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Direct Mail Case Study

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Direct Mail Case Study

Post by SARubin »

This one comes from my personal archive. It's an abridged case study from a direct mail piece I did for a local house painter about 9 years ago.

Looking back on it now there's a few thing I would do different. But it got an 8% response rate on an EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) piece to only 500 residential addresses.

And in the real world, that ain't bad.

Anyway, this guy contacted me at the beginning of September wanting to fill up his winter schedule. That didn’t give us a whole lot of time before the New England winter came crashing in, but we did what we could to make it work.

I can't show you in this post what went on “behind the scenes” (it would take too long) but at least I can show you some of my notes and give you a basic run down of what happened…

September, 2012

I got a call from a house painter who says he wants to "fill up his schedule for the winter." (gosh, he makes it sound so easy)
So, I'm going to have a chat with him this weekend, and see if we can get something started.

Consulting with a local house painter

We spent just under an hour talking about what he wants to accomplish.
He wants to keep himself and 4 employees working this winter. (Winter is the slowest time of the year for house painters)

We have a few hurdles to get over...

First - he hasn't established a solid USP yet.

Second - he's not sure how far he wants to expand his territory.

There's a couple other minor issues we need to smooth out before we can make any progress.

Retainer paid -
Figuring out a USP

It took a little while but we're finally starting to narrow down a USP.

Trey sees himself as a craftsman, who values pride in a job well done.

Not an entirely "unique" position. But I think we can build on the "local guy" angle and make it work.

Also, he does mostly residential work and only wants to operate within 50 miles from his home base. So the local "hometown painter" angle is looking good.

NOTE: We don't have a lot of time here, so we're going with a "starter" USP. It will need to be refined and modified over time.

Figuring out the promotion

After a bit of deliberation, we've decided to go with a 4 week newspaper ad in the free weekly circular that gets delivered to every home in the city.

Followed by a direct mail campaign.
There's a couple reasons we decided to go this route.
But the main reason is because winter was just around the corner, and we didn't have a lot of time to "cut through all the clutter" of mass advertising that people are slammed with, everyday.

So we needed to go directly to our market and reach them where they live.

A lot of people think direct mail is too "old school." But when we need to reach people directly in their home or business, it's still one of the most effective tools we can use.

Crafting the campaign

4 week ad in the weekly circular. Make it bold so people recognize the name when they see it.

We're going with a 3 piece mailer.

It will have the main sales letter... a lift note... and a business card enclosed in a standard envelope. With a first class postage stamp. Personally addressed to recipient

NOTE: For the record, I owned a small home repair business for many years, so the research phase of this project was quicker than most projects. Mostly consisted of driving around a few neighborhoods and identifying the most likely buyers.


Weekly ad has been running for 2 weeks

The direct mailer is almost ready. We still need to make a couple revisions, and polish it up a bit. But what we have, looks pretty good.
We're going to send a test run to 500 addresses, all in the same general neighborhood. The one with the most owner/occupied homes, and as few rentals as possible.

Been 4 weeks. Time to mail

The finished product came out pretty good.

Flyer type sales letter – 2 sided coupon - business card.

Let's wait for the response numbers.

Below is a photocopy of the flyer and coupon. It was stuffed into a standard envelope with a first class postage stamp.
I blurred out the contact info in these pictures because my client wouldn’t want people calling him from all over the internet. And besides the contact info isn’t really important for the sake of this post.

This was the flyer printed on standard high quality paper

painterman flyer for sar-mktg.jpg

This was the 2 sided coupon printed on stiff card stock
painterman coupon for sar-mktg - 1.jpg

So there it is.

There's a few things I would do different today, like use both sides of the flyer for starters (lots of wasted real estate not being used there) and maybe include a guarantee in the offer.

But even as it was, it still got an 8% response rate, so nobody was complaining. In fact, here's a review he left me a couple weeks after it mailed...

Screenshot_2021-01-03 References – SARubin.png

Like I said, there's a few things I would do different today (heck, I hope I've gotten better after 9 years).

And I'm sure some copywriters would love to tear this piece apart with criticism (feel free to post a reply below)

But we can't argue with numbers, and the numbers said it worked.
A good marketer knows how to think like a marketer - A great marketer learns how to think like the customer...
SARubin - Direct Response Copywriter / Conversion Flow Specialist
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