direct mailers


just wondering everyone's opinion...

my firm is trying to market itself better (residential), and most of the problem seems to be people just don't know our name.  there's a big firm in town on a highly trafficked road that seems to get all the business, and besides the fact that its very GOOD work, they have a really nice, big sign.  everyone i talk to outside of architecture in my town seems to know who they are, but nobody's heard of us (or anyone else without an office on a major road).  i would imagine they would check them out first if they ever considered using an architect.

so direct mail (aka JUNK MAIL) isn't pretty, but i was thinking if we mailed out advertisements to people that met our client demographic by acquiring some lists, would it work?  its basically just putting the name out there, in the back of people's heads, attached to some really nice portfolio pictures.

has anyone had any luck with this?  i, for one, never get junk mail from architects.  but i do get junk mail from a lot of local businesses and i'd say its effective.


Sep 25, 12 10:32 pm

Probably more expensive than it sounds at first.  If you have a target demographic then you'll probably need to pay somebody to get a good list of leads for that demographic.  And even then you'd have to do it repeatedly before your advert would have any chance of sinking in with the casual viewer.  And you might want to consider hiring a professional advertising designer to, at the very least, make sure that you are presenting a clear, consisten message.  Those costs all add up.

Although it might gain you some peace of mind with respect to improving your name recognition, I'm skeptical it would produce enough clients to actually be worthwhile.


Sep 26, 12 10:01 am

Direct mailings aren't TOO expensive. But agree that you would have to do it more than once or have 3-6 additional name-getting-out-there campaigns going over a period of a year or more, otherwise, you are wasting your time and money. Even then, you can't expect any results. Getting the word out is best done by word of mouth, aka referrals - it is hardest to do, but it is basically free and brings the most realistic and well intentioned clients.

Sep 26, 12 10:41 am

Do you patronize any of the shitty American-Chinese fast food places, nail salons, or florists that send YOU junk mail?

Seems odd that you'd think it would be successful in reverse....

Sep 26, 12 4:07 pm

i love those american-chinese fast food places

Sep 26, 12 4:21 pm

Melbourne practice Andrew Maynard had some success with fliers I believe in the early days. I'm sure that careful targeting of a certain demographic, with a key message in a thoughtful way would probably pay off.

Sep 26, 12 4:55 pm

@appleseed.  actually, i just tried out a new shitty american-chinese place because of one last week.  i will be going again soon.

i mean, you guys basically have the same concerns i've had.  it isn't just a one-and-done kind of thing, its got to be a campaign, and it can get expensive.  i'm a fairly competent graphic designer (i know, every architect thinks that) but creating some simple mailers that send a clear message can't be that hard.  i mean, i've seen some pretty bad ones, and they've still worked on me.

we do really good work and get referrals almost always through that, but i can't help but think name recognition counts for something.  it can't hurt to commit to it for a year or so.  i mean, even if we get one project out of it to cover costs, we've got the exposure.

if its just pretty pictures with a logo, the work should speak for itself, right?  the harder ones would be retail... thats our other "thing" and i have no idea how we'd market for that besides word of mouth.  

Sep 26, 12 6:55 pm

Call it an elitist sentiment if you want, but there's no way I'd consider hiring professional services if solicited via mail fliers. Frankly, I'd perceive the stigma attached to direct mailing to do more damage than good.

Perhaps you guys are coming from a different context and this is a more appropriate approach. After all, those things work on some people (as you pointed out-)

But then, maybe your flier will just end up in the junk mail pile with the $5 lobster buffet and DUI attorney specials.....

Sep 26, 12 8:41 pm

Due: I doubt your competition is successful because they're located on a major road with a big sign. That's probably the result of being successful - not the cause. They're probably successful because the firm's principals have put themselves in positions where they can establish personal relationships with potential clients.

IMHO, direct mail is likely to be a colossal waste of your time and money. Any responses you do receive are likely to be from very unsophisticated individuals who don't understand what you do - fielding their inquiries will waste even more of your time and is unlikely to lead to profitable, or enjoyable, engagements.

Sep 26, 12 11:24 pm

been thinking about it and you guys are probably right.  i mean, those are all the reasons why we're not doing it.  the question's been raised though, so it didn't think it would hurt to gather some opinions.  thanks.

Sep 26, 12 11:31 pm

I've gotten a dentist and an accountant from these kind of flyers, both of whom are good professionals. They aren't THAT bad of an idea. Depends on your town and who you are too.

Sep 27, 12 1:04 pm

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