Direct mail is the lifeblood for marketing. Without it you will have no deals and thus no business. After numerous requests on the forums I have decided to write the ultimate guide that will help you design a successful marketing campaign, whether you are a real estate agent, land lord or rehabber. With that being said, lets dive into what it takes to create a successful marketing campaign from step A to Z.
Before anything else I must stress, the most important factor when it comes to marketing is to be consistent. To be consistent you need to design a marketing budget. Figure out what you can comfortably afford to spend every month on direct mail without fail. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you initially spend $1,500 a month, only to find 3 months in you can no longer afford to do so. By being consistent you will “touch” each prospect a certain amount of times through the year. By doing so you are creating brand awareness and keeping your company on top of their mind if they have a trigger event.
It all begins with having a quality list. Before you begin marketing you need to understand exactly what type of property you are looking for and mail to prospects that meet specific criteria. Something I like to call “laser focused shotgun marketing.” You are not just blanketing a zip code and hoping for the best, instead you are mailing to a large number of leads with specific criteria . Perhaps you are a landlord looking for properties in a certain zipcode that are 3/2/2s 1200-1500 sq ft and built after 1965. With the right list, you can do that. If you are looking for motivated sellers that need to sell at a discount you need to figure out what sorts of groups you will target whether its marketing to: probate, absentee-owner, preforeclosure, code violations, or driving for dollars when generating your list. Perhaps you are a realtor and want to announce your new listing to the neighborhood. It entirely depends on your goals as to what type of list you select and ultimately mail to. I pull my list in December and mail them for a whole year. Once December comes up again I pull a new list. However, if your criteria is the same or similar, you will still have overlap and many people will continue to receive mail from you, which is not a bad thing.
The message on your marketing piece is very important whether you are utilizing yellow letters or postcards. People need to be more willing to put their message out there and be accepting of it, don’t try to hide it, especially investors! You buy houses at a DISCOUNT for CASH and can offer a QUICK CLOSING in most cases (unless a title issue springs up or the seller requests a closing further out). There are NO Realtor commissions appraisals or any of that mess. Get that message to the right people and it has appeal, I promise you. People try to manipulate response rate using all sorts of tricks from variable data to handwritten fonts. Again, you want people to contact you for the right reason. Your marketing piece should do some upfront filtering for you. Some people on here talk about how you need to field 30-50 calls to get one deal. That’s ridiculous and its likely because they are not using a clear marketing message and consequently having to field more unqualified calls.
This is a metric that is often discussed at length in the forums. My personal thoughts: who cares about response rate? I would rather get 8 calls a month, 4 of which turn out to be deals. I have enough going on and the last thing I want is to be sorting through tons of unqualified leads. An 83% response rate isn’t meaningful or impressive if they are all unqualified and unmotivated leads. What would you rather have, an 83% response rate with a bunch of tire kickers that generates no deals, or a 2% response rate and 3 houses under contract? I think you know the answer to that.
Choosing your Marketing Piece
Personally I dislike Yellow Letters (YL) because they typically incentivize people to call for the wrong reason. The potential client is curious because they have what appears to be a genuinely authentic hand written letter. Furthermore, many yellow letters use a template such that you appear to be a person searching to buy a home. Again, this will produce many leads, but for the wrong reason, often unqualified. Postcards allow you to cast a wider net because they are much less expensive and easier to produce and outsource.
However, real estate is local, and YL may very well be worth using in your market. At some point you may want to perform a split test and see what produces for you. Some zip codes may be more sensitive to post card vs yellow letter even. The leads you are trying to generate will also hinge on which marketing piece you should use. If you are trying to do sub2 or lease option, YL may very well be the letter of choice as they generate the most call volume. However, for high equity motivated sellers I always use post cards. For probate leads you probably want to use professional white letters. Ultimately, YOU CANT CREATE MOTIVATION so quit trying to manipulate it. Again, we are working on the sellers time frame not yours. That’s why you continue to mail them through the year as you will read more about below.
The Marketing Snowball:
Direct mail marketing initially starts out rather slow. You may receive few, if any, calls your first mailing or two. The end goal is to market enough consistently on the front end that you are regularly generating leads on the back end. I like to call this the marketing snowball. Sadly after the first few mailings is when most investors quit. They don’t give the marketing snowball enough time to grow or nurture it by consistently mailing prospects every month. In the early stages of marketing things start rather slow; however, as you consistently begin to touch the same prospects through the year you will begin to build a critical mass. Once you have been mailing for a decent amount of time (6 months to a year) you will start generating leads regularly. You may find someone calling you about a house they want to sell from a post card you sent them over a year ago. Or perhaps someone that has no interest in selling you there home, but may give your post card to a friend who does (I have had this happen several times). You never know, so keep mailing.
Putting it All Together
Remember, as I noted earlier, the amount of mail you send out is completely dependent on your marketing budget and how much YOU are willing to spend for at least 6 months without getting a deal. Again, figure out how much you can COMFORTABLY spend every month. Let’s say that’s $1,000. Next choose your marketing piece. We will use post cards in this example. For printing and postage fulfillment its we will say its .40 per post card. If you’re using yellow letters it will probably be closer to $1 per a letter. Whatever marketing budget you decide upon, make sure you STICK to it. Come up with a budget for 1 year to 6 months and mail them rain, sleet or snow. Calls or no calls.
Here is how it looks in practice:
Your monthly budget / cost per marketing piece. Lets plug in our numbers.
$1,000 / .40 = 2,500 post cards you can send each month as per your BUDGET. If your budget is $250, who cares, spend that consistently and persistently and you will find deals eventually. And guess what, when you do you can put that money directly into your marketing budget and scale your business accