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    36 Replies Latest reply on Feb 13, 2013 10:12 AM by stuheinecke

    Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips

    FCPainter Adventurer
      My business is a large residential painting company in the Northeast. Last year, our 200K piece DM campaign was the worst ever. We're now getting only a few hundred leads a year from the direct mail. We have a nice flow of word of mouth referrals, but need to figure out how to replace the leads we no longer see through the direct mail. Does anyone have good success stories of other ways to get leads?
        • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
          Midnite Mac Newbie
          Happy New Year!

          FCPainter, I found that know matter what type of business you own or what hobby you have. The basic "public" want to revert to a website for references. (Easy to bookmark) Such as; a homepage for general or contact info, and some blog of updated info about your daily activities and company progress. This could also include graphs of statistics ...etc... With that stated; websites are easy and dirt cheap to construct anymore. Just my input?

          3205 Los Feliz Blvd. | Los Angeles, CA, 90039 | 323.543.6193
          Web: | Email:

          "We Install. We Administer. We're the Headless Remote to your Foundation."

          Copyright © 2008 Midnite Mac
          • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
            Lighthouse24 Ranger

            I think a good direct mail piece is still effective -- provided it gets delivered! I was seeing a similar trend to what you're reporting a year ago -- so in the last campaign I injected the list with 200 valid test addresses where receipt/delivery would be logged and verified. 44 of those 200 pieces (22 percent) never arrived. Whether the DM firm never mailed them or the USPS "lost" them is still uncertain, but after adjusting the total campaign downward by that percentage, the response rate was actually slightly better than the "old days." I'm not sure that knowing that makes it any less frustrating, however!
            • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
              LUCKIEST Guide
              Painter, I agree with you and Lighthouse great answer. Direct mail is getting more expense and less effective.
              I can tell you about my success story and at the same time give you another idea.
              A phone call campaign (almost like telemarketing but a little less).
              You have a nice flow of word of mouth referrals. Now expand that by phone calls.
              Back in the 80's I had a small accounting and tax practice in Bergen county, N J. I brought in a semi-telemarketer
              who succeeded ingetting a lot of new clients and also changed my life around. It was more fun to talk to people
              than do Accounting. Eventually I sold me accounting practice and still talk to people.
              • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                Iwrite Pioneer
                FC, you have gotten some great advice. Have you tried radio along with interactive? You could do an email campaign that could either be a newsletter or a flyer like email. You could use radio to position yourself as the authority on residential painting with tips and helpful advice. These have worked for my clients in the past.

                I would be interested in knowing what your direct mail piece looked like. I think there could be problems with your list and delivery as previously mentioned.

                I hope that helped.
                  • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                    FCPainter Adventurer
                    These are all great pieces of advice. I am going to prioritize checking up on whether the pieces are being delivered and running a telemarketing test. I'll see how that goes and get back to the group
                      • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                        LUCKIEST Guide
                        Painter, Sounds like a good move. Let me know if now need help with running a telemarketing test.
                        • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                          CorpCons08 Ranger

                          I also have a large-scale Direct Mail Firm as a client that may be able to assist you.
                          They can review your current campaign and help you come up with ideas for better results.
                          I have many clients that have had a lot of success with them.

                            • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                              Rob Marketing Newbie
                              I feel that Direct Mail is dead unless you have a targeted
                              list that you are sending out to, or having a company send out to as well. Think about who you want to target. Get into high end neighborhoods and do a Door
                              Hanger campaign. Door Hanger campaigns can
                              be done cheaper than direct mail because of the rising postage rates.

                              I design small Door Hanger campaigns for some of my clients
                              and they love it. eMail me if you would like
                              to know more/

                              As far as the idea of everything not being delivered; we
                              work with a national distributor that has been a client and friend of mine for

                              Think about it. What do
                              you do with the junk you receive in the mail?
                              The whole pile usually goes in the trash? With a Door Hanger campaign you can target
                              EXACT houses and communities you want to do business in, your ad doesn't have
                              to conform to Postal Service guidelines and if you ad is eye-catching the
                              potential customer will have no choice but to at least give it a read.

