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direct mail

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by dmk395, Oct 16, 2002.

  1. dmk395

    dmk395 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Ma
    Messages: 1,006

    Our season usually runs from April 1- December 1, and I was thinking of starting a direct mail campaign during my time off. Has anyone had luck with this before? My streets will be targeted as I am expecting this to be more than pure canvasing...nonetheless how much success should I have with say 500 pieces. 5%...or 50 calls, and 25 jobs>>>>higher? lower? Job closure rate?
  2. nu83

    nu83 LawnSite Member
    from omaha
    Messages: 238

    It is possible that you could get a 5 % close rate on 500 flyers, but if you do a search on other members direct marketing results you will see that that would be extreamly high. Of course there are so many variables that will determine your percentage; mainly what you send out as direct mail. I expect slightly under 1% close rate. So if I sent out 500 I would expect between 3-5 new accounts, but I would not be surprised id I got 0. The keys I have found are to send a quality presentation of your company with a decent incentive (10% off) and you need to send a high number out, at least 1000, if you dont get a responce then you need to change your mailer.
  3. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    Certainly nu85's suggestions/comments are right on target. We've had direct mail pieces that have yielded no return and others that have yielded the predictable return.

    The best mailing campaign I ever did was about 6 years ago when I sent out a questionnaire. It was sort of anonymous. It didn't list my company name prominently. I didn't use letter head.

    I asked people to fill out the survey which asked about how people bought landscape services and their relative buying habits. I asked how they found a landscaper, if certification/license/workers' comp were important to have, how many landscapers they'd used in the past 5 years, etc. I then asked if they were satisfied with their current service provider. I then asked if they would like someone to contact them about... maintenance, installation, etc. with a detailed list of services.

    Their incentive was that for every survey returned I would give a donation to the American Cancer Society. Many people just wrote back with a response to the survey - didn't want information, but was thankful because the donation would be made on their behalf. Several people wrote notes saying what a great idea and how happy they were to do it.

    I think I mailed out about 2500 surveys. I received about 180 back, or about 7%. Of those 180, about 100 wanted additional information. I couldn't keep up with 100 warm sales leads at the time. I sent letters telling people that I just couldn't get back to everyone and thanked them for their interest. I had to turn business down. To this date, I'd estimate that I received over 100 times in sales what it cost me to produce and mail the survey since I still have some of the customers today. Best money ever spent.

    I offer it for what it's worth.
  4. Equipguy

    Equipguy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 370

    We have used direct mail with good results. We average 2-3% response over the past several years. After making sure this is the type of area we want to work in, we send 4 mailings during the course of the year. We found this to be a very effective approach. Also, people hold on the the info and frequently call later or if there current LCO isn't working out. It's really a numbers game and 500 seems like a good start but stay with it for best results. Good Luck!
  5. dmk395

    dmk395 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Ma
    Messages: 1,006

    lawnlad....how many jobs did u actually close?
  6. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    At the time I wasn't tracking closing rate like I am today. From the 100 or so leads, I was only able to schedule actual appointments with 40 or so, maybe more. Of those, many wanted little projects - trimming the bushes, a one time mulch job, etc. So many of them yielded work. Some of them yielded installation jobs - patios, plantings, etc. Some of those installation jobs turned into continuing maintenance customers after the installation. Some fo the originals turned into maintenance customers.

    If I had to guess - and it's only a guess, I'd say about 20 plus jobs came from the 40 that I contacted. So a 1% total close on mailing. However, I left 60 leads or so out there without completely following up to the point of being able to close it out as a yes or no.

    Sorry I don't have better info for you - going off of memory. And we all know how good memories can be.
  7. heygrassman

    heygrassman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 509

    Direct mail becomes more cost effective if you can get bulk rates, especially on post card types of mailers. You can do a real nice 8x11 or 9x13 (which really sticks out in the mailbox) at a bulk rate that is under $.35 in home(assuming $.21 postage). The problem is that 500 is probably not going to be enough to get bulk mailing rates. I have used DM in other service industries and it has a decent cost per sale when using bulk rates.

    LawnLad.. on your survey.. how did you handle the response? Was it a post card or 8.5 x 11 with envelope? Did you include the return postage?? This could work very well with an online survey if you can get folks to get online to fill it out. Key with survey's, is that there needs to be some consideration for the time. Even if it is a buck, the response rates jump when consideration is given.. thanks for the suggestion..

    Sorry if I got us off topic...

  8. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    My recollection is that I used postage paid envelopes - which was about $.77 at the time I think per envelope returned. Rates have most likely gone up a nickle or so per.
  9. walker-talker

    walker-talker LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 4,771

    Lawn Lad,

    How much did you donate to the American Cancer Society per response? This sounds like a really good idea, but seems pretty costly, but I guess if the return is there, then everything went well.

  10. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    I believe I gave a $3.00 donation for every response I got. I think if I were to do it next time I'd be a little more vague and say something like "And for consideration of your time in filling out and returning this survey, a donation will be made on your behalf to the American Cancer Society."

    Or I would cap the amount and say that I will give $3.00 for every survey received up to $300.00. If you get more than 100 survey's - great. If you get fewer than, you'd be obligated to donate $3.00 * X received.

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