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Tony S
01-17-2000, 08:55 AM
This will be my first year offering lawn applications and am considering using Bulk Mail as one of my marketing tools. I am interested in hearing from anyone who has used bulk mail, and any tips or advice you could give on this subject. I am considering a 10,000 piece mail out of professionally made brochures. The mailing list will be comprised of homeowners of targeted zip codes. I am most interested in what I can expect for a response rate, and a new<br>customer rate.<p>Thanks,<br>Tony_S.

nlminc
01-17-2000, 11:59 AM
Tony, I sent out a 10,000 piece mailing last spring and to this day I still get calls from that flyer! Like yours, mine were prof. done. I got approx. 200 calls from that mailing. I picked up 40 lawn accounts and numerous other landscape work. I believe that I sent it out at the wrong time also! When the mailing went out we got an unexpected snow storm which probrobly hindered the responce a bit. I also sent it out in mid march which was a little early in my area I quess. I live on in MA on Cape Cod and most residents here are summer people. This year I'm going to do another possibly later in the month or early in April because I figure people wait until the last minute to call us for service. You better get ready to go out and do the estimates, I wasn't prepared with my labor and was behind because I over booked work. Where do you get your lists from? How much do you get charged per address?<p>Chris

DavidATL
01-17-2000, 12:40 PM
This is a very interesting way to target new prospects! How did you get the brochure produced and was it expensive? Did you use a direct mailhouse to design the brochure or did you do it?

Bill K
01-17-2000, 03:16 PM
Microsoft Publisher 2000 is a terrific tool for developing professional-quality brochures, though content, of course, is up to you. I recently heard from a successful house painter that he started his business by placing flyers on the OUTSIDE of mailboxes in upper-income neighborhoods. Has anyone else tried this?

CGS
01-17-2000, 04:19 PM
I'm with DavidATL, I would like to see some more info.<p>Thanks.

davidzon
01-17-2000, 05:01 PM
Hi folks,<p>I hate to intrude, but this seems like a perfect subject... Perhaps you need to consider purchasing banner impressions on HallOfForums! <p>Contact advertising@globalreaction.com if you are interested.<br>

VWBug61083
01-17-2000, 08:14 PM
Direct-mail is probably the best way to pick up customers fast. I have averaged a 2% response. And with 15,000 of them sent out, I got about 30 customers!

Eric ELM
01-17-2000, 08:35 PM
VW Bug, if you got 2%, you would have gotten 450 customers. Did you end up getting them in a small area, or do you have to do a lot of driving.<p>----------<br>&lt;a href=&quot;http://pages.prodigy.net/eric.erickson/index.html&quot;&gt;Eric@ELM&lt;/a&gt;<br>

Lazer
01-17-2000, 08:38 PM
Eric,<br>Your math is as bad as his. Too many hours on a Dixie Chopper? :)<p>2% of 15,000 is 300.

VWBug61083
01-17-2000, 09:00 PM
Sorry, .02% I got 28 new lawns (so far), which is not bad for the $600 the ad cost me. I payed for itself in a few days. And yeah my math is bad.

jeffclc
01-18-2000, 02:57 AM
VWbug-<br>How did you direct mail to 15,000 addresses for $600? <br>nlminc- What was your cost to send out the 10,000 that you sent? <p>Did you guys send through the post office, or flier the area by hand? <p>Personally, I don't read every piece of mail that I get. Often it gets tossed rather quickly, and I really don't know what they were offering. On the other hand, a flyer in the door, or on the outside of the mailbox would get my attention.<p>What about another delivery alternitive. Maybe the newspaper delivery people would be interested in passing out fliers at the same time they deliver the papers.<p>Around here, the paper delivery people are considered independent contractors, and could probally do it without any slack from the paper company. (That is what they get for making them independents, lower taxes, but then they can't keep them from taking on other work).<p>

Eric ELM
01-18-2000, 04:07 AM
Lazer, I was trying to get him more customers. It was late and I knew 2% of 10,000 was 200. I sure screwed that on up. LOL :)<p>----------<br>&lt;a href=&quot;http://pages.prodigy.net/eric.erickson/index.html&quot;&gt;Eric@ELM&lt;/a&gt;<br>

Lazer
01-18-2000, 04:18 AM
Eric, you just never have to advertise, with all those perfect, triple-cut, beautiful lawns are your advertising. (Even if they were cut with a Dixie Chopper.):)<p>Reagrding &quot;Bulk&quot; Mail 15,000 pieces for $600.00. I think we might be talking about a definition thing here. There also is Direct Mail. I would assume that at $.04 per piece, VWBug didn't mail a 1st class letter & brochure to 15,000 homes. Was is part of a Val-Pak or a Flyer insert?

Tony S
01-18-2000, 05:00 AM
Hi Guys,<br>I see by the posts that there are a lot of you that are unfamiliar with using bulk mail. (A form of direct mail) Like I said in the first post, this will be my first time using it, so I’m not sure of the exact numbers yet, but this is how it works in a nutshell.<p>1) Get your mailing list. Look in the yellow pages under “Mailing Lists” You can buy ANY<br>type of list (homeowners, business owners ect.) in any geographical location in any quant.<p>2)Get Your Permit. Go to the local Post Office and get your Bulk Mail Permit ($100.00<br>for life)<p>3) YOU have to presort the mail by 3 or 5 digit zip and bundle them with elastics, and they must be dropped of at the PO where you got you permit.<p>4) There are other rules regarding the size and shape of the letter or card, so check w/ the P.O. BEFORE you make up your flyers.<p>This may sound like a lot of work, but it will save much $$ than using 1st. class mail.<p>Tony S.<br>

Lazer
01-18-2000, 05:04 AM
Tony,<br>Doesn't bulk mail reduce your per piece cost from $.33 postage down to $.26? And it's still considered first class or not?

Tony S
01-18-2000, 05:54 AM
The price is determined by total weight of the entire load, not by the piece. The price you end up paying to do the mailing will vary widely depending on a lot of factors, such as total weight, whether you have them sorted by 3 or 5 digit zip and other factors. Contact you local Postmaster, he can give you all the details.<p>Tony S.

Tony S
01-18-2000, 08:31 AM
You can go to http://www.mysoftware.com/mailtips/index1.htm for a lot of info on how bulk mail works.

mattingly
01-18-2000, 08:41 AM
I wish it were this easy. The problem you have with bulk or val-paks is you don't target completely effectively certain customers. I've been told &quot;well I got a specific area that I wanted to target and It was all nice houses. Yes and no. For instance, the area I am looking to target is a high end residential area across the road from me. Well even if I bulk mailed it I would still be hitting several of those split house rental properties, townhouse renters, some small cheaper nice houses, businesses that rent their space, etc. So, when you think about it your money isn't being effectively used. If you don't want to go deliver the fliers well... pay someone to do it. Kids would be great at this. Also like some others said, some of the people who have the means to live well don't check unimportant mail. It is just a waste of time to them. They toss the val-pak. They lose the mail that is bulked. Now, now some residents do hate and I mean hate the fliers but I've also been told that some just can't resist the temptation to undo the flier and look at it. That's just the way I see it I could be wrong.<p>----------<br>Integrated Landscape Solutions<br>Lexington, KY

AandB
01-18-2000, 03:54 PM
I did some bulk mailing a few years ago but I thought it was quite a hassle. You now have to buy a permit for $100 and pay another $100 the first time you use the permit. To get the bigger discounts everything must be sorted, bar coded, labeled, etc. However, the biggest problem I had was the delay in getting the pieces mailed since bulk mail has the absolute lowest priority. Some of my pieces took a couple of weeks to be delivered.<p>I think it is just as cheap and a lot easier to mail out postcards. I work up what I want to say on a regular sheet of paper with 4 post cards outlined on it. I have the copy center run a couple of hundred copies of my sample on 110 lb. paper. Then they cut the 110 lb. sheets into 4 postcards. <p>I use Pro CD to get the address I want to use for the mail out and print the address on labels. Then put the label on the post cards along with a 20 cent stamp. Total cost for paper, copies, labels, and postage is about 25 cents each. (This is about my same cost for having flyers delivered)<p>The nice thing is that you don't have to worry about all the rules and regulations for bulk mailing and you can mail out hundreds or only one at a time.<p><p>----------<br>A and B Lawn Services<br>

mattingly
01-18-2000, 04:02 PM
A & B,<br>I was following you up to the point you said Pro CD. What is that and how do you get the addresses you want? Is it easy to get working and sort the addresses you want etc... More info. please<p>----------<br>Integrated Landscape Solutions<br>Lexington, KY

AandB
01-18-2000, 04:31 PM
mattingly...<p>ProCD is just a nationwide telephone book on CDs (also know as Select Phone). I paid less than $100 to get 150,000,000, or so, names, address, phone numbers, sic codes, census info., etc. Any place that sells software should have ProCD or something similar. Every year you can buy updates.<p>I basically pick the addresses I want to work with from the CD and place them in a &quot;workbook&quot; file. Then the address can be sorted and exported to another program in order to print labels. It's really simple and a cheap way to get a mailing list started. <p><p>----------<br>A and B Lawn Services<br>

Erika B
01-18-2000, 06:03 PM
YUK!!! DO NOT USE PRO CD!!<p>Pro CD is based off of old telephone books and they are always at least 18 months behind the times in currency. Not only that - but you have a limit of 5000 addresses to download for your $250 that you have to tag VERY carefully to avoid duplicates such as modems and children and dogs. I have worked with a few other good mailing lists - probably the best so far is Criss+Cross Plus, although Criss+Cross Plus real estate CAN be okay if you're looking to do further targetting, i.e. lawn sizes and what not. Americalist has also done some awesome stuff - although this seems to be better in some areas than others.

AandB
01-18-2000, 06:28 PM
erika b<p>I don't understand what you are saying about downloading 5000 names for $250. I think I paid about $45 for 8 CDs that have millions of names/address/phones numbers. I'm mainly interested in the addresses, not the names or phone numbers, so in my case I don't know or care if the names or numbers are outdated--the address will still be good. <p>Also, I use a program to delete any duplicates so that's not a problem for me either.<p>I'm not sure if ProCD is the best or not since I haven't tried the other programs but it seems work okay for my basic mailing needs. However, I will take a look at the other programs to see what they have to offer.<p><p><p>----------<br>A and B Lawn Services<br>

Tony S
01-18-2000, 06:38 PM
When you purchase a list from a mailing list Co., you can be as specific as you like as to<br>who you want the list narrowed down to. If you want to target homeowners that make<br>$75k+ ONLY, that is no problem. The only thing is, the more specific the list, the less number of names they will have available for any one zip code. This is what your paying them for. They will compile a list to YOUR needs.<p>The only reason I thought of using bulk mail in the first place is because a few big franchises doing lawn apps. in my area are using it. I figured it must work.<br>

Erika B
01-18-2000, 07:17 PM
I whole-heartedly agree that bulk mail - which can be broken down further to targetted mailings or saturation mailings (i.e. Val-pak and other cooperative mailings) - can be profitable. I was only concerned about the person looking into buying Pro CD. I've subscribed to Pro CD for as long as I've been doing green industry work (their latest subscription post card was $249), and I've been very disgusted with the changes they've made that make it more time consuming to find your potential customers - AND you may only take 5000 names LEGALLY per their copyright agreement, yakkety and blah. The only real filtering you can do with this software is whether or not you want to include Commercial vs Residential and whether or not you choose to use only CASS Certified addresses. They also do not note whether the property is for an apartment complex, trailer park, condo village, other &quot;rentals&quot;... you get the picture. (Pro CD's parent company Info USA also does the American Business Info - 88 million households)<p>I was merely suggesting Criss+Cross Plus or Americalist as I've noted that many of the people I've spoken to are choosing to go that route in getting ready for the new season. Americalist especially since they're very good about updating your current marketing lists (if they're digital) for the outdated portions such as residents and phone numbers (List appending can get very expensive) and not re-charging you for the material you used last year that is still good.<p>On another note: Do any of you re-market or re-offer to cancels or rejected estimates? And how do you make your approach to this market if you do?<p>Too bad there's no Real Time chat on this thing, as I think it would be helpful to have full conversations on some of these topics. Anyone using ICQ?

Lazer
01-18-2000, 07:32 PM
erika,<p>Regarding former customers, we repeatedly mail out to them. We do it for the next 2 year after we lost them and then every other year for the next few years.<p>I was surprised at all the customers we got back. People switch for the craziest reasons. Most is was a price issue and they weren't saisfied the the cheaper guy, so they come back.<p>It's important to leave in a postitive way regardless of why you're not renewing that client.<p>Another reason to leave on a positive note: <br>I have serviced many clients over the years, many of whom I no longer do. (Price usually, I hope) I recently moved into a neighborhood in which I used to service half the houses in here. My kids are school-friends with a dozen or more former clients kids. I now run into them in a social setting and it might be a little uncomfortable if I'd been less than professional. <br>

mattingly
01-18-2000, 07:40 PM
I have just thought of something recently. In our local paper, they have a homeseller section for real estate. In the back they have a property transfer list. This could be very helpful in directly targeting certain properties and it can be done all season long. First of all you have the opportunity to get your foot in the door first. Second people are moving in all seasons. Keep an eye on this and send out postcards, brochures etc. and you can pick up business all year long by getting there first. Many people when they are moving in don't want to fool with yard work so they will want your/anyone's services.<br>Just a thought<p>----------<br>Integrated Landscape Solutions<br>Lexington, KY

Lazer
01-18-2000, 07:49 PM
mattingly,<br>There must be some list for this, because when I moved, I recieved all kinds of solicitations from many type of business, including lawn care. <br>Yes, I took advantage of the free estimate lawn care offers and keep them in my file with the rest of them.

Erika B
01-22-2000, 09:27 AM
subscribing to these newspapers that give the information is probably a good idea if you have idle time that you are able to go through and sift out the vacant lands for farming, commercial, and apartment dwellings, etcetera. I think (note I said THINK) that local chambers of commerce might have inexpensive lists.<p>I just had another idea. I have had several friends buy new homes recently that included landscaping and turf - and their homebuilder gave them gifts when they closed and took possession. Usually they were tool kits and things that would be helpful with new houses. You might try and contact a homebuilder and ask about having a coupon (with a significant discount for new customers in their first season of course) put in with their gift? Just a thought.<p>----------<br>Insanity takes its toll, Please have exact change.<br>

jeffclc
01-31-2000, 03:14 PM
I just got off the phone with the local free paper. I ws talking with them on other business, ans since I had them on the phone, I thought that I would ask a few Questions. <p>This paper is delivered free of charge to area residents. They will do an insert flier targeted by zip code. They do have a 1000 minium per insertion. The cost if you supply the flier, 8.5x11 is #37/1000. You have no control over which areas in the particular zip code get the flier unless you insert it in the entire zip code. <p>They will print them for you at additional charge, and are not competitive with the printing shops. <p>I didn't think that the prices for delivery were that bad. $37/1000. I could make more than $37 in an hours mowing, but don't think that I could deliver 1000 fliers in an hour. <p>Just for fun I figured the cost for fliers, using a printing cost of $25/1000, plus the $37/1000 for delivery, and came up with the following numbers: $62/1000. That does not seem all that bad to me, and it is sort of area specific.<p>Hope this helps<br>

lawrence stone
01-31-2000, 04:46 PM
Jeff,<p>What kind of customers read free papers?<br>Ones that can't afford to buy a real newspaper. The price ($37) is no big deal<br>but are you sure this is the type of customer<br>you want to attract?<p>Hint: venture out into the high end res. area<br>and see what paper most of the folks are reading by looking at the little plastic paper holders on the mailboxes. Spend some of your ad<br>budget with that paper. Most papers do inserts by zip code. Contact another non-competitive home based business to split the costs (you get one side of the insert).<p>Have the inserts inserted on a friday around<br>St. Pattys day. Hang around the phone for<br>that weekend. Also place a small classifed<br>ad in the same paper for a month starting<br>the same day your inserts hit the street.<p>P.S. Make sure you have a e-mail addy and<br>a web addy on the inserts.<p>Go to TownServer.com and you can make a FREE<br>business web site.<p>

lawrence stone
01-31-2000, 05:16 PM
Dear Admin,<p>What gives you the right to modify my posts?<p>The website I refered to is not the same<br>one I wrote.<p>Please explain your actions.