                              Typical Direct mail response for residential delivery ~1.5-2%

                              Typical targeted Door Hanger campaign response ~3.5-5%

                              I found these numbers by doing some research before I offered
                              this service to my customers. I do not
                              know how accurate it is, but my customers have seen a better response working with
                              Door Hangers rather than Direct Mail.

                              Rob Milburn
                              Pier Marketing
                        • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                          faiths13 Newbie
                          I agree that the public wants a good website to look at. When I am looking into something i always go to the internet first. There are many different places where you can get a free or inexpensive web site going! They are very easy to do as well. Also, you can try posting ads in local community papers. We have one in my community that is about $20 per month. Not to mention flyers, handing out business cards to everyone you meet. Hope that helps!


                          Virtual Office Express
                          Businss Solutions for a Busy World
                          • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                            MobileMktng Newbie

                            I recently came out of Broadcast TV Sales Mgt to start my own gig consulting small businesses on advertising and marketing. One of the biggest issues with Direct Mail is the generally poor response rate, generally less than 3%, some research shows as low as 1/10th of 1%! I'd agree with some of the others that the web is important, but the web is a resource and not a substitute for true mass market advertising. Television and radio remain the two strongest forms to convey a message, TV the hands down most effective. I didn't catch what city you live in, however, I can assure you that redirecting that $200k into a TV campaign in virtually any market (less Top 10) will get you visibility that DM can't possibly achieve. If you are in a Top 10 market, local cable, while still expensive, is very targeted and can still accomplish more than any mail drop. Lastly, I suggest you integrate a call-to-action in whatever you do. Mobile Marketing (my specialty) is an excellent means to take the call-to-action incentive of DM and combine it with branding of TV/Radio.

                            TV/Radio/Print Campaign: Text 'PAINT' to 12345 for 20% off
                            Text Response: Call xxx-xxx-xxxx, ref this text 2 get 20% off. 4 more r8 savings in ftr respond 'BRUSH'
                            Customers can make call then or later, phone number is on the text. Those who respond BRUSH are placed in a data base for access at a later point for a future incentive.

                            Beauty of Mobile Marketing is that you can assign a keyword (PAINT1, PAINT2, etc) for every medium you are advertsing in, thus allowing you to track the effectiveness of each ad, as well as making everything a call to action with an incentive. The database extends your media value for continuing client relations, could even use it to send out referral incentives...$50 gift certificate for each referral, pls fwd this message to a friend.


                            Bottom line: stop the Direct Mail, no President ever got elected using it. Look to TV & Radio and integrate text messaging to make sure you can measure the ROI.


                            Eric Lazar
                            Image Architecture
                            • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                              OceanList Newbie
                              Nowdays people are very sceptical about everthing they get in mail I
                              personally put immediatly away most of the advertising. We are all busy
                              and our consumers are busy too.

                              try email marketign - it is very pioeful too l for lead generation:
                              - Create simple and nice form on your site wich your clients need to fill out to be contacted about your services
                              - Design several attractive creaives
                              - Contact email marketing compnies about email blast to
                              HomeImprovmet Lists or Homeowners list (depends on who is your client). Remember to make sure lists are freash
                              and you know how the record were generated!!
                              -Email companies work on CPM (cost per thousands impressions
                              (records in this case)) or CPL (cost per lead) basis - you probably
                              will be able to find good quaility emailers in the range of $2 -$4 CPM
                              Email can be very productive and it can deliver to you 2-40 leads a day
                              • depends on size of the list. After that you get the leads you have
                              to imeediatly follow up with prospective consumer discuss their needs.
                              You just need to keep an eye on your ROI - always!

                              And another great thing about it - you will collect all this reacord and later can remarket or upsell them!

                              It works and definetly worth to try. Let me know if you have any questions.
                              • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                                textpros Newbie

                                Direct mail is almost dead as a cost effective lead generation vehicle. The best way to use direct mail is to contact current customers and ask for referrals _or_keep your name in front "top of mind awareness" to people in your data base that didn't buy yet.

                                My suggestion? I have 83+ million permission based SMS text numbers and 150,000 million permission based email addresses. I can demo and geo target with over 700 data selects and by comparison to the cost of direct mail, it's much more cost effective. Plus with every SMS campaign we'll send out a matching HTML email for free. Two forms of media for the price of one. We are the aggreegator of our data, we don't buy list. We generate them.


                                Some of our clients include, Home Depot, Red Lobster, Olive Garden,


                                Rosen Hotels, PGA Resorts, Disney, Dell, Navy, National Guard, United Way, Apple Bee's and Wegman's just to name a few.




                                If you'd like to learn more call or email.

                                Tony Giuliani
                                • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                                  AustinLivin Wayfarer
                                  I tend to agree with Lighthouse. But also think some of this is a reflection of the ecomony overall. Not as many people are spending money right now, and average household savings is up to 7%. Plus with the drop off in home sales and lousy equity markets, it's just a tough time.

                                  I think you have to keep doing direct mail to stay in front of your audience. You should be sure to scrub the list of any bad contacts before re-using. You could consider doing it less frequently in order to free up cash to pursue other options, such as investing in a good SEO (search engine optimization) campaign.

                                  I'm a big believer in press releases to trumpet both your accomplishments and marketing message. If done right, it gets the attention of the press, increases SEO, drives traffic to your website, and ultimately helps grow your business.

                                  Become a content guru on house painting as well. When the economy thaws a little more, they will undoubtedly need your services to spruce up their homes or to stage a sale. Offer loads of helpful tips and free downloads from your website to keep them coming back, and keep the search engines impressed.

                                  Hope this helps!
                                  • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                                    freewebdesign Wayfarer
                                    Direct mail definitely isn't dead but it's harder and harder and can be pretty costly too. If you have a website, I'd focus more on making it easier for potential customers to find YOU and have a great story to tell once they get there. I'd focus my time/effort/money on search engine optimization, list building (as mentioned earlier in the thread) and maybe even look at pay per click advertising.

                                    Good luck,
                                    Free Web Design Evangelist
                                    • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                                      TrumpNetwork Newbie
                                      The internet has changed all the rules when it comes to marketing and advertising. Tips are plentiful, but even if the advice was text book it still might take a lot of trial and error which leads to lost time and money.

                                      I found an online tool that is a system for lead generation. The system walks you through step by step. The company uses tools that are commonly found in network marketing and multi-level. In these types of businesses those who have an understanding of the internet and how to automate lead generation will definately dominate the market.

                                      Check out this capture page that I made for my business opportunity. It initially took me 10 minutes to configure, but now it can collect leads for me forever. On the bottom of the capture page is a link for more information. Check out ............
                                      <!--Session data-->
                                      • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                                        wayonda Wayfarer
                                        If you're willing to invest some time on my site I can likely provide you excellent search engine results in your geographical area.
                                        • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                                          Carl Grothaus Adventurer

                                          Well, gone are the days when mails used to be a good avenue for marketing. Now, the customers are quiet intelligent and you need to customize your product as per their needs and try building upon a long lasting relationships with them. Promotional campaigns and also promotional products are good avenues in this aspect and they help in generating a brand name to your business. They are well customizable and inculcate a sense of attachment in the minds of customers. The studies have also shown that 76% of customers remembered the name of there business vendors who offered promotional products. So they are quiet promising in terms of marketing and promotion.

                                          • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                                            Moderator Berta Guide

                                            Lots of great advice and information happening here. Thanks for sharing everyone! Lets keep it coming.



                                            • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                                              Mike Ratchford Wayfarer

                                              We have done lots of direct mail for our customers and will be glad to say it is not dead.  Changing but not dead.  The advice to use direct mail to current and past customers was good and we always start there in building programs.  But your question was generating leads.


                                              Lets go through a couple of numbers that will help you.  45% of all leads generate will not close for at least 12 months after they become leads.  So, the number one program to adjust your mail program is to direct some of the money at staying in contact with leads that did not close.  If you have 100 leads per month and 45 will close in 12 months or longer, after one year you will have more that 500 good prospects in your data base.  Not suspects, prospects.  Now for the 55 others, let's say the your a great closer and you can get 20% to agree to purcahse your product.  That is 20, so 35 either buy from someone else, or have delayed the decesion.  Either way they are still prospects for your service in the future.  So again, keep mailing to them.  Over a 5 year period using this model you will have over 5000 names in your database that have a relationship with you.  Once a lead, stay in touch and they will be use best future customers.  You can move the number up or down depending on lead counts per month. Second best use of direct mail is to your lead file.


                                              Now on to direct mail to suspects, people who don't know you and you want to build relationships with them.  Number one thing to remember  about direct mail is that only about 15% or less of the list mailed to will have interest in the product at the time the direct mail piece is delivered. So for 100 peices deliver only 15 will have any likely hood of calling to start a purchasing converstion.  The rest will not.  What makes direct mail work is expanding the offer to attract more people than the 15%.  Do you offer a painting standards guide?  Do you offer a painting eatimating guide?  Do you offer do it yourself painting workshops on the web?  Do you offer a guide on how to select the right paint for your project?  Consumers want information and they can get it easily.  Become their source for easy information.  To get your information they need to register at your site.  We have now done two things: one got them to your site where they see lots of testimonals and more information.  Second, we there name, email and most importanly when are they considering a painting project.


                                              This process we call segementing.  You now move these people to relationship mail designed for prospects and not the mail peices designed to suspects.


                                              We also use QR codes to make it easier for people to ge to the web sites  and landing pages to make the experience more relevant.


                                              Just some thoughts on why we don't believe direct mail is dead.

                                              • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                                                koln123 Tracker

                                                Identify 3-5 complimentary businesses you already have a good relationship with (Ex: The company that does windows, the co that does floors and the co that does A/C, etc.)   Talk to them about these general issues, they probably have the same ones.   Get an effective system of inter referrals going.  Possibly ask for a cut.  You make strong efforts to refer to them, they make strong efforts to refer to you.  Send cust's to them 1st, get them excited.   Have updated customer references to show.   I remember a deck guy had pictures on the spot of his recent work, that was very effective.    See if you can slightly expand your services.    Call 3 - 5 old customers a day.  You will get business.  Ask if they need windows, flooring or A/C), etc. When you start sending your guys this business, use that rapport, smile and say hey, where are the guys you are sending to me?  They should start sending to you.   Ask your old customers for referrals.  Good luck

                                                • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                                                  stuheinecke Adventurer

                                                  I've found that what you send has everything to do with what you get back in response.  If your piece is run-of-the-mill, no one will pay attention.  I have been using personalized cartoons for more than 30 years and have been achieving stellar results, both for large direct marketers (just set a new record for Easter Seals last week) and countless SMBs.  Don't laugh -- cartoons are almost always the best read and remembered part of magazines and newspapers, and we have discovered that recipients react very differently to our pieces as well.  Our postcards almost always end up on refrigerator doors, and stay there for years.  In B2B settings, they achieve far superior penetration because assistants don't throw away cartoons about their bosses.  The take-away is that when mailings are "sticky," the results can be dramatic.


                                                  Direct mail has another big advantage today in that it has become almost "alternative" marketing, as everyone else focuses on online sources.  That means there is greater and greater value to having something tangible show up in someone's mailbox, simply because there are fewer marketers doing it, allowing you all the more opportunity to stand out. 


