when to send a mailer

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Mike M, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. Mike M

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

    First, hello Chris J, great to see you back here :)

    I have a marketing question for installers. I moved back from AK last summer and tried a postcard mailing in August, but the response was pretty slow.

    Low on venture capital, but putting some aside for postcards again, waiting for the best timing, and to send only to new home purchases in very selective neighborhoods. And still, a tight mailing at first just to see if I can get some prospects. If not, I will continue to do landscape services (which is busy!) and try holiday lighting this year (anyone with recommendations on that would be much appreciated, too).


    Mike M
  2. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    Hey Mike, great to see you on again. For what its worth, I rarely, if ever try to target new homes for lighting. By the time they get done with the overages on building the home and landscaping, there is rarely enough budget left. This is not always the case, but the rare exception seems to prove the rule. Most of my jobs come from established homes (folks that have been in a while and are looking for an upgrade to the look). It looks like you are doing landscaping also, so that can change the variability a bit also.

    When I was doing Christmas lighting, I would start marketing in Sept/Oct so that I could get the jobs sold and lights installed before it got too late in the season.

    Consider EDDM (Every door direct marketing) if you have a tight cluster of good homes to reach on a mailing route. This is a pretty cost effective way to get your message out.
  3. Mike M

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

    Thanks, Tim!

    I will look into the mail route idea, thanks for the tip.

    Regarding new home purchases, we have a trend of wealthy people buying expensive waterfront community homes that need renovations. I was told these were the people buying lighting in this region/market. No idea how true/how much. I was also told last winter was good for lighting.

    I would like to get into holiday lighting this year, I always wanted to try that. I like the idea of advertising it in September. I'm thinking of doing this with community hoa publications, since I can advertise landscaping services and holiday lighting together (a lot of people use landscaping services year-round here).
  4. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,843

    Hi Mike!!! Great to hear from you and thanks for the welcome. I haven't done any advertising in the past several years outside of internet traffic and word of mouth so I'm a little rusty on the subject these days. What Tim is referring to is a great way to save on postage but you may get some waste by sending ads to homes that might not necessarily be your target market. We call it carrier route, and basically it means that everyone on a particular mail route will get it instead of specific homes on that route.
    In terms of timing, that has always been somewhat of a mystery but I always tend not to send any direct mail near the end of May thru early August. I simply believe that when schools are out for the summer, people have much more on their mind and are taking vacations etc.. I also never advertised immediately after the Christmas season. For my market at least, I have found that the best time to advertise is Sept. thru late November....... even though I do not install Christmas lights, the fall/early winter season is usually when I get hammered with new business.
    When it comes to direct mail, doing it with limited funds can be tricky. Ideally, you want to send to the same people at least 3 times. Repetition is key, but it can be hard to convince yourself to keep throwing money at the same homes instead of trying to blanket a larger demographic and stretch your advertising dollars over more areas/neighborhoods. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars (probably more into the hundreds) on direct mail, but if I had to pick my most favorite method, I would have to say that I prefer to select specific parameters and purchase customized lists that include only homes with a specific income or home value. You can do both if you wish also..... and advertise to, for instance, only homes valued at 350k or higher with a household income of 150k or higher. Those are just examples, but you get the point.

    Good Luck!!!
  5. Elegant Outdoor Lighting

    Elegant Outdoor Lighting LawnSite Member
    Messages: 60

    Hey Mike,

    I like to do a large mailer. 8x10 full color both sides. I get them at gotprint.com and then use usps eddm. I work with a designer in the phillipines ($8/hr) thru odesk.com and send out 5000 at a time. I track them and get the most response after I have sent to the same addresses about 3-4 times. At 5000, I spend 28 cents/piece including design, printing and postage.

    Just make sure to look at the maps carefully and that there are no apartments on the carrier route! (cross reference the usps map with google satellite map)
  6. Mike M

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

    Great info, thanks guys!

    I am also going to look at doing a website again, and with ads. Wondering about facebook and google. Worried about funds though. I'll figure something out.

  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876


    I recently did two mailings. 3000 each mailing. All to high end homes (over $600,000) with incomes over $210,000 per year. Really our target audience for lighting. These were really nice full color 4-page folding mailers.

    One mailer was sent out in March. The other was sent 1st of July.

    Honestly, I consider both of them to be a waste of my money. I had given up fliers and mailers years ago because the ROI was just sucky. But decided to give it a try again this year with more of a high-end mailer to more of a targeted audience. Unfortunately, my results didn't really change much.

    The first time we sent out the mailer we got 3 calls. 1 of them turned into a $10,000 lighting job. A second job will be about the same, but we have yet to sign a contract on that. Not sure if or when we ever will. The third lead was a bust. That's what I got for spending over $3000 in design, mailers, stamps, targeted labels, and labor to put on all the stamps and sticky dots. Not worth it. Bad ROI.

    The second time, so far, we haven't received any calls that I know of.

    Mailers - even good ones to targeted audience, sent out in prime season - don't really seem to be a good method of marketing these days. I wouldn't spend too much money on that. We get a way way way better ROI from our internet marketing efforts. And of course word of mouth.
  8. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,843

    Not trying to step on your toes here, but this jumped out at me. I've always been told by marketing guru's that you have 10 seconds to capture someone's attention with print ads. If it's too much to look at, they toss it. Do you think that the 4-page mailer might be a bit much for a recipient to take in as a first point of contact..... and maybe that might be why your response has been so low? Just food for thought....... Direct mail was always the best form of advertising for my market in the growing years, but I've always kept it real simple... but with a nice, big photo of an illuminated home. Sometimes the front of my card would say something as simple as... "Landscape Lighting.... It's the finishing touch for your home" Call now to schedule your complimentary design consultation"
    Just curious to know why it works so well in some markets, but not so well in others. Makes me want to go back to college for a marketing degree!!

  9. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    I'm not sure you understand. What they see when it arrives in the mail is this:


    From there, they only see the rest if they open it up. It's a half-fold post-card like this:


    Anyway, if that's not attention grabbing enough, so be it. I'm not going to waste much more time and money than I already have on trying to figure out exactly what kind of flyer to make, what exactly to say to catch their attention, etc. What? You expect me to spend another $3,000 and create another one with less information and only a few words and maybe that will grab their attention better? Then if that doesn't work, try it again another way? You gotta be kidding me. I could spend that same money on SEM advertising and get a TON of calls. Just not worth it.

    And actually, you're just making my point for me. Post cards, mailers, etc. are just more work than they are worth. That's my opinion.

    If they work in your area, awesome! You're either smarter than me or the people in your area like mailers more. Either way, I'm screwed. So I'm not wasting any more time on stuff that really doesn't even product marginal ROI.

    Mailers, flyers, direct-to-consumer advertising, etc. were all things I gave up on about 6 years ago anyway. We've been killing it in sales and growth with just the website and internet marketing. Only reason I tried it this year was because we had some extra dough and I wanted to see if maybe we did a high end kind of mailer targeted to the right homes if that might get us a little more of the kind of jobs we wanted in the neighborhoods we typically work in. It was just an experiment for us. And it didn't pan out well at all. So back to what works!
  10. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,843

    Like I said my friend, I'm just curious about what you were doing...... just for my own education. I don't do any kind of mailers anymore either, and I agree that internet searches and word of mouth is the best.
    Sorry if I twisted you panties. I sincerely didn't mean to do that. Best wishes to you in all of your endeavors.

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