Creating an Offer Prospects Can’t Refuse

Mike Dauer of Real Green Systems provides tips to lawn care operators so they can create more effective direct mail offers.

Effective direct mailers have a clear “call to action”. They tell prospective customers what you do, what they’ll get, how much it costs, and what they need to do if they want to purchase your service. Pretty straightforward, right? It’s amazing, though, how many lawn care operators fail to put these common-sense pieces together.

“You have three seconds to get a prospect’s attention,” says Mike Dauer of Real Green Systems. “That’s why it’s so important that there’s a good offer which grabs attention. A pretty picture and menu of your services is not enough. You need a very clear call to action.”

What Are You Offering?

A lot of lawn care operators are hesitant to “give their services away” by offering too much of a discount. This is a valid concern, but can also leave you stuck in the mud.

You can offer an add-on service for “FREE” if they sign up for your complete six-application program; the add-on service could be a grub control ($119 value) or foundation insect control ($59 value), for example. You want this to be a service you can do at the time of a regular application.

You always want to have a disclaimer on the bottom, such as “Up to 8,000 square feet” or “Call Office for details”. Don’t list the disclaimer directly beneath the offer. You want to have the prospect call the office. This is why you are sending out the direct mailer in the first place: It creates a call!

When Does the Offer Run Out?

An expiration date helps incite the prospect to respond, or at least hang the mailer on his or her refrigerator. You want a typical expiration date to be 30 to 45 days from the time the prospect receives the mailer. In some cases 20 days will work.

Here’s an example of a good call to action: “Call today … offer expires 9-30-10.” You need to have the prospect act now and hold onto the mailer. Be careful with this, though, and don’t forget to mail it on or after the expiration date. Timing is everything.

What Should the Prospect Do?

If the prospect is moved by your mail and wants to inquire about your services, he or she needs specific instruction on what to do next. Make sure the following information is easy to find on your mailer:

  • Phone number to call
  • Website to go to
  • Email address to respond to
  • Business reply card

Give the prospect as many ways to respond as possible.

Make sure the phone is answered professionally. If this is a spring mailing, have the phone covered from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. We see many great marketing campaigns fail because nobody answers the phone. Don’t think customers are going to leave voice mails and wait for you to call them back. Answer the phone!

Website has to be on the mailer. People want more information on your company and demand the ability to “shop” 24/7. This is especially true of the younger generation. More and more customers want to order service online and pay bills online. This trend is going to keep growing. Make sure your website is up-to-date and provides the ability for customer interaction.

Email address is good for someone who has questions or wants to say, “I want to hire you, so just do it.”

Business Reply cards, believe it or not, are still widely used by the older generation. If you have an older group in your marketing area, make sure to use a BRC.

Real Green Systems has been in business for over 25 years. The company specializes in developing software for the lawn care, pest control, landscape and maintenance industries.