                                                  So, how does stickiness translate into results?  Consider the test we did for Standard Parking.  We mailed postcards to 6,000 lapsed customers of their off-airport parking facility near LAX.  The postcard included the offer of a free 24-hour stay at the facility and, of course, our personalized cartoon device.  After just 30 days'  worth of coupon redemptions, the client reported that the campaign set their all-time record -- it produced more response than anything they'd done before in print, radio, television or direct mail.  The amazing part was, because recipients kept the postcards on display in their homes and offices, they continued to be reminded of the free-stay offer.  As a result, redemptions continued to pour in for a year and a half.


                                                  My advice is to test aggressively and strive for a combination of stickiness and winning offer. 

                                                  • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                                                    Jim Peters Tracker

                                                    Direct mails dont work too well these days. What you can do is adopt a new marketing strategy. Analyze what your competitors do. Study what works for your kind of business. To start with you can tweet, use FB and other social media sites for marketing.

                                                    • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                                                      Kalin Wayfarer

                                                      Go online, do email marketing, mobile marketing via sms & mms. People are most likely to search a service on internet. Nowadays mobile search is really rapidly growing so you should have this in mind too.

                                                      Our company ProTexting provide mobile marketing solutions and more and businesses are using it. There isn't a faster way your message to be read by the customers.

                                                      • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                                                        mrenigma Newbie

                                                        I'm a small sign owner that is growing rapidly and lately vehicle wraps or mobile marketing is getting results more than direct marketing. Also the proper company apparel supporting your company helps as well if going business to business. We've landed some great fleet accounts wrapping all there vehicles and it's proving success for them as long the graphics are visually acceptable. It helps with the proper design of the wraps that promote your company. Direct marketing is slowly evaporating.

                                                        • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                                                          Yovonne Kenny Adventurer

                                                          PPC is the way to go in order to drive Phone calls, emails, and form submittals!  It allows you to get in front of consumers who are already looking for you!  Other Online marketing options you could compare to Direct Mail (Creative Marketing) is Search Retargeting, Site Retargeting and of course Social Media combined with a content development strategy!


                                                          Make sure your website is ready to convert the traffic though.  These marketing mediums are great and they work but if your website is not ready to convert them you will not get the lowest Cost-Per-lead.  Feel free to reach out to me I would be willing to take a look at your site and make recommendations at no charge.

                                                          • Re: Direct Mail not working anymore - any tips
                                                            stuheinecke Adventurer

                                                                It seems like the discussion has taken a left turn.  The original quandary was whether direct mail is or is not working anymore (it is), not whether we should all have websites.  Certainly, it is important to have an online presence, in the same way it's important to have a business card.  I think the opportunity presented by direct mail is that it allows a marketer to stand out in an increasingly uncrowded channel and put something tangible and memorable in recipients' hands.  Today, the tactical approach says, "Make sure you can be found on the Web."  The strategic approach says, "Make sure your customers and prospects never have to resort to a search."  The search results are, after all, where prospects see most of your competitors, too.


                                                                A case in point from my own experience might help.  We've been producing a monthly touch postcard campaign for a prominent commercial roofer in Florida for several years.  My specialty happens to be using personalized cartoons as an engagement device, so each of the postcards includes a relevant, carefully-crafted cartoon about each recipient.  As a result, they found many of their list members have been collecting the entire series of postcards on their office walls; last year, the campaign brought in a million dollars worth of direct business.  Prior to the '08 crash, the postcards actually helped them more than double their business, from $8 million to $20 million, over a three-year period.  Direct mail, and then later, e-mail has been instrumental in cementing these relationships on a broad scale, such that most of the commercial property owners and managers in their territory never do a Google search for commercial roofing services, they just reach for one of the cards.


                                                                This is not meant as a plug, but if anyone is interested, I wrote a book called Drawing Attention, which explains how the cartoon approach works.  It's the product of 30 years and millions of dollars worth of test experience and countless record-breaking campaigns for many of the world's biggest direct marketers.


                                                                I hope all of this is helpful.  In my experience, direct mail is working quite well.  But what you send and the strategy behind it are critical factors in your overall success.  Smart marketers know their biggest gains come from uncrowded channels, something Guerrilla Marketing author Jay Conrad Levinson taught us years ago.