Can Direct Mail Grow a Lawn & Landscape Business?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Sean Adams, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. Sean Adams

    Sean Adams LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,597


    But.... Yes, there is a "but"...

    Only if it is done the right way.

    I recognize the desire for getting your message in front of as many prospects as possible. Reasoning would tell you that the more prospects you are put in front of, the better chance you have of gaining a greater number of new clients.

    However, in the case of direct mail, quality over quantity will always prove to be more successful.

    A successful direct mail campaign for a lawn and landscape business is one that is targeted, presented the right way, with a powerful message.


    Don't just pick a zip code and start wasting your postage. Determine the areas you want to work in, right down to the exact streets you want to build a client list. Find out the names and addresses of the people who live on that street. Know what services you provide and match them to areas and neighborhoods that want, need and already pay for your services. If you are providing simple mow, blow and go services, you probably don't want to mail to high-end homes. If you are installing upscale water features and back yard living areas, you probably don't want to target low or middle income neighborhoods.


    Nowadays, when you go to the mail box it is stuffed full of bills, credit card offers, and plenty of junk mail. If you package your direct mail piece to look anything like junk mail, you are wasting your money. This is about getting results. In order to get results, the first hurdle you need to get over is people tossing your letter in the trash. To accomplish this task, you should hand-address each envelope and place a first class stamp on it. Is this time consuming? Yes. Is it a little more costly? Yes. Does it work? Absolutely. Would you throw away a letter that was hand-addressed to you with a stamp on it? Probably not. Curiosity will make you open the letter to see if it is something personal.

    Getting people to open the letter is step 1. The way the letter appears in their hand when they open it is just as important. If you place a boring, typical sales-pitch letter on your company letterhead, people will quickly recognize what's going on and toss it in the garbage. Think different. Use a format that is going to jump out at them and get their attention. Use a headline that will almost force them to read on. Keep it professional, but don't be afraid to get a little daring. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.


    If you are going to introduce yourself and your company, talk about how long you have been in business and how you provide the following grocery list of services, don't waste the paper. People see this stuff all the time, they aren't impressed and frankly, they only care about what's in it for them. Get to the point. Make an impact. Show them you are different and it is in their best interest to call you instead of someone else. What makes you different? Whatever that is, run with it and get their attention and get the phone ringing.
  2. GMLC

    GMLC LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,345

    Direct mail introduction letters have given me the best return by far. But its only one piece of my overall marketing plan
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. newguy123

    newguy123 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,096

    Just Mowing would say quality is much less important than least with door hangers. His business has definitely grown.

  4. GMLC

    GMLC LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,345

    Timing is also very very important. Your target market will help determine the quality of the presentation. If your looking for $20 lawns like just mowing quality is not going to be as important unless another door hanger with the same price is nicer. Just mowing is banking on his price being the cheapest out there. Quality is of no concern to him.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,725

    10 years ago or half a score ago we purchased a package of letters from you Sean. Now it was are first season and with out the direct mail it likely would of been our only season. We were going into May with 1 account we left that month with over 35 and finished the season with 65.

    You had written and introduction letter and we modified a bit to fit us and got our selves very pricy paper and envelopes the kind AMX sends to invite you to join. We had a printer make them all have colored grass letter head then we bought some business cards and sent one with each letter. All together it cost us close to 1 dollar a letter and we sent out 3000 of them. We didn't know a lot about targeting at the time so we got hits all over the place it was the first and last time we bought a mailing list. Still some waves of letters got us a 7% response rate and thats unheard of in direct mail.

    Now the clientele was lacking we still laugh at how bad some of those first customers were. A few actually had tears of joy over the bs Sean wrote I think 2 of them had the letters framed and hung in their living rooms. The next year we did even more and we did some major rewrites of the letter and the response was less but the quality of the accounts was significantly better. I think it was cool just having a format to use to know where everything should go on a letter.

    After that we moved on to post cards and initially had good numbers but that declined year by year. I think an online presents is far more important now than it was 10 years ago. Now we don't even bother with direct mail the cost is just to high for the rate of return we found giving existing customers rewards for recommending is a much better return for us.
  6. cpllawncare

    cpllawncare LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,659

    Kelly, I agree the marketing landscape has changed dramatically over the last 10 years for sure. My first season 2008, I walked around and passed out some homemade flyers didn't have a clue what I was doing, but ended up with about a dozen clients I was thrilled at the outcome, that was out of 500 flyers, like you they were less than desirable client's but none the less I had some cash flow going, The next season I did the same thing with some flashier flyers again about 500, I ended the season with about 2-3 more clients, not so thrilled then, the third season I got on the web and tried service majic and CL! total disaster! nothing, last year a buddy of mine told me to get on AL, so I did, WOW! 45 new clients by mid season, not just clients but good clients that were actually willing to pay a decent pay and we did a ton of upselling to boot, we gave the very best service and quality we possibly could, we racked up on good reviews and the phone hasn't stopped since, I looked in to a direct mail campaign this year but just couldn't justify the cost, being that we were having such success with what we were doing. I guess my whole point is, the web and in particular mobile web is the way to go now, it's really where everybody is now that smart phones are main stream.
  7. nozzy

    nozzy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    cpllawncare, what is "AL"?
  8. chaseh03

    chaseh03 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    I'm assuming Angie's List
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,563

    where do you guys get mailing lists?

    I'm aware of eddm
  10. cslawnandlandscape

    cslawnandlandscape LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Messages: 53

    See if the town your in has either GIS or tax assessor database. It won't give you an actual list but you get as much info on the property that is available and you can pinpoint to specific streets that your looking at.

    I use town GIS mapping or Tax Assessors database as one avenue for bringing in new clients in the beginning of the season. I can get an idea of the property layout etc, owners name, and I then make up an actual letter and also handwrite the envelope. Yes it takes a bit more time, but last year I targeted 2 specific areas where I already have clients and mailed out to almost 100 homes. 5 are now clients and another bunch ended up being mulch or small projects. That avenue more than paid for itself easily and I don't run all over town in between clients. This year I'm tightening the areas even more to try and hone in on specific blocks.

    I even sent mine out early last year (February) and a couple buddies of mine said I was wasting my time. Those that called me back in April said they were surprised to see a letter from a landscaper early before the season and held onto it.

    I've done the door hangers and mass mailing (both disasters) I wasted more time, energy & money distributing the hangers while the mass mailing was a stupid move. I'm on AL (never a bite), does well for me, CL is extremely hit or miss, while the absolute best will always be word of mouth.

    You won't hit the jackpot with direct mailing but if your looking to get a specific area, you can't really get more precise than that. Also do not use a flyer it will get tossed, write out a simple letter, quick intro (1 or 2 sentences) and right to the point.

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