Let's Revisit Direct Mail

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by David Gretzmier, Sep 18, 2007.

  1. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    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 !!!
     
  2. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    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.
     
  3. Firefly Lighting

    Firefly Lighting LawnSite Member
    Posts: 98

    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,
     
  4. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    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.
     
  5. extlights

    extlights LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 439

    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.
     
  6. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    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...
     
  7. Chilehead

    Chilehead LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Stockbridge, GA
    Posts: 1,927

    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.
     
  8. pete scalia

    pete scalia LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 960

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

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,837

    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.
     
  10. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,837

    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.
     

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