Westwood, N.J.: “I will be putting out a wave of direct mailings in a highly wealthy area. My question is: What should I include in the letter? How should I word it? Any ideas are greatly appreciated.”

Central Point, Ore.: “I’d consider a postcard with a coupon or some sort of special to get their interest.”

Ocean County, N.J.: “This would be my advice, also. Check out Quantum Digital for help with your mailing. It was a little bit of a pain in the beginning, but once I got it going, they were very helpful, and my mailing turned out great.”

Westwood, N.J.: “Do I need a permit to do direct mailing?”

Central Point, Ore.: “I’ve never heard of someone required to have a permit to send postcards in the mail.”

Ocean County, N.J.: “I do not believe there is any kind of permit that you would need to get. At least I hope not, I’ve been doing it without any kind of permit.”

Central Point, Ore.: “Does Quantum have a Web site?”

Ocean County, N.J.: “Yes sir, http://www.quantumdigital.com/.”

Central Point, Ore.: “What did this cost and for how many mailings? Did they provide the mailing list as well?”

Ocean County, N.J.: “I provided my own list, and I believe I hit about 2,100 homes, and I believe it cost around $900. It worked out well for me. The postage was what drove the price up.”

Rhode Island: “What was your return on that?”

Ocean County, N.J.: “I got about 20-plus calls and about five very good accounts and some one-time job type of things. I was just kind of testing the waters with the direct mailing last year. I think it was worth it, and I might be interested in doing a huge one soon. We’ll see how things go.”

Pennsylvania: “Direct mailing is a very good way to advertise. We have been doing it for about three years now. We are actually pulling out of the phone books because they are so useless and directing $1,400 per month into other forms of advertising. The biggest thing is to make sure you are hitting your target market with the direct mail. We have compiled a list of about 2,000 that we target. We use VistaPrint, provide them with our list and they do the rest, about $850 per run. We have tracked this return from this form of marketing and about 30 percent of our gross comes from direct mailing. Hope this helps.”

Virginia: “Where do you get your lists from? I have several large neighborhoods that I would like to target, but how do I get all the addresses and names?”

Ocean County, N.J.: “This might sound ridiculous, but I picked out the areas that I wanted to cover and made my own lists. In the winter, I drove around and would write down the street names and the numbers. When I would get home, I would enter them into a database. It was kind of a pain in the a**, but it wasn’t too bad.”

Pennsylvania: “I did this, as well. It allows us to target the neighborhoods exactly. A lot of the ’hoods we send to are new, and therefore, are not in the maps yet, so that’s why we can’t do that.”

Central Point, Ore.: “That sounds like a lot of work. Here in my town, the county has a Web site where I can type in a street name, and it will show me every tax lot with addresses on the street and surrounding streets, makes things a whole lot easier. I’ve also heard you can go to a title company and they will provide you with a neighborhood search with mailing labels.”

Ocean County, N.J.: “It was a lot of work, but I was bored in the winter anyway. I’m not sure if a title agency would give you that info for free, but thanks for the push in the right direction. I’ll look into it.”

Central Point, Ore.: “Yeah, I’m not sure if they would or not, I have a real estate agent friend who told me that. It might be only something they do for them, not sure.”

Ocean County, N.J.: “That might be what it is, because my wife used to work at a title agency, and I don’t believe they did that, because if I heard anything about it, I would have been all over it.”

Central Jersey: “I did the same thing. Generated a list of about 1,000 homes that we mail to two to three times between March and April. This year, I also kept a note of how many calls, where they were from, etc. I’m going to use that to take some areas off the list and increase direct mailings to others.

“Also got our bulk mailing permit from the USPS, which helps a great deal on the postage costs. I use a tri-fold, two-sided brochure, and the print shop prints the return address and my bulk postage info for me. Only thing I have to do is apply the mailing labels.

“As far as what to include, go down to a local bookstore, and pick up a few marketing books, and make sure they cover direct mail marketing. Lots of helpful tips and tricks to get people to call, from what words to use to when to mail.”

Ocean County, N.J.: “What was the process of getting your USPS bulk mailing permit? Was it expensive? I would love to get some info on this.”

Central Jersey: “Process wasn’t that bad at all. Go to your local post office (make sure they do bulk mailing) and ask to speak with the postmaster. Explain to him (or her) what you are trying to accomplish and they should help you out. There is a one-time fee (I think $150) and another annual fee ($100 or so, I believe) that you are required to pay. If my memory serves me correctly, my first year including both fees. I saved something like 50 bucks and I only did about 1,600 mailings. I’ve increased my mailings to around 2,000, and I definitely save over paying first-class postage.

“FYI, biggest pain was the mailing labels you need to place in the postal service bins. You need to call someone in the Edison office and have them made up and delivered to you (no extra cost). Allow three to four weeks for this.

“Keep in mind you also have to sort per zip code, and there are minimum mailings. Like I said, you need to take a little closer look to see if it makes sense. Oh, and they don’t accept credit cards for payment, [only] cash or check.”

“In Your Own Words” is contributed from the lawn care and landscape forum at www.lawnsite.com. Visit them, and join in the discussions.