When Linus Bruno opened A Bee Limousine in Cincinnati five years ago, he knew from experience that sending out direct-mailings was the most cost-efficient way to get the word out about his services. As an entrepreneur of many trades — wine store owner, plastic packaging salesman, car wash and detail shop owner — Bruno didn’t want his company’s literature simply thrown into an envelope and sent bulk mail, which the majority of small businesses do today. He wanted to personalize the mailings by addressing them to individuals.
Says Bruno, “We send it to the right people — the decision-makers. We personalize it because we want to prompt them to pick up the phone and call us. My goal with direct mail is to get that initial contact.”
And considering that Bruno says this year he has received more future bookings than ever before, his personalized marketing efforts are definitely paying off.
The company’s bridal postcard (weddings compromise about 70% of A Bee’s business) is designed to look like a framed photo featuring a bride and vintage vehicle with the tag line, “Make your wedding day picture perfect.” The mailer’s soft, feminine look is eye-catching for any bride-to-be. The postcard is mailed to leads generated through bridal Web sites and it is also distributed at bridal expos. As an aside, Bruno recently invited nine bridal consultants to ride around in A Bee’s limousines to visit various vendors, such as florists and tuxedo stores, and to spread the word about his company. At each stop, A Bee’s bridal postcards were dropped off for customers to take. “It’s very important to develop these types of business relationships for referrals,” says Bruno.
Since A Bee’s first vehicle was a 175-inch Lincoln Navigator, and Bruno’s friend owns a tuxedo store, his business naturally progressed into catering to the wedding and prom markets. But Bruno soon realized he needed another type of vehicle to offset the cost of running his company during the week so he purchased a sedan to attract corporate work. He knew soft and feminine wouldn’t fly with these prospective clients, so he hired a marketing company to help develop a concept. They chose the colors red, black and white, which were Bruno’s former high school colors. “Combined, the colors offer a crisp and clean eye-catching look,” he says.
The front of the corporate-themed mailers contain clever phrases such as “We Encourage The Use Of Remote Airport Parking” and “After An Exhausting Day And A Cramped Flight Home What A Treat To Remember Your Car Is Parked In Remote Lot Q, Row TT, Space 241. And Will Cost You 80 Bucks.” The company’s bold “STOP TRAFFIC” postcard, which was mailed to corporate clients on a list that Bruno obtained, also doubles as a thank you card. All of A Bee’s chauffeurs are responsible for mailing these to each of their customers thanking them for letting him be part of their celebration.
“We are in the customer-service business first,” says Bruno, “and we provide a safe, reliable environment for our customers.”
What’s In A Name? With its eye-catching colors and clever phrases, A Bee Limousine received this year’s Marketing Award for Best Direct-Mail Pieces. When asked about his company’s unusual name, owner Linus Bruno says although he previously owned Bee Clean Car Wash, the idea behind A Bee Limousine was a play on words referring to the B-Line Express. It gets you from point A to point B quickly and safely, he says. Unfortunately for Bruno, “some potential clients think it’s the letters AB so they have a hard time finding us in the Yellow Pages or on the Internet,” he adds.