Direct mail is stirring up the advertising world lately, and for good reason — study after study shows that it’s one of the most successful lead generation machines available on the market today. One recent study found that, across the board, people view offline ads more favorably than those served online — and have for years.1 Other studies concur and show that direct mail is more memorable than online ads.2

Direct mail may seem “old school,” but several recent technology upgrades have brought this marketing standby into the 21st Century, with all the bells and whistles.

So, without further ado, here are my top three ways to bring in more customers and revenue for your car washing business using direct mail.

Target the Most Receptive Car Owners to Avoid Wasting Money

While everyone should be regularly washing their car, not everyone does. One of direct mail’s biggest benefits is the ability to micro target nearby people based on specific qualifying characteristics — this ensures you don’t waste your time and money marketing to people who have zero interest in your services.

Certain car owners are more likely to use a car wash and detail service. For example, someone with a car model less than five years old probably wants to keep it in pristine condition. On the other hand, an exotic or classic car collector may only let qualified professionals care for their prized possession.

If you cater to a certain type of car owner or see patterns in your customer base, you can specifically target that person and people like them with direct mail.

If you want to target a particular group of car owners — like those with models from 2018-2021 or European car owners with models from 2010-2018 — a consumer mailing list will target those car owners living near your location. You can choose from an endless list of characteristics and demographics, like car brands, model years, age of the owner, whether they have children, how old those children might be, and more.

The only downside is that targeting this precise may come at a premium. You’ll pay slightly more per record the more specifications you add on, but you’ll see some savings by narrowing that target market down and reducing postage overall.

Suppose you generally see all makes and models rolling through. In that case, it probably makes more sense to target nearby areas with an Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) or Resident-Occupant mailing list. These mailing lists emphasize saturation over targeting, so the postage for each piece is lower, offering some savings.

A good choice if you want to reach a lot of people.

Coordinate Direct Mail with Online Ads to Maximize Your Impact

Omnichannel marketing campaigns — those that appear on multiple marketing channels (like Facebook, Google, your mail box) simultaneously — are one of the best ways local businesses can stay in front of their target audience affordably.

Consistent exposure across several channels not only builds credibility but also helps keep your business top-of-mind when someone thinks, “Wow, I really need to wash my car.”

Narrowing down which channels to use can be daunting, though. Small businesses will get the most bang for their buck by focusing on the most widely-used platforms — Google, Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, and YouTube.

Integrating these channels with direct mail is a powerful marketing tactic — by stacking the offline impact of direct mail with affordable online follow-up ads, you’re able to piggyback off that first offline impression and continue that effect at more affordable digital rates.

Here’s how it works: your postcard reaches the mailboxes of your target market. Those who are interested will probably visit your website. After leaving your website, they’ll start to see follow-up ads across the internet. They’ll visit Facebook and Instagram and see one of your ads there. The next day, they might check their Gmail account and see your ad atop their inbox or your banner ad on a YouTube video.

If it sounds overwhelming, keep in mind that they’re being served thousands of other ads at the same time. The effect is more subtle in practice than it might sound here.

But here’s the crux: each repeated exposure to your business increases the chance they’ll choose you the next time their car needs to be washed. They may not be ready to pull up when they first receive your postcard, but by continuing to reach them with digital ads, you’re stacking the odds in your favor that they’ll eventually choose you when the time does come.

Digital ads can be effective on their own, but using them in conjunction with direct mail helps focus your advertising dollar on those most likely to have a positive view of your services and who have already expressed some interest by visiting your website.

Program a Set-It-and-Forget-It Direct Mail Campaign that Saves You Time and Money

Digital marketing isn’t the only advertising method with fancy automated tricks anymore. Direct mail has rapidly evolved into a high-tech marketing weapon.

You can program an entire campaign to run on auto pilot in an afternoon, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to what type of campaign you can run. Here are just a few ideas:

• Send everyone who signs up for a loyalty program a postcard that arrives in the mail a week later, thanking them for joining and offering a free detail service after 10 washes.

• If someone visits your website, send a follow-up postcard with a coupon for money off their next wash or 10 percent off a full detail.

• Send seasonal reminders and holiday wishes to those who have joined your loyalty program, or mail them details about a referral program a few months after they join.

Set discounts to expire 30 days after the recipient receives the card. A 30-day redemption period creates enough urgency to get them in, but gives them enough time to return at their leisure.

Of course, customer-cultivating campaigns like these depend on collecting customer information. If you aren’t doing that yet, creating a loyalty program is a good way to collect e-mail addresses.

A direct mail company can then use your e-mail data to build a mailing list for your direct mail campaign. And from there, like I said, the sky’s the limit!

If this seems like a lot of work, ask yourself if you would rather nurture the relationship between you and your regulars at a relatively low price versus sending out a massive seasonal mailing blast to your entire area where many postcards may be wasted on those who might not have cars. I know which I would choose.

You may be thinking, “Can’t I just send them an e-mail?” You definitely can, and it’s a viable alternative, but you’re taking a gamble by using e-mails to build a loyalty program. Direct mail has a distinct deliverability advantage over e-mail; a data-driven study showed that up to 35 percent of e-mails never get opened.3

The last time I checked, mailboxes don’t have a spam folder!

If you’re curious about what a car wash campaign would look like, you can request free car wash and detailing postcard samples at

1. “Media Reactions 2021”. Kantar, 2021,

2. “A Bias for Action — The Neuroscience behind the Response-Driving Power of Direct Mail.” Canada Post, Canada Post Corporation, 31 July 2015,


3. Kryzhanovska, Anastasia, “35% Of Emails Are Left Unread: A Data-Driven Analysis of Email Use.” Mailbird, 30 Oct. 2020,

Joy Gendusa is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, keynote speaker and philanthropist. With only a phone, a computer, and postcards (no funding of any kind!), Joy grew her company, PostcardMania, from a small startup into an industry leader that generated over $64 million in 2020 and currently employs 315 people in the Tampa Bay, FL area. Connect with Joy by e-mailing