Print ads that don’t SUCK!

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It is easy to think that, in this digital age, print is not a necessary or profitable method of advertising. This is so far from the truth it makes me mad. If it is done correctly, print advertising can be a backbone of your advertising campaign. Print ads help to legitimize your social media marketing. When customers are able to connect online ads with tangible paper ads they can hold in their hands, they are more likely to place their trust in and make a purchase from said business.

So what are the rules for print mailers? How do you make eye catching ads that will not just get thrown right in the trash?  

Rule #1: Less is more

When trying to connect with a new client base, it can be tempting to place every bit of information about your company on your mail piece. This can, however, ensure that your mailer will wind up in the recycle bin.  When going through the mail, most people give only a few seconds of attention to each piece before deciding to keep or toss it. Think of an elevator pitch. This rapid-fire sales technique is crafted to begin and end within the time it takes to complete an elevator ride. With direct mail you have even less time to make an impression. No one is going to give a second glance to an 8.5 x 5.5 inch mailer crammed with 9 point font copy.

Keep the information at a minimum when crafting your mailer. A few short seconds are all you have to capture the attention of a potential client, so cut to the chase and avoid information overload! Make sure that you have some key things on your direct mailers. I suggest the following:

  • Trust symbols such as Yelp 5 star, Angies list, BBB, even Facebook and Twitter
  • Years you have been in business- this helps to establish you in the customer’s mind.
  • Multiple phone numbers with the area codes of the target zone. – I recommend owning your own call tracking numbers so that you are able to keep tabs on what advertising is working hardest for you. Do not ever use a call tracking number from a company as they own all the information given in those calls. CallCap is a great company, and one that I use in my business. (covered more in my book)
  • Guarantees such as “We beat the competition’s pricing, period!” and “Lifetime warranty”- These statements will make you more reputable to the customer

Rule #2: Follow the 40/40/20 formula

Mailbox.svg40 percent for the right customer list, 40 percent for value and 20 percent for design. This is a formula that will keep your direct mailers bringing in the business. Knowing the zones that your mailer goes out to is extremely important. Every mailer divides the areas it covers into zones. Knowing these will benefit your business more than you can imagine. Do some research on the zones and find out what areas will be the most profitable for you.  For my company, it was best for us to start in higher income areas.  Focusing our mailer efforts on these areas helped to thrust our business forward much faster.

While you don’t want to overload the customer with information about your business, you do want to promote your company as the value leader in your service area.  This is the second 40 percent in our formula. The value of your company is something you need to determine.  This can be anything from the lowest price for a service to having licensed and insured technicians.  Tailor the focus of your “value” to what is important in your market.  In the Phoenix area there are many companies that come and go very quickly.  As a long standing company with licensed, bonded and insured technicians, our business is widely known for being trustworthy.  This is one of the most effective values we have when pursuing new customers.  Obviously, good prices will always catch the eye, but for most customers, quality work will win out every time.

Finally, the 20 percent for design. Most direct mailer companies have their own graphic artists that design the mailers. Before you sign on with anyone, go through the mailers and find the ones that stand out the most. Use those as examples to build yours. I find it most profitable to have three of our most commonly used coupons on the front of the ad and our two highest ticket coupons on the back.

#3: Stay committed.

Beginning a relationship with a direct mail company is a precious thing. I suggest staying in the mailer for a minimum of 3 months. It is necessary to take the time to really see how your ad is being responded to. If, after 3 months, there is not a good return on your investment, by all means get out. When you are researching direct mail options, look for the ones that your competition is advertising with. A little bit of competition is a good sign. If they are seeing success with a particular mailer, chances are you will as well.  On the other hand, if there are too many from your niche, don’t bother going with that company.  Too much competition can water down your business.

Another thing I suggest with direct mailer companies, always work directly with the owner of the franchise. Every company owner has particular clients they work with. Push yourself into that group. You will get better pricing, more attention and a better experience overall. Invite them out to lunch and let them know why your company should be featured. Tell them of your value. Sell them your company. You want them to believe in your company just as much as you do. At the end of the day, however, never take the first offer. Let them chase you a little. Play coy. Tell them you have a few other things on the table and you’ll get back to them. They will drop their prices. If you have the ability, hold off signing with them for a few months. Chances are your patience will be paid back with a cut in cost.
Direct mailers are an important part of any home service business’ advertising. Not only will they help you to target your primary customer demographic, but they will spread your name much faster and farther than anything else. In the end, know what is working for you, stay committed and the investment will pay out!

As a leading authority on branding and market recognition, Tommy aims to help other service businesses reach their full potential.

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