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3 Direct Mail Mistakes Most Contractors Make

Posted December 21, 2015 by EnerBank USA


Although it seems like the world has forgotten about direct mail, it’s still an effective tool for certain industries to gain new customers.

Contractors can benefit from direct mail efforts that reach older individuals who aren’t particularly active online. This is a great market for contractors because right now, older individuals are the ones with money to spend on home improvement projects. The baby boomers still spend more on remodeling than any other generation.

When putting together a direct mail campaign, there are a lot of potential pitfalls. These pitfalls can lead to low conversion rates—anywhere between .05 and 2 percent—and result in the campaign losing money and leading to a low return on investment (ROI).

When thinking about your direct mail campaign, remember the 40/40/20 rule. This time tested ratio drives a high ROI. Here is the breakdown:

  • 40 percent of your direct mail piece’s impact comes from sending it to the right people.
  • 40 percent of your direct mail piece’s impact comes from the value of the offer.
  • 20 percent of its impact comes from the creative design and text of the piece.

Where many direct mail campaigns go wrong is not following the 40/40/20 rule. But if this guideline isn’t making you feel confident in your marketing abilities just yet, don’t fret. We’ve outlined the most common ways contractors break the rules so you know exactly what to avoid when setting up your direct mail campaign.

1. Not Defining Your Audience

The one thing you can do to make your direct mail campaign completely unsuccessful is mail to too broad an audience. Not only will it be more expensive, but more importantly you are giving the same offer to a random group of people who may not have the same needs or may not need your offer at all.

Before you even start the hunt for addresses, think about who your ideal customer is that will reply to your offer. Narrow the target audience down based upon specific demographic and behavioral criteria

Once you define your audience, you can find address lists that coincide with that type of customer. It’s a critical first step in the success of your  your direct mail campaign.

2. Mailing Everyone the Same Offer Without Getting Feedback

This is another crucial step that many contractors overlook. Just because you think you have a great offer doesn’t mean your ideal customers respond to it. Do you even know what kind of offer is the most appealing? Do you know the service they desire enough to actually pick up the phone or walk in?

You can find out by testing different offers with small segments of your list. Don’t bombard them with a resume of every service you offer, but pick something specific that customers need or want. Do your customers need a kitchen remodel or are they interested in an addition? Would they prefer a free inspection or discounted blueprints?

Put together three or four different offers and mail them out to small segments of your list. Carefully track which offer brings in the most qualified leads and sales, and once you find your winner after a few weeks, mail that piece out to your entire list.

When you segment your list and fine tune your offer, you won’t waste time and money trying to sell customers something they aren’t interested in finding out more about, and purchasing.

3. You Design Your Direct Mail Piece Without Consultation

Remember, you are a home improvement  contractor and not a copywriter or graphic designer. You wouldn’t let a graphic designer build a bathroom, and vice versa. If you don’t have any copywriting or design experience, find someone who does to put together your mailing piece.

Even if you have design experience and feel comfortable writing your own piece, make sure someone else proofreads and critiques it before you produce and mail it.


Direct mail can be an effective way for contractors to increase leads and sales. Like any marketing tactic, you need a well-developed plan and work with the right internal or external professionals to get the job done right





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