Administrator
01-31-2000, 05:22 PM
Your link was a conflict of interest.<p>We offer free business hosting at http://www.townserver.com<p>

Nilsson Associates
01-31-2000, 05:26 PM
I've been using direct mail methods for over ten years ... this is what I've discovered:<p>1. Bulk mail is cheap, but not as effective as using a first class stamp. First class gets 20% more attention, initially.<p>2. It takes 7 consecutive mailings to the same address, for the addressee to remember what they received.<p>3. A hand written address while extremely time consuming .. can be the way to go with a limited mailing list. You're better off mailing to let's say 200 or 300 top quality, high income properties (each month) going first class, than you are making a bulk mailing to 5,000 with a cheap &quot;piece&quot;. It's not quantity .. it's quality.<p>4. Telemarketing is much more effective than any direct mail piece. You can get the demographics from www.experian.com for residences with incomes of $70,000 or more, to use in your campaign. <p>5. Expect a 2.5% response rate (if) your piece is on target. <p>6. A hand written envelope from an unknown sender is opened about 99% of the time, whereas a cheap bulk mailed piece is discarded generally 95% of the time (unread).<p>7. Using the color &quot;red&quot; on the outside of a mailing piece gets about 50% more attention than using any other color.<p>8. Time the mailings so they are received by the recipient only from Tuesdays through Thursdays. That's possible when you go first class, but not generally with bulk mail.<p>9. In order of importance:<br> a. The address &quot;area&quot; is seen first<br> b. The &quot;sender's area&quot; is seen second<br> c. The &quot;postage area&quot; is seen third<br> d. But the color &quot;red&quot; is seen first<br> if you have a compelling message.<p>Everybody has their &quot;methods&quot; but generally I think you're better off when using direct mail to mail to a smaller audience, and use a first class mailing piece, going first class postage stamp, high quality envelope, a single piece of paper inside(letterhead) with one or two photos printed on it, hand signed letter, very brief intro to your company. In other words ... make it &quot;personal&quot;. <p>Response rates go up dramatically, when you personalize the mailings. Think &quot;quality mailings&quot; ... not &quot;quantity mailings&quot;.<p>Nilsson Associates, Consultants<p>

jeffclc
01-31-2000, 05:40 PM
L.S.- I was simply passing along some info that I had picked up. Actually, everyone reads this paper. It has much local info and lots of local high school sports info( HS sports are HUGE around here). A paper is delivered to every household, so there is no real specific targeting, only by zip code.<p>I was simply refering to it as a low cost way to do a large quantity to a relativitly specific area. I personally have done only very limited advertising over the years.

MRPLOW
01-31-2000, 05:57 PM
Jeffci that is about the same price I got for paper around me. It's a wednesday paper for a couple of cities that costs $1.00. Insert prices were 1000 for $35.00, you supply the flyers. I have used this for aeration services in springtime and got about 2% return.

lawrence stone
01-31-2000, 06:05 PM
Phil,<p>Can you give the group some insight in regards to small selective mailing (first class) to high end residenitals between going with postcards vs. personalized letters & envelopes?<p>I have done both (using a database of property transfers from the previous calendar<br>year) and find little difference in response<br>(5-7%) on the inital mailing to justify the added labor and expense.<p>With postcards I just use formal black and white and use my own design (MS PUB)with<br>a black and white printed label.<p>The red color is right on. I have a red<br>stamp that says &quot;first class mail&quot; that I<br>use to give the cards some color.<p>

lawrence stone
01-31-2000, 06:13 PM
Jeff,<p>If HS football is so big in the west how come<br>Berwick (part of my commercial service area)always beats the team from the WPIAA<br>in the state championship game? :)