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  #1  
Old 09-30-2008, 03:43 PM
agrilawn agrilawn is offline
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Question Direct Mail Marketing

I am the Marketing Manager for AgriLawn. We have been in business since 1991. Each Spring we usually send out a Direct Mail piece to all the Single Family Dwelling Households in the Metro area (printing around 300,000 pieces). In the past each household received up to 3 mail pieces from us in the Spring time. This past year we tried doing a little more targeted mailings. We narrowed some of the carrier routes to where we were targeting a specific income level and home value. Currently we are in the process of analyzing the information to see if the targeted mailing helped.

The reason I am bringing this up is to see what other companies do. This is my first year doing the marketing for AgriLawn. The founder has been working with me in the analyzing because this was her project in the past. After working with her on this for 2 days, she does not have a rhyme or reason to how she decides which zipcodes/carrier routes to mail or target. We have been looking at the history from the last 2 years to see how many customers we received from each carrier route, and what the average cost per customer is in that area. We are also looking at our saturation rate.

For example:
zip code 12345/c012
2006 we mailed 2x to 456 homes
we received 5 customers and have 60 in the area
Cost to obtain customer $40

2007 we mailed 3x to 456 homes
we received 2 customers
Cost to obtain customer $157

2008 we did targeted mailing 3x to 225 homes
we received 2 customers
Cost to obtain customer $84

From the example - 2006 we did pretty good mailing to the whole route. Saturation is pretty good in the area. But in 2007 we increased the mailing to 3x and the cost per customer shot way up. Since the saturation in that area is good we decided to try the targeted mailings 3x. The cost per customer went down but still not as good as we would like to see. (goal is around $60-70) Maybe if we had only mailed 2x the cost would be better?

We have come to the conclusion that the targeted mailing did good in some areas, but had no effect in others.

Now my question is, what kind of formula do you have to figure out what area you should mail to and how often?
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  #2  
Old 09-30-2008, 05:43 PM
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Welcome to our forum!

Very interesting question.

My first thought is to ask you are you sending out the same mailer each of the three times per year? Or do they differ?

Are you sending out the same one year after year?

Have you been experimenting with different elements to see which pull a better response?
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  #3  
Old 09-30-2008, 07:45 PM
cklandscapingorlando cklandscapingorlando is offline
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I would probley look at my routes.The more work in one area the less your over all cost are.Even if it cost you more per new client if you can stop needless driving your overall cost will go down.I would also use a diffrent mailer each time and explain why your diffrent.What do you do and more importantly how do I come out ahead.Identify the most common problems with your comp and point out how and why you dont have these problems.I know alot of people put out material in the spring and for good reason.But in the middle of summer we have chinch bug,fungus and drought trouble.All would seem to be a reason to put out your material.If a person is having a chinch problem and your mailer comes with imformation on how companies are having problems controling it.Then how your integrated aproach will control it and boost the asthetic quality of the grounds,you might get a call
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  #4  
Old 09-30-2008, 11:52 PM
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WOW!! Awesome post, lots of info, and something Im pretty familiar with. First... welcome to the site, and let me give you some info on my background. Not only do I own Plan-it Graphics, but own my own Lawn Care company also. Based on your website, your company and mine are very similar with a main focus on fertilizer and weed control services. I started the lawn care company in 1999.

First question I have is... You mention you mail out 300,000 pieces. What was your response rate from that many pieces? I have never done that amount in one year. The most i did was 25,000 in the spring and 10,000 in the fall.

On that amount, I can't see how you can be very saturated in one area. It seems your "territory" would be HUGE. But then again, Im not real familiar with the company or how many branches you have. Maybe you can shed some light on that matter?

Next question... You mention your mailings in previous years and they are nowhere near 300,000. Am I missing something?

Based on the amount you mailed i feel it is very difficult to accurately use those formulas as a "cost per sale." However, $40 is INSANELY low. I'll pay $40 all day long for a customer. I have not tracked my performance over the past few years as accurately as I used to. But about 5 years ago, my cost per sale for Direct Mail was about $79.00. I know that amount has gone up drastically over the past few. Direct mail just isn't what it used to be. I still feel it is one of the best, if not the best way to get customers. But the old days of a 2% response rate are over and it's more like .5%.

As far as a formula, i don't see anything your doing wrong. Mailing 2 or 3 times is perfect. I try to get at least 4 mailings out each year to my "bread and butter" areas. I'll make those mailings very targeted. Only about 1000 names on that list. My big mailer in the spring is less targeted with approx. 10,000 names I mail to twice.

For example, since we offer kind od the same services... My 1000 piece maiiing list... I'll send one out in late February & late March advertising spring services. One in early june for Grub control, then one in late august for Core Aeration/seeding.

So hopefully this helps, and once you answer the above questions, maybe I can offer more. So let me know.

Bob
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Old 10-01-2008, 08:01 AM
agrilawn agrilawn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Welcome to our forum!

Very interesting question.

My first thought is to ask you are you sending out the same mailer each of the three times per year? Or do they differ?

Are you sending out the same one year after year?

Have you been experimenting with different elements to see which pull a better response?
The last couple of years each piece was similar, with small changes. This year I will be designing a different piece because to me there was too much information and it was too busy. We send it out 2-3 times to the same househould within 6-8 weeks during the spring time.

As far as I can tell they have not tried experiementing to see which pulls the better response. Next year I have planned for 3 different campaigns. The first one is the Spring Mailing that they do every year. The next one will be late spring early summer to just the targeted mailings for our pest control side. And then the final mailing will be in the fall to the targeted mailings again to gain customers for the following year. I plan on having a different piece each time to see measure the response and see which type is best.
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Old 10-01-2008, 08:26 AM
agrilawn agrilawn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plan-It Graphics View Post
WOW!! Awesome post, lots of info, and something Im pretty familiar with. First... welcome to the site, and let me give you some info on my background. Not only do I own Plan-it Graphics, but own my own Lawn Care company also. Based on your website, your company and mine are very similar with a main focus on fertilizer and weed control services. I started the lawn care company in 1999.

First question I have is... You mention you mail out 300,000 pieces. What was your response rate from that many pieces? I have never done that amount in one year. The most i did was 25,000 in the spring and 10,000 in the fall.

On that amount, I can't see how you can be very saturated in one area. It seems your "territory" would be HUGE. But then again, Im not real familiar with the company or how many branches you have. Maybe you can shed some light on that matter?

Next question... You mention your mailings in previous years and they are nowhere near 300,000. Am I missing something?

Based on the amount you mailed i feel it is very difficult to accurately use those formulas as a "cost per sale." However, $40 is INSANELY low. I'll pay $40 all day long for a customer. I have not tracked my performance over the past few years as accurately as I used to. But about 5 years ago, my cost per sale for Direct Mail was about $79.00. I know that amount has gone up drastically over the past few. Direct mail just isn't what it used to be. I still feel it is one of the best, if not the best way to get customers. But the old days of a 2% response rate are over and it's more like .5%.

As far as a formula, i don't see anything your doing wrong. Mailing 2 or 3 times is perfect. I try to get at least 4 mailings out each year to my "bread and butter" areas. I'll make those mailings very targeted. Only about 1000 names on that list. My big mailer in the spring is less targeted with approx. 10,000 names I mail to twice.

For example, since we offer kind od the same services... My 1000 piece maiiing list... I'll send one out in late February & late March advertising spring services. One in early june for Grub control, then one in late august for Core Aeration/seeding.

So hopefully this helps, and once you answer the above questions, maybe I can offer more. So let me know.

Bob
We do cover a HUGE area, it is approximately a radius of 20-30 miles. We currently have over 8000 customers that we service (weed control & fertilization, Plant health care, and Pest Control). The saturation in some areas is better than others, but overall our average is about 10-12 homes in a carrier route (approx 600 carrier routes). We have a fleet of 18 lawn technicians.

The amount that was mailed each year was around 300,000. Last year it actually dropped to closer to 200,000 because of the targeted mailings. Our response rate past 2 years have been around 1.3%. Last year our response dropped to .8%

I think several years ago they may have done 2 different campaigns through-out the year, but since then it has always only been the spring direct mail piece. Since I started with the company I have brought in several different advertising campaigns. I advertise on google & several other search engines & websites, craigslist, phone directories. I began putting out a monthly newsletter through email. There are many other forms of advertising, but I can't think of them right now. I am trying to increase the new customers through-out the year, not just focusing on them during the spring season. I am trying to focus on referrals since that is one of our largest sources other than the direct mailing.
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Old 10-01-2008, 09:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agrilawn View Post
I am trying to focus on referrals since that is one of our largest sources other than the direct mailing.
For referrals, I use this for my company. The postcard tears off and is postage paid so it simple for the customer. Every time we do a service this is left with the bill/invoice.

You figure, if you give out one to every customer only once, and get 50 sales (which is a very realistic number) your "cost per sale" is less than $20.

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Old 10-01-2008, 10:18 AM
agrilawn agrilawn is offline
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Originally Posted by Plan-It Graphics View Post
For referrals, I use this for my company. The postcard tears off and is postage paid so it simple for the customer. Every time we do a service this is left with the bill/invoice.

You figure, if you give out one to every customer only once, and get 50 sales (which is a very realistic number) your "cost per sale" is less than $20.

We have something similar. We leave them at every stop. Each time someone calls in saying we were referred to them, I send the referrer a post card to thank you for sending "so and so" to us. That way the referrer is awknowledged and knows we care. Once the person actually signs up for a program the referrer will receive $15 off their next application and their name entered into a monthly drawing.
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Old 10-01-2008, 01:20 PM
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Are you also using the clover-leaf marketing concept?

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Old 10-01-2008, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Are you also using the clover-leaf marketing concept?
We have used it in the past with success. This year we have not been able to use it. We has some bad ice storms come through late december, the cities around us put a ban on door to door sales due to the unlicensed contractors coming around trying to get jobs. Which includes placing door hangers and/or knocking. Each area requires a license for each person placing the door hangers. It can get very expensive. Towards the end of this year we are going to look into getting the required licenses for our sales staff, but pick our most saturated areas.
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