Business best practices: How to design an effective direct mail ad

Updated May 25, 2018
Homeowners receive multiple pieces of mail, so your goal is to stand out from the rest.Homeowners receive multiple pieces of mail, so your goal is to stand out from the rest.

Many lawn and landscape businesses can get stuck in a rut when they are designing direct mail advertisements, as they are used to seeing the same photos of lawn and landscape projects with green accents used throughout.

It is important to make sure you are not just following the trend but using the correct design elements to get the most ROI and consumer attention. In addition to design, ads should also implement a call to action to encourage customer engagement. It is also essential to include some form of digital interaction, especially with consumer technology usage at an all-time high.

Design elements

When creating a coupon or ad, the goal is to elicit a response from the consumer. Many design factors determine an ad’s success in capturing the attention of the consumer and triggering the desired response. There are several key design factors that can help appeal to consumers and ultimately increase ROI:

1. Color – This may seem like a simple task when designing for a lawn or landscape service, as green is an obvious choice, but colors have very impactful meanings and elicit emotion from consumers. Cool colors, such as blues, purples and greens, are often used in ads or coupons surrounding nature because they are calming, relaxing and more reserved.

It has been proven that specific colors also appeal to different demographics of customers. For example, men tend to heavily favor blue, while women are split between blue and purple. It has also been found that younger generations are more attracted to more vibrant colors while older generations stick to neutrals. Pay attention to these details – color is more important than you may have previously thought.

2. Imagery – Within one or two seconds of looking at an advertisement, a consumer should be able to recognize what you sell. While you have the freedom to creatively choose the images or service offerings you wish to highlight, graphics or illustrations should be easily identifiable and clearly communicate that you are a lawn and landscape company.

Additionally, a survey found that most mature consumers, fitting with the demographics of homeowners, like ads with a single image versus multiple images. Stick with something that is clean, clear, crisp and to the point.

3. Layout and text– The overall theme and layout of a coupon or ad are just as important as the written information about your services. The layout should be clear and communicate the message to readers both fast and effectively.

The combination of color, graphics, photos, text, headlines and the usage of space are all important elements that will determine the success of your ad. Be sure to use the space effectively by evenly dispersing text and images throughout the coupon to avoid a chaotic or clustered layout that is difficult to read.

Call to action

After the design elements of your ad are finalized, it’s time to position an enticing offer to persuade members of the community to call or visit you. Consumers are more likely to respond positively to a direct mail ad when the offer includes the word “free” or a dollar amount they will save rather than offering a percentage off.

This provides a tangible dollar amount off for them to reference and see exact savings. For example, if you are looking to entice new customers, an ad stating “$50 off your first lawn care service” provides a clear visual representation of savings they will receive.

Digital interaction

Direct mail is a powerful marketing tool on its own but when paired with a digital aspect, it can result in an even greater impact. Providing your consumers with the ability to respond to the ad either by phone, in person or through digital means will help increase interaction.

Digital elements of ads can include digital coupons and QR codes, which will facilitate customer interaction and engagement with your brand. It is important to utilize both print and digital coupons with customers because they each have different benefits for your brand. A print coupon can provide higher ROI while digital coupons are easier to distribute and more convenient for the user. To execute a successful coupon, it is important to maintain a healthy balance on both platforms.

By utilizing design elements and including a call to action with digital interaction options, your ads will elicit optimal responses from consumers and help lead your business to greater success.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Mike Tinz. Tinz is vice president of franchise sales at Money Mailer and has more than 20 years of experience within the direct marketing industry. Before joining Money Mailer in 2012, Tinz held positions as ValPak’s Vice President of Sales and has also managed sales teams in territories across the country. To learn more about Money Mailer, please visit

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