Making the most of direct mail campaigns

December 9, 2016 -  By
The owner of DC Freeman got the jobs he wanted by targeting high-end clients with a new marketing piece.

The owner of DC Freeman got the jobs he wanted by targeting high-end clients with a new marketing piece.

How one business owner landed larger, higher profile jobs with direct mail.

After 30 years of serving the same client demographic—upper-middle-class residential—Dave Freeman, owner of DC Freeman, based in Millburn, N.J., says he felt “stuck” in a certain niche. With referrals being what he calls his “bread and butter,” Freeman was challenged to find a way to climb into a higher socioeconomic bracket to generate better referrals.

Having had a few truly wealthy clients in the mix over the years, Freeman knew that’s where he could get the “best bang for his buck” in terms of both how much he can charge and the level to which he can take his creativity. He decided to target his marketing straight to these clients instead of sending out the same old mailers and coupons he had in the past. So, Freeman sought out a professional graphic designer to create a high-end trifold brochure that communicated his company’s message and was also “great eye candy,” he says.

“My average job probably checks in at about $15,000 to $25,000, but I was shooting for four to five $50,000-plus jobs with this effort,” Freeman says.

Of course, a high-quality marketing piece was no small investment. The designer charged $5,000 to $6,000 per brainstorming and production round, and there were a total of three rounds. At that price, it was imperative that the investment was worthwhile, Freeman says.

After creating the promotional piece, Freeman worked with a mailing list company to distribute it. He chose a radius around his work area and mailed his pamphlet to 10,000 owners of homes worth $5 million dollars or more. He wanted to start the campaign when people are “dreaming of the end of winter,” he says. Ultimately, the direct mailers went out in March, April and June. He hit the same list several times because “you never know who is bringing in the mail each month.”

In the end, Freeman got 30 calls and five jobs from the mailing and two of those clients have already recommended him to a friend. He says it’s a good start. The key, Freeman says, was being prepared for the meetings he landed.

“I used the mailings to get my foot in the door, but it was showing up to the meetings well-prepared that really seemed to engender the confidence for these people to hire me,” Freeman says. “While listening is always my No. 1 endeavor in initial meetings, I really spent some time figuring out what I wanted to project in return. This is something I’d not always thought about to the extent I should have.”

Photo: DC Freeman

Photo: DC Freeman

To communicate the message he really wanted to, Freeman says he spent a lot of time thinking about infomercials and how they use psychology to sell an audience that they “know so well.” His advice to others looking to work up to higher end clientele is to consider what motivates people in their area. He says it all comes down to targeting the demographic and truly knowing your client.

“This really seems to be pushing me in the direction I’d like to go,” Freeman adds. “It’s not magic. Like any other new endeavor, it’s going to take time. But it has certainly paid off.”

From the calls he’s gotten so far, Freeman says he’s recognized that he needs to “tweak some of the verbiage” in his mailer, and he plans to do that in the upcoming off season.

He adds: “You can bet I’ll be sending out another round of pamphlets next spring.”

Photo: DC Freeman

About the Author:

Payton is a freelance writer with eight years of experience writing about the landscape industry.

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