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I can get 4% returns on direct mail.. want to know how?

61329 Views 172 Replies 56 Participants Last post by  Paint medics
Another article from my blog/forum.. written with my industry but it should apply to painters as well.

How To Systematically Dominate a Market: Part 1

I see so many companies that offer excellent service and superior workmanship floundering at lead generation. The biggest issue is not applying what they already know to their marketing agenda. Let me explain:

Most of us can tackle a job in our chosen field from A-Z with relative ease. We know what comes off the truck, where to begin and where to end. We can predict accurately the results of our efforts. When it comes to advertising there is so much rhetoric and empty promise that many of us get stuck spending money on low performance, single run campaigns that generate nothing. We end up frustrated and bad mouthing that particular form of advertising. Where are we going wrong? We are not following the same type of systematic approach.

The Rule of Repetition
Everyone has heard about this and, if you watch TV for a few hours every week, you have witnessed it in action. Yet, we will stubbornly deny this rule exists. We'll run two postcard campaigns (or maybe just one) and when we get two calls from a thousand names.. postcards go out the window. Everyone buys on trust.. no matter what the purchase. Repetition creates this trust.

But Repetition is EXPENSIVE !!
Not if you do it right. The key is what I call "small target domination".

What is Small Target Domination and Where Do I Begin?
Compile Your Target List
1) The first thing I do is establish the geographic area I want to target. It may be one zip code, or it may be a few. Drive to that area. Is it rich with contractor activity? Is it a keep-up-with-the-Joneses neighborhood? Take notes on what you see. Write down street names. More on why you do that in a moment.
2) Return home and begin to compile a mailing list. That does not mean you mail to the entire zip code. The zip codes are your starting point. You are looking to get the list narrowed between 500-1500 prospects depending on your budget. You can use a service like to start narrowing your criteria. Criteria I use..
a) Ownership of the home for five years plus. These people have recovered from the inital purchase and are ready to start spending money on upgrades or curb appeal.
b) Household income at least twice that of the state average.
c) The value of the home itself. Odds are, if you have gone to the right neighborhoods in step-1 you will have a general idea of the home pricing there. I disclude houses over $2,000,000 as the homeowners are hard to reach. The majority of my customer's properties range from $350,000 to $1,000,000. It also goes without saying that you want to narrow only to homeowners and disclude renters.
d) Carrier routes: The reason I write down street names is so that I can determine the carier routes. I may only want to target half of a zip code. You can use the 'zip plus four' system as well.
3) Once you have your list of residences research the area. What newspaper do these people read? I'm talking about small geographic distribution/local papers. What do these people like to do for liesure? What is the dominant religion for the area? What schools do they send their children to? What restaurants and eateries do they frequent?

Now What?
Get Your Name Out There
My goal is to begin branding. That is a bad word to many experts with respect to small companies. Perhaps it is in the semantics of the definition. Let's call it 'trust building". As I stated in this thread, trust building is achieved via repetition. The more they see your name, the more credible you become. These are the steps I recommend.

1) Introduce yourself. Send out a letter of introduction. The key is to get people to open it. There are a couple of methods I use.
a) I send a standard letter envelope and include a magnet or drink coaster. (more on the drink coaster in another thread). When people feel something inside an envelope, they open it. Make sure the envelope is addressed to the homeonwer, not "occupant" or "resident". I have spent money on custom envelopes with "Special Offer Inside" and it produced no greater return. Spend your money on what's inside. The letter itself should be informative and have a friendly, personalized tone. Your goal with this intro is not neccessarily to sell your service. Its a "Hi, how are you, we're here if you need us letter". You can include a seperate coupon (print it on glossy stock) call to action if you want but it drives up cost and again, I did not see added return when I did that. The return on this first mailer will be nil to .25 percent. (by the end of the campaign, you should expect 3-5% returns)
b) As an alternate, send out an introduction greeting card. This envelope size is the most opened. I'm not going to get into what you say on the card, bit it is a great method for direct mail. I utilize it now as the second mailing in my campaign.

2) Now is the time to set up your support advertising. Remember when we compiled the lifestyle information about our target area? You use that now to determine where you will run ads.
a) Get listed in the contractor section of their local paper. If your budget is higher, place an ad in the paper somewhere.
b) Advertise in their church bulletin. This one is huge. There is a psychological advantage that occurs when people see your ads here.
c) Go to their local eateries. If there is a bulletin board, put a flyer up there. Talk to the owner. Many shops sell advertising on their takeout menus. I have gotten into leaving drink coasters with local upscale pubs. I had a call last month from a young girl that took one of my coasters home and called me. She didn't need service but her mother just had construction done and her house was filthy from the dust. That job paid for my next 8000 coasters.
d) Golfing is big in my demographic. These people are perfect. Disposable income and they don't DIY on the weekends when they can be out on the course. I have gotten to be friends with the guy that runs the clubhouse at a private course near my house. I leave flyers there and this spring I am co-sponsoring an outing. You'd laugh if I told you how inexpensive this exposure is.
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My company has always done mostly new construction and commercial work. I advertise alot to try to offset this with some residential work. I have done every type of advertising you can think of....spent up to 20k a year on it....newspapers, yellow pages..never got the "work" I wanted...all a waste until....last spring I did my first post card mailer....let me tell you..the best thing I've ever done. Did the cards myself with Microsort Publisher with artwork from my sign guy.(look very professional) Researched the types of neigborhoods in my area and used a couple of real estate services to make my mailing list. (dont pay for one...too expensive)..also send one out every quarter to homes that have either sold, expired, relisted or under agreement in my target areas..( usually homes between 500k --25 mil).great response... my total investment last year was under $3000.00 inculding postage and I landed over $100,000 in business...and its still coming in with interior work...referals...ect. This was the best way to advertise because I can select my target homes to maximize my profitability. Plan do double it this year...I think the key is timing....get em out soon as the weather breaks and people are itching to get out and work on their homes...good luck
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I think he means if he sends out 1,000 flyers he will get 40 phone calls, from their you can probaly figure how much work that is by using your closing rate, and you average size job. Is this correct Ken????
40 may be a little high.... but I find that I can close about 75% once I get the lead....
Yes, Dave. my closing ratio runs about 50%

NEPS, remember I am selling jobs in the $600-$1500 range. I am also in a densely populated metro suburb so it is much easier for me to get a high closing rate. I like exterior work because it is almost like selling a consumable. Like it or not, people need to see my company in one way or another just about every year.
Oh...don't get me wrong...I think Its great no matter what your range is...I've landed work from 500 - 15,000 ... I'm just agreeing that the method works great! Thanks
Would you be opposed to sharing the card? This was a great idea. Thanks for sharing it. long as your not from Boston...haha ...
Look, here in the Chicago area, Empire Carpet has been advertising on the TV and radio for over 30 years. Their stupid jingle along with their Phone # are branded in my mind. Would I call these people when I need carpet? HELL NO, they have some of the worst installers and their prices are amongst the highest in the biz. Now if you chumps want to believe that marketing is the key to success, sell out to the highest bidder and move to China so you can be the cheapest bastard in world!
......are saying that you would not want to be the CEO of Empire Carpet because you think they have sold out and moved to China?

Marketing is part of the formula in the keys to success.
That is exactly what has happened in Chicago and the rest of this country, many if not most are blinded by marketing, and will buy an inferior product or service, because of the hype. Open your eyes, look around you, look at the CEO's, the politicians from the local level to the White House who are being indicted constantly, you most likely have supported them because you were mesmerized by their marketing BS, not the quality of the product or the ability to govern honestly.
.....So are we to assume that you think everyone that does a fair amount of marketing and advertising is puting out an inferior product? Sounds to me like to me that you are jealous and have lost some work to a company that uses advertising. It is eisier for you to lump everyone together and somehow come to the conclusion that we do inferior work or that we are dishonest because we advertise to get work. Sounds like you have your own bag of issues to deal with and it is probably a good idea for you to work alone... if you are working at all.
What lack of evidence? I guess you must be too busy marketing, or getting marketed to see the corporate and political sleeze in this country. Thank you for giving the right to express my opinion, O Great Marketing One! You have no entitlement to your opinion being correct! I don't know who you support politically, but my guess wouldn't be that hard to make.

.........your the "BUSH" dude.........
What im saying is that marketing and advertising without delivering is dishonest and untruthfull. I could give a good **** what the hell you think of me, if I am down and out or booming, what the HELL does it matter to you?

Do I need your approval to have my own opinion? I think not! But unfortunatally that's the way this country is going!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK .....Chicken Little ......Do you run around your town with your hands above your head screaming " The Sky is Falling and the Economy is Too!!" If you were booming I doubt you'd be on here tearin people up..... you just might be a little happier....
Is your last name Frued? Are you a painter or a pyschoanalyst?
........ why ....... were you not hugged enough as a kid? Do you need someone to talk to my angry little painter?:cry: :cry: :cry:
Get your post count up and send me a private message for the info.

That is a very good question, and I wont try to speak for NEPS, but I think there are some answers to why a member wouldnt be obliged to post his best strategies on the forum.

There are so many universal challenges, particularly to marketing - like mailing list generation - that when you find a unique solution and get it to work for you, its almost like proprietary information that you would gladly share with noncompeting colleagues in other markets, but may not feel comfortable sticking on a thread for the world to see. Solving marketing and sales challenges is difficult, and when you do, it gives you a position of differentiation that places you slightly ahead of the curve in your market, and that might make you hesitant to make it readily available to the whole wide world wide web. There are so many people who roll through looking for quick solutions, but never contribute anything meaningful. Just a thought.
:yes: what he said................
Now if you chumps want to believe that marketing is the key to success,

I wonder what Bushdude is doing these days ......pumping gas?

I think when NEPS told mboslik to get his post count up, he was referring to the fact that you have to have a certain number (20 I believe) before you can pm another member. You appear more than qualified!
Thank you my translator ...... I think it and you write it .....I am thinking or starting a thread in the marketining section....... oohhhmmmmmmmmm....oohhhhmmmmmmmm....oohhhmmmmmmmmI sending you a telepathic message....type VP...TYPE!
I completely understand. I will try to be as helpful as i can replying to other posts and get my post count up. This forum is great, and i will do my best to make it even better wheneveer i can help. Thanks everybody for your helpful posts.:notworthy:
I'll be more than happy to help .....once I know you not the bozo two miles away from me..hahaha. Good Luck!!!!
The target market portion of your strategy is very good.

I agree high end homeowners do not want to see cheap mailers.

I am surprised that your would subject your high end clients to putting a sign in their yard, or flyering the surrounding 20 houses saying you just painted your clients house.

Most high end clients dont want to be part of your ad campaign. They pay good money for a high end experience, and being part of your ad campaign is not in the contract.

I am not saying they all would mind, but enough would find it distasteful that they would be put off by it.

Its not just about having high end clients, it's about having a certain kind of high end client.

When you provide top notch service, your name gets passed around.

You dont need to put signs in high end clients yards, that's for CollegePro painters to mess with.
LC ...very well said!

I have been preaching this here for a while with nothing but friction.
A lawn sign is one of the best ways to get your name out there -quote]

How did you come up with this conclusion?
I think some of you are really hung up on "class" or "high end work". You might be missing the boat on what really makes a business successful.
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Having your van displaying your business name and phone number parked in their driveway/street while you are doing the work serves as a very functional sign.
Unless your diving a '82 olds station wagon with wood paneling with a 32 tied with rags to the top.
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