post cards & direct mail

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Mike M, May 4, 2013.

  1. Mike M

    Mike M LawnSite Bronze Member
    from usa
    Messages: 1,988

    Any recommendations for mac-friendly postcard & direct-mail services?

    I tried to see if was mac-friendly, yet. They have a feature where you can select specific neighborhoods and streets from a map for direct mail. I used them a couple times about 4 years ago before I switched to mac, but they were not compatible. There is no mention of system requirements on their page.

    I also see that UPS offers direct mail services?

    RSVP has worked for me, but I missed their last deadline.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions,

    Mike :)
  2. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    not sure about the mac thing. we do postcards a little different.

    I have been doing about 1500-2500 cards a week since March 1. we use a local graphic design company to design the cards, and then use to print. I do the everyday direct mail ( EDDM ) from the post office, and just saturate the residential walking routes that have very high home value. Strangely, you have to do larger postcards to get the lower EDDM rates, so if you go this route make sure your piece is large enough to be EDDM qualified.

    we spend about 6-8 cents each on 8 1/2 x11 full color both sides postcards printed and shipped to me, and postage is 16 cents per card on EDDM. Graphic design runs me about 2-400 per postcard design, but then I reuse designs from the past as well. I try to add a few new designs every year, but this year I went a little crazy on graphic stuff. I track every sale that comes in , and postcard sales for the spring are currently running about 12x of spending on printing and postage, and graphic design. I shoot for 10x. postcards have brought us 1/2 of our sales this spring, and all the other marketing plus referrals have brought the other 1/2. So very much worth the time and expense.

    I am not so sure the response/sales curve is linear however. spending more on postcards may not yield the same return. we have sent 5-6000 per week before and gotten similar sales dollars. mailing too often or to lower value properties does not yield much.

    I also have tried mailing lists by income and not home dollar value /location, and thus spending 2x the amount on postage. you get the same response for the same cost, and you get bids for folks that lied about their income on some magazine survey. But you do catch some folks who live on estates out of town, so it works to do it every once in a while.

    I often see web sites that "do it all" and I find they are usually not so good at graphic design, and they charge quite a bit more than the prices I pay above. I have seen anywhere from 35 cents a card to a buck a card. but then, it is easier and less time for you.
  3. Mike M

    Mike M LawnSite Bronze Member
    from usa
    Messages: 1,988

    Thanks for sharing this great info, David. I will check out the every day direct mail service from the PO. I like to select actual streets, as my demographic is easy to identify by communities.

    Mike :)
  4. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    I know this has been hashed out here in the past (to death) but I have to ask you: What do you do at home with unsolicited ads, door hangers, and 'junk mail'? I know what I do with it...
  5. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    I would agree with this to a point, however companies wouldn't still be doing it, if it didn't work to some degree. I do know that I will still finger through some of the more interesting looking adds I get, and if it is a service I need, and it offers a special price, I will often respond to it.

    There is no doubt that a large section of our target demographic will be unreachable through this mode of advertisement, however a good fisherman keeps many types of lures and bait in his tackle box.

    Happy fishing!
  6. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Messages: 1,865

    Direct mail response is measured in 1/10ths of a percent. We do a tremendous amount of direct mail for our lawn maintenance and irrigation company (about 120k post cards a season) and average between 1 - 3 per thousand in response. The best we've done has been 5 per thousand. I've learned over many years of doing it that it's more about timing than anything, if you're in front of someone with a message about something they happen to be looking for right then, you'll get a response. If not, you'll get ignored. With lawn maintenance, the timing of mailings is a lot easier than with lighting but the profit on lighting is a lot better so you don't need nearly as good of a response and you can target lighting mailings a lot better. We've mailed about 10k postcards for lighting jobs over the last few years and gotten about 5 jobs off of them but the 5 jobs amounted to profit of 5x the mailing cost so it was worth it.

    BTW, EDDM stands for Every Door Direct Mail. It's great if you want to saturate an area and can live with the restrictions of the program but it doesn't allow nearly the flexibility of doing regular Standard Mail. I looked into it as an alternative for the way we're doing things and found it to be both too restrictive and more expensive than the way we do things now so I decided to stick with the current method. One of the biggest issues you're going to find with EDDM is that you're not really going to have much control over how quickly things get delivered since it has to be manually sorted by the carrier. We used to drop our Standard Mail off at the destination post office because we got an additional discount for doing so but since the carrier had to manually sort those mailings into their route, we found that it would sometimes take up to 6 weeks to get full delivery of a mailing. Standard Mail and EDDM offer no delivery time guarantees so if you get a lazy carrier, you're going to have to deal with that. When things changed a few years back and we started dropping our mailings off at the Sorting Facility with Automation bar codes, we saw 100% delivery time of our mailings drop to 3 days.

