so I'll know the difference between 1st and 2nd card. hopefully it will help push us to the end. I've got really good help this year with construction slow, so I want to keep my guys extra busy right up until Dec. 10th or so. we'll see .

Hey David...looking do to some mailings here soon for spring....was looking for this post to find the name of the company you used (quantummail) and noticed you had no post on your final results from these mailings...how did they turn out altogether?

Thanks for the input!

:drinkup:

LightYourNight
02-16-2009, 03:50 AM
I use www.newpros.com. Good info and the price is right.

Pro-Lawn Landscape
03-16-2009, 12:46 PM
I use www.newpros.com. Good info and the price is right.

John (Light your Night),

Has the info paid off yet, meaning did NewPros improve your customer base/return? I was thinking of getting them as well, the sales consultant was talking about a 5-7% return from recently purchased homes. I was just wondering if this was the case or if her numbers were a little inflated in order to close the deal.

Rauleyfingers

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
03-16-2009, 11:37 PM
Raul, I didn't realize there are any "recently purchased homes"! (Just kidding, but hey, I thought it was worth a laugh, or a least a :) )

Mr. Quik electric
03-17-2009, 02:17 PM
We are getting ready to send out our first volley for our direct mail campaign. We have around 40,000 pieces going out this first round to targeted neighborhoods along with adds in 3 magazines and 3 months of targeted television commercials just for the lighting.
This should be fun to track. Our homeshow is going gangbusters. Lots of great appointments set up. Looking forward to a great season.