By Mark DeFrancesco
The prospect of doing a single residential paint project and landing 3 to 4 more jobs just from being noticed in the neighborhood presents an extremely powerful marketing opportunity. When fully implemented, a proximity mailing program can produce a very high return on investment.
However, proximity campaigns can also be a complete flop if not executed properly. I find the greatest challenge most painters face when it comes to proximity mailing programs is simple: implementation. Most painters have a good idea of what to do but actually implementing the system is a major challenge when juggling all the other responsibilities of your business.
Below is a quick outline of the key components of a proximity program and some tips on how you can get started immediately.
Without a happy, raving-fan customer you really have no basis for a proximity campaign. Get a photo of your customer shaking your hand in front of the finished home. Get a brief written testimonial; 3 to 4 sentences is perfect. And of course, get the customer's permission to use their testimonial in your marketing materials.
Draft an Invitation Letter
The first direct mail piece should look very custom. It will be in an A8 envelope so that it looks like a birthday card or a fancy invitation. I use colored envelopes with a live first class stamp and a hand-written mailing address.
The piece includes a short letter explaining that you completed a successful project in the area (the photo and testimonial should be within the body of the letter. Offer to upgrade their paint with a full interior or exterior job, with a 27-day time limit on the offer and a golden ticket/business card that they can redeem.
Try an Oversized Postcard
This piece is a large postcard that basically reiterates the information from the invitation letter in a slightly different format. The postcard should mail one week after the invitation letter.
Send the Final Letter
The final letter looks like a personal hand-written note from the painting contractor. It again talks about serving the neighborhood, displays the testimonial and photo, and gives a final reminder that the offer is about to expire soon. This should be mailed one week after the oversized postcard.
Improve Visibility in the Neighborhood
This is a simple but often overlooked step. Put two yard signs in front of every current job. We use cheap poly bag signs and leave them behind. Ask past customers and upcoming customers from the neighborhood to display your sign and give them a discount for your services valid during your slow months.
Put yard signs at busy intersections on Friday afternoons, if this is acceptable in your jurisdiction.
Knock on doors and leave behind door hangers in between each of the direct mail pieces landing. This could be an opportunity for crew leaders or salespeople to earn extra commission.
How to Implement
Remember, the only thing that you will help your business is the actual implementation of this system. The painting contractor who has the most detailed and comprehensive proximity system in mind, but never implements, is at a disadvantage to their competitor who simply uses yard signs.
The key is to work with a printing company or advertising firm that can help you set up your proximity campaigns on autopilot.
This means you would provide the photo, address and testimonial, and they would turn around the actual mailing campaign automatically.
Of course, knocking on doors and putting up door hangers and signs will always rest on your shoulders but with some simple planning you can significantly improve your ROI for the mailed campaign.
The key is to set it and forget it. I recommend that contractors try to implement one proximity campaign per month and then track your results.
When you see the power of this system you will want to make it a regular part of your marketing arsenal.
Mark A. DeFrancesco is the president of MDF Painting & Power Washing and founder of PainterMarketingTool.com, a website design and marketing service for painting contractors by painting contractors. Learn more at www.PainterMarketingTool.com.