Companies That Use Direct Mail

admin 11/23/2021

You can achieve a higher ROI. Most companies set up online ads hoping to see better ROI because. Lots of companies, big and small, advertise with direct mail — from IKEA to Victoria’s Secret to local dentists and mom-and-pop restaurants.

Direct mail has been the most consistent marketing tool for generating quality leads of homeowners interested in lawn and landscape services. Not only does direct mail put your sales message into targeted homes, the sales generated from our mailers are more likely to remain long-term customers. The initial cost of direct mail can be higher than some other advertising media and in order to effectively test a direct mail campaign you will generally need to mail at least 10,000 brochures. At a cost of 50 cents per piece (artwork, list, lettershop, printing, postage, freight combined), you can spend over $5,000.00. However, the ROI (return on investment) of direct mail is generally better than other sources because you can target specific homeowners most likely to buy your service.

The List – There is an old direct mail marketing proverb that reads: “If you mail the right offer to the right people, you can mail it on toilet paper and it will work.” While every component of direct mail is important - including the quality of the paper - this old adage does point out that selecting the right people to mail is paramount. The best offer – Free Lawn Service Forever, – with the best creative – A DVD produced by George Lucas of Industrial Light and Magic, - won’t generate lawn care leads if you mail to people who have no lawn.

Create you own prospect file – You probably already have such a file or at least started on one. Every customer and former customer and every estimate you’ve ever done should be in a data base. People do move over time and the name you have for that address will eventually be incorrect, but the house will generally be around longer than you are. Also you can be pretty sure that whoever lives in that home is a prospect. They have a lawn and somebody at that address either purchased or thought about purchasing your service in the past. Add additional addresses to the data base by capturing the addresses of neighbors and other homes and streets in the neighborhood. Finish one zip and then start on another. Drive up and down streets looking at lawns and homes and writing down street names and street numbers when you have a weather day that prohibits you from doing anything else. Use a Criss Cross or Haines directory to start with and add or delete addresses as you go. Again, the addresses will probably outlast you, so once you’ve keyed them all into a data base the only updates you’ll have to make are new homes.

Rent targeted SFDU (Single Family Dwelling Units) Lists – You can rent (or buy) lists from lots of sources and pay anywhere from almost nothing to more than a dollar a name. In purchasing lists, it’s almost always true that you get what you pay for. FREE lists are generally worth nothing. Most small companies rent SFDU lists targeted by Household Income or Home Value. This is fine as far as it goes and for smaller mailings may be the most cost-effective method. However, not all homeowners with similar home values and incomes are equal lawn care or landscape service prospects. Targeted Marketing. Yes Marketing has developed and uses statistical computer regression models that weigh multiple variables found to be predictive of homeowner buying behaviors in order to target prospects most likely to buy lawn and landscape services.

Rent New Resident Lists – Nowadays, new homeowners are not the ideal prospect they once were. However, this still can be a profitable list for you if enough new movers are available in your market to offset the minimum charges of mailing such a list. Yes Marketing can generally avoid minimum charges by selecting new residents for multiple companies at the same time

The Offer - Another old direct mail marketing proverb goes like this: “If you want people to respond to your mailing campaign, make them an offer only a moron could refuse.” You could mail an offer to every homeowner in your market with the offer “FREE LAWN CARE for ONE FULL YEAR.” Chances are good that you’d get a tremendous response. It would not be profitable, but you’d get a great response. Instead consider offers that are both compelling and can still be profitable like a FREE LIME treatment where you add product to an already scheduled visit, or FREE AERATION at the end of the year where no product costs are incurred.

The Creative – At Yes Marketing we test and retest everything whenever possible. We conduct focus groups to examine all aspects of different direct mail brochures and packages – some ours, some not – to see which photos capture the eyes of consumers; what headlines they are attracted to; which formats they pick up first. We develop and design brochures with all of this research in mind. We assume nothing. If it seems like a number of our stock brochures have pictures of kids and dogs on lawns, that’s because those were the photos that grabbed the attention most often of the homeowners we surveyed. Many of these photos we took and can’t be found or used through any other source. If it seems like we use a lot of lists and text with bullets in our copy, that’s because our research has shown it to be more readable and therefore read more often. If we encapsulate the main message in headlines and ask for the order on every page, it is because it works.

Some other things to consider when using direct mail:

  • There are 2 times a year when direct mail has the best chance to work for lawn care providers: Spring and Fall.

  • Select zip codes and areas where you wish to increase your market share.

  • When using a self-mailer with a BRC you will need to secure a Business Reply Mail (BRM) permit from the United States Postal Service (USPS) prior to beginning art production. With this permit, you'll also receive a unique Zip + 4 for the BRM. The BRM is the postage paid post card, attached to the mailer that prospects can use to contact you for an estimate. Most people will contact you by phone or the internet instead of sending the card, but studies have shown that not having the BRM reduces response rates.

  • Once the copy and artwork is in place, you'll receive an Adobe PDF proof document of your mailer. When you receive this you'll have the opportunity to make changes / corrections.

