Market Your Business by Targeted Direct Mail

by Clare Liptak, Retired Somerset County Agricultural Agent

Imagine that marketing by cable TV and newspapers is like using a shotgun; targeted direct mail is like using a rifle. It's less wasteful because you can focus on the neighborhoods where your best customers live. It's flexible and produces results that are measurable. A closer proximity of clients increases profits.

Six direct mail letters are provided below. I wrote them for a marketing IPM talk held several years ago, and they've been used successfully by many landscapers since then. Those landscapers got more of the work described in the letters.

Sample Marketing Letters to Potential IPM Customers

Still, the important thing is not the letters themselves, but that you study the letters along with this article and learn to write equally good letters for your own business. For example, use the letter about mulch because you have lots of mulch to sell. If you can plant flower gardens or landscapes that attract beneficial insects, use that letter. The reader will understand the value of such a planting, but not how to design the plantings without you. Notice that the letters acknowledge the investment that the homeowner has made in their property, and that the landscape firm offers services that can protect that investment. Also, each letter ends with what is called an "action close" such as "I'll call you next week to set up an appointment." Don't invite them to call, because they probably won't.

Some other tips:

  • Address the letter to a person, not to "occupant."
  • Most of the letters have the main offer, or an attention getting question, set off by what's called a Johnson box, in this case, by a line of asterisks.
  • Repeat your offer in the PS at the bottom of the page. Marketing experts say that people read the PS first, before the rest of the letter.
  • Most companies can generate better mailing lists than they can buy, but secretaries have to ask for names and addresses of callers for lists.
  • Other topics for marketing letters include Fall is for Planting, landscaping around a pool, planting the landscape in stages.

But in each case your letter should clearly emphasize the benefits the client will attain working with you rather than another landscape firm.

Considering that some bulk mail is never delivered, send your marketing letters first class, of course, and use a postage stamp, which is more personal than using a postage meter. Remember that people want to buy from people they know, or feel that they know.

Mail your letters early in the week and follow up with your potential customer about 9 or 10 days later. Positive responses can approach 50% if you follow-up your letter with a call; the usual response rate with no follow-up is 1 to 3%.

And if all of this (individually addressed, postage stamped, first class mail) is too time consuming or expensive, consider making these extra efforts on the smaller, but most profitable part of your customer base, your existing clients. It's much easier to sell to them than it is to get new customers.

Plant & Pest Advisory, Landscape, Nursery & Turf edition, March 15, 2012

  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences