3 Reasons Your Direct-Mail Results Stink

Originally published
Originally published: 12/1/2011

And how to make fast fixes for better results.

Contrary to what’s been proven over and over by thousands of HVACR contractors, many business owners in this industry don’t believe postcard marketing can produce new customers, leads, and revenue.

But that perception is dead wrong. 

Obviously, success will vary, but postcard marketing does work, and it will work for you if you do it correctly. Here are three common reasons why your postcard marketing might not be successful — yet:

  1. You don’t target your ideal market.
  2. You don’t communicate clearly.
  3. You give up.

If you take care of the points above, you will have a change of heart — and revenue. The key is to find the marketing channel that works the best for your HVACR business. However, if you commit the sins listed, even the best marketing falls flat. That’s just the way it goes.

So let’s talk about how to avoid them. For each problem, I’ll lay out how to solve it with postcard marketing.

1. You don’t target your ideal market.

Solution: Purchase a targeted mailing list based on the demographics of your current best customers.

For every business, there is a smaller segment of the greater population that is more likely to need, want, or respond to that business’ marketing. For HVACR businesses, the people most likely to respond to you are homeowners and business owners. To find an even more. specific market, you can assess your current customer list to get most-common income level and home/business value. The key is to find exactly who is most likely to call you, and then purchase a mailing list of those people

2. You don’t communicate clearly.

Solution: Use proven copywriting and design techniques to deliver your message with clarity.

If your prospect doesn’t grasp the point of your postcard in the first fraction of a second, you’ve lost them. That means you need to read through your copy and take out anything that would slow down the reader’s understanding of the message. Be clear and to-the-point. Then, match that text with an image that supports the message.

Here are 10 elements that every direct-mail piece should have:

  • A clear, bold headline. On the envelope or front of the mailer, there should be one central message. The best way to achieve this is with a bold, clear headline that’s not cluttered up with other text. A good guideline is to have the headline fill up at least 15% of the front of the mailer.
  • A graphic that supports the message. The graphic should be easy to understand and add to the message the headline is trying to convey. For instance, if you are trying to schedule a furnace check before colder weather sets in, a picture of someone shivering and bun- dled up while trying to watch T.V. or read would send an urgent “do it now” message.
  • Color that pops. Make the headline and other text stand out by using a color that stands out from the background color. When you look at the card, ask yourself, “What do I see first?” If your answer isn’t the headline, you might want to tweak the colors.
  • Subheads that lead into text. If you have a couple of paragraphs of text with no lead in, there’s nothing to entice people to actually read the copy. A subhead will give people a place to start reading. If you have only a 100 words or so, you may be able to get away with it, but if the text gets any longer than that, the average reader will want to have some guideposts along the way.
  • Benefits, benefits, benefits. One of the biggest errors people make in advertising is stating features rather than benefits. For example, never assume recipients know what benefit can be derived from investing in higher-efficiency equipment. Let them know how their monthly energy bill will go down.
  • The offer. An offer is always a good idea and should represent a specific reason to call now, such as “limited supply” or “energy rates are climbing.”
  • Your company name and logo. Although this needs to be on the mailer, it shouldn’t overshadow the offer. Customers care most about what you can do for them.
  • Call to action. Tell prospects exactly what you want them to do. “Call today for more information” and “See us online” are two of the most commonly desired actions. Provide your name, phone number, and website address directly following the call to action. Whatever you ask prospects to do, give them the means to do it easily.
  • Return address. A return address ensures you’ll get returned mail from the post office and sends a message that you’re an established professional. People feel better knowing the company they’re dealing with has an actual location.

3. You give up

Solution: Don’t!

Think about postcards in terms of television commercials. Do you ever see a commercial just once? The answer is no, because even if you have, you wouldn’t remember it! Repetition is the key to establishing yourself in the mind of the prospect, building credibility, and being remembered. If you aren’t committed to marketing, it just won’t work for you, so don’t bother. However, if you are committed, go ahead and plan for more business!

Once you’ve corrected these mistakes, there is nothing standing between you and a significant increase in new customers. So what are you waiting for?

Joy Gendusa is the owner and CEO of direct mail marketing firm, PostcardMania, a full-service postcard-marketing company that also provides website and landing-page design and development, email marketing, and full marketing evaluations. For more information, call 1-800-628-1804 or visit

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