  • Upon approval of the final artwork, your self-mailer, post card or envelope package will go to press along with other lawn care companies from across the US and Canada. You don't have to worry about a competitor's mailer showing up in the same mail box as your mailer. We only accept one client per one geographic area. In some large metropolitan areas, we may create a 2nd self mailer that is completely different in text and graphics but may be the same size.

  • After printing and binding is complete, the self-mailers are sent to the mailing house where the names and addresses are applied. It is then handed over to the USPS for distribution, and if the quantity is sufficient to create enough postage discounts to offset freight costs, we ship your mail directly to your local Bulk Mail Center (BMC) or Sectional Center Facility (SCF). It should take anywhere from 10 - 21 days for mail to be delivered to homes. (Average is about 12 days from acceptance by the USPS).

Type “What is direct mail marketing?” into a search engine, and you’ll get all kinds of results. They range from brief definitions of direct mail to tips on design and choosing the right mailing list. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at direct mail marketing. This includes what it is, who uses it, what types of direct mail there are, how it ends up in the mailbox, and what factors determine the cost. Our goal is to give you a solid understanding of what direct mail marketing is and how it works.

Let’s get started.


What is direct mail marketing? Direct mail marketing is the making and sending of advertising materials through the mail. It includes audience research, list building, and more.

What is direct mail? Direct mail is advertising mail not requested by the recipient. Direct mail comes in a variety of formats and usually includes an offer.

Who Uses Direct Mail Marketing?

Businesses and organizations from a variety of industries use direct mail marketing. Restaurants, grocery stores, and auto repair shops send menus, coupons and promotions. Politicians, charities, and nonprofit groups send donation letters, brochures, and campaign postcards. Even tech companies use direct mail marketing to reach their prospects. Any business that sells a product or service is a good candidate for a direct mail campaign.

Does Direct Mail Work?

It does! The upward trend in response rates over the years shows direct mail’s effectiveness. According to the 2018 DMA Response Rate Report, direct mail got an impressive 9% (house lists) and 5% (prospect lists). Direct mail response rates are higher than all forms of digital advertising – combined. You can learn more about how awesome direct mail is in our Is Direct Mail Dead? article and infographic.

How to Send Direct Mail

There are two main ways to send direct mail: shared mail and standalone mail. Shared mail is when advertisers share space with other businesses in the same mail piece. Standalone mail is when advertising is its own mail piece.

Shared Mail

Shared mail (aka marriage mail) is direct mail marketing where advertisers share space. Predefined mailing areas make a separate mailing list unnecessary. The advertisers split the cost of postage. Both of these make shared mail very cost-efficient, sometimes as low as a few cents per household.

Examples of shared mail include Valpak, RedPlum, and Clipper Magazine.

There are several size and placement options available for your ads in a shared mail piece. You could choose a full-page ad in a circular, or a flyer in an envelope with other offers.


  • Low cost
  • Broad reach since they’re distributed to everyone in a particular area


  • Your ad is with dozens of other ads
  • You’re likely to appear alongside your direct competitors
  • No personalization options
  • Lower response rates
  • Sent to predefined mailing areas on set schedules
  • No targeting options

Standalone Mail

Standalone mail is anything not grouped with other advertisements. Standalone costs more than shared mail because you’re paying for everything. Most of the time, standalone mail requires you to provide or buy your mailing list.

Standalone mail is how you send direct mail postcards. You can also use it to send self-mailers and envelope mailers. There are endless possibilities for the format and presentation of standalone direct mail. As long as you meet certain USPS size requirements, the only limit to how creative you can be is your budget. Mail Shark sends standalone mail only.


  • One-on-one communication with the recipient
  • Countless format and presentation options
  • Target audiences based on demographics, geography, psychographics, etc.
  • Personalize for each recipient
  • Higher response rates
  • Can have broad reach or target a specific audience


  • More expensive than shared mail

Top 10 Direct Mail Companies

Types of Direct Mail

There are six types of direct mail (also called mail pieces, products, formats, or mailers). But what are mailers? A mailer is any piece of direct mail, no matter what shape or size it is. Below are some of the most common direct mail formats and some popular use cases.

Direct Mail Postcards

Postcards are a low cost option and the most common form of direct mail. You can choose from a few sizes.

Best For:

  • Appointment reminders
  • Thank you cards
  • Prospecting
  • Promotions

Direct Mail Letters

Envelopes help protect the contents of your letters from prying eyes. Because there is more than one piece, they cost more than postcards or folded self-mailers. There are various options for envelope color, size, and material.

Best For:

  • Confidential mail
  • Mail with more than one component (letter, brochure, order forms, etc.)

List Of Companies That Use Direct Mail


Self-mailers (brochures, menus, etc.) don’t need an envelope, so they’re a low-cost option. They’re made from a single folded sheet of paper or card stock and are sometimes tabbed or glued to keep closed.

Best For:

  • Explaining products and services in depth
  • Offering lots of coupons

Catalogs and Booklets

Catalogs and booklets are multi-page mail pieces with a bound edge. They’re available in a variety of sizes and are almost never sent in an envelope.

Best For:

  • Showcasing a lot of products and marketing content
  • Informational packets

Circulars, Inserts, and Wraps

Circulars, inserts, and wraps are an efficient and cost-effective marketing format. They’re printed on lightweight paper. Inserts and wraps appear inside or around larger pieces like newspapers.

Best For:

  • Distributing print coupons
  • Product and sales advertisements

Parcels and Dimensional Mailers

Companies That Use Direct Mail

Parcels and dimensional mailers aren’t flat like postcards or letters. Their design and size help you grab your prospects’ attention, but they can be costly.

Best For:

  • Mailing to a small group of high-value prospects

Direct Mail Mailing Lists

Now you know what direct mail is and what it looks like, but how does it end up in people’s mailboxes? Shared mail is self-explanatory. No mailing list required. Choose from your provider’s available, pre-defined mailing areas.

For standalone mail you need to decide who to mail to, and then get a mailing list. We’ll go over the two main types of mailing lists below.

Once you’ve decided who to mail to, you’ll have a better idea of the delivery options available to you. While you can send direct mail through FedEx or UPS, most goes through the USPS. But you might use FedEx or UPS if you’re overnighting a parcel or dimensional mailer.

Mailing List Types

You’ll need to decide who you want to reach before sending your campaigns. We’ve included the USPS delivery options available based on the mailing list type below.

Saturation Mailing Lists

If you want to reach most of the people in a single geographic area, choose a saturation mailing list. With this type of mailing list you’ll mail to entire ZIP codes or carrier routes. Saturation mailing lists have few targeting options, so the cost is low. Saturation mailings should be in walk sequence and meet the 90/75 rule, which helps keep the costs low. You can rent a saturation mailing list from a broker or list provider.

Benefits of Saturation Mailing Lists
  • Allows for the lowest postage rates
  • Ideal for businesses that offer goods and services most people need
  • Use median demographics for carrier routes for your mailing
  • Perfect for drawing large crowds and announcing events, new locations, or products
USPS Delivery Options for Saturation Mailing
  • Marketing Mail (Standard Mail)
  • Every Door Direct Mail® (EDDM®)

Targeted Mailing Lists

If you want to reach specific demographics, choose a targeted mailing list. These lists can be filtered by geographic, demographic, and psychographic selects, among others. Because a targeted list uses selects to find the right audience, it costs more than a saturation list. You can rent a targeted mailing list from a broker or list provider. You can also build and maintain your own house mailing list.

Benefits of Targeted Mailing Lists

Companies That Use Direct Mail

  • Ability to segment your list by almost any criteria imaginable
  • Reaches a more specific, qualified audience
  • Better potential response rates than using a saturation list for the same marketing

Direct Mail Marketing Companies

USPS Delivery Options for Targeted Mailing
  • First-Class
  • Priority Mail
  • Marketing Mail (Standard Mail)
Pro Tip

Pricing out each component of your campaign can be time-consuming and frustrating. A direct mail company can work with you to choose your pieces, design and print them, and help you get a mailing list. A good company will also keep the total cost within your budget.

Direct mail companies near me

Direct Mail Costs

Are you wondering how much direct mail costs? As you can see, there are a lot of factors that go into direct mail marketing that can influence the price you pay. Here’s a quick overview of the main costs of direct mail marketing:

  • Mailing List: Saturation lists cost the least. If you need a very specific audience, you’ll want to choose a targeted list. The more selects or filters you add to a targeted list, the more expensive it gets.
  • Design: The price you pay for your design can vary depending on a variety of factors. If you create your own design in-house, you could save some money. Having someone else do your design often comes with a fee, but some providers include it for free.
  • Printing: Print costs vary based on the quantity and complexity of what you’re printing. The smaller and simpler the format, the lower the cost to print your pieces. Adding variable data printing (VDP) and high-end materials or finishes increases your printing costs.
  • Postage: Several factors determine your final postage rate. Marketing Mail and EDDM®bulk postage rates are lower than First-Class and Priority mail. Your format and mailing list type will determine which of these are options.
Direct mail companies near me

Lower Your Postage Costs with Discounts

Mail Service Companies

One way to lower your costs is through postage discounts. The discounts you can get depend on how much prep work you do for the post office. Whenever you save the post office time or money, you get a postage discount. Actions you can take to receive postage discounts include:

  • Presorting, or grouping, your mail together by ZIP code
  • Standardizing and verifying deliverable addresses using CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) certification software
  • Running your list through the National Change of Address (NCOA) database
  • Formatting your mail pieces to meet USPS machinability standards
  • Including an Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB) to meet USPS automation requirements

Mail Shark can provide these services for you to make sure you get the lowest possible postage rates.

What’s Next?

You’re well on your way to understanding direct mail marketing. If you’d like to learn more about direct mail, check out these other resources:

Or, if you’d like to discuss direct mail with one of our experts, give us a call or fill out the contact form. We’ll walk you through how direct mail can benefit your business.