    There's a lot involved in getting a mailing setup for Standard Mail though, it took me a year to get to the point that I could do one and not have any "errors" in it. It saves a lot of money to do it yourself but it takes me about 4 days to prepare a 20k piece mailing, get it verified and take it to the Sorting Facility. Sometimes I've got nothing better to do and don't mind, other times I have paying work to do that I have to be on myself and end up doing most of the work in the evening or on the weekend, so I'd suggest talking to a mailing service before deciding to do it on your own. It might be worth paying someone else to have your time free. I don't mind doing it myself but I've got it down now.

    One last though, my experience is that repetition improves direct mail response. The first mailing will do OK, the 2nd mailing will go down a little but the 3rd mailing often gives 2x the response of the first. I don't know why that is, it's just what I've experienced. I'll usually space those mailings about 3 - 4 weeks apart.
    Last edited: May 5, 2013
  7. Adeas Printing

    Adeas Printing Sponsor
    Messages: 606

    check out A'Deas Printing. We can help you with your direct mail.
    We have a special for 2,500 post cards for $750, this includes color front black back, the addressing, mailing and saturation rate postage also includes some free design help as well, the only thing it does not include is the mailing list, which we can help you get as well, now if you are wanting to do a non saturated mailing it would be $.10 more per piece and we can help you get a list for that type as well. We can do just a basic search or we can do income, home value, gender, age, etc.. you can search by zip code, city, state, etc...
    If you would like more information or have any questions just let us know, we'd be happy to help you with your direct mail campaign. Give us a call at 1-866-778-4254 or shoot an email to Jamie at
  8. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    James, You never fail to pooh-pooh direct mail, and when my company has all the work it needs, like yourself, I may agree with you. But in my area, I send out cards, the phone rings, and I have work. I do still see work from other sources: referrals, truck, website, yellow pages. when folks get the card, most do throw it out. But people that have been thinking of doing lighting call me. and think of it this way- every job I get, that is one less person that gets crummy lighting from a landscaper or electrician.

    And the numbers don't lie. I have been tracking it religiously, and it is worth the investment at least 10 fold at the level I mail at.
  9. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    I stand by my strategy of constantly focusing on and striving to satisfy the top 5% of the market. In my experience that top 5% does not respond to direct mail marketing campaigns. For the most part, they don't even see what arrives in the mail or on their doorstep. Furthermore, if you are committed to being the best in the business in your particular market, you will want to keep an eye on how that market perceives your operations. If you prefer to go after the middle of the market (and there is nothing wrong with that) then you have quite a bit more leeway in terms of the types of marketing campaigns that will be accepted / tolerated. It comes down to optics; you don't see your local Bentley or Rolls Royce Dealer putting door hangers onto people's property, or sending out 'junk mail'. Ultimately I suppose there is no right or wrong, and I accept that direct mail must work for some. All I know is that I, along with a good portion of the rest of the population, view 'junk mail' as wasteful and ineffective at gaining my attention as a consumer.

    Vive la différence !
  10. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    James, you make good points. And I repeat, I would like to be in the place where you are, the top 5% beat a path to my door with your reputation, a few articles in the paper and a visit to a networking meeting here and there. my reputation and other marketing methods do bring me more than half my sales. But If I believe and listen to you and do not do direct mail, then I throw away a ton of sales this spring, last spring, and so on.

    But James, you say "in your experience" that your top 5% don't respond to direct mail, so at least be honest with yourself. how much experience do you actually have in doing direct mail to your market? when was the last time you sent a very well designed full size, full color mailer to your target market? 2 years ago? 5 years ago? more? have you ever even done a multi card campaign over a period of 6 months? you probably think you don't need to, and if you are busy, you would be right, but another way to think about it- If a new company came out to your area, and did a well thought out direct mail campaign, how many customers yearly would they pick off from you? 1? 5? 10? more? again, being honest with yourself?

    But you may also miss that you are wrong about a few other things James. you may not realize that the top 5% don't drive Bentleys and Rolls Royce. combined they sold less than 10,000 cars in america in 2012. only the top 1% of 1% buy those cars. And the multiple postcard bids I have closed on the 1-5 million dollar homes this spring have Toyota's, Cadillacs, and BMW's in the garage and drive way. $30,000-$60,000 cars. but I did see 1 porche. but his other car was a jeep. while these folks may make 500k to multiple millions per year, so they could buy a Bentley or Rolls, but they don't. They buy a very nice new mode of transportation, and they also want a very nice landscape lighting system. And they chose me initially because they saw the postcard.

    The numbers play like this- we have about 500,000 population in my 2 county area. the top 5% would be 25000 folks. but I only mail to the highest home value properties, where you have to have some degree of income and or wealth to live there. it plays out to about a list of 10,000 or the top 2% of home value properties.

    And finally James, among the hundreds, I have done 2 very, very nice homes that have a butler and 3 homes that had a personal assistant who opened the mail for them. 2 of the 5 were gotten by postcard. 1 saw my truck graphics at the grocery store. 1 was web search, and 1 was a reputation/referral.

    I do believe in your area you can do exactly what you have done and be successful without direct mail. However, I am not so sure you can repeat that success using the same method elsewhere. I believe that to be successful in other areas my method does work, and if you stay at it long enough, no will no longer need to do direct mail. The machine will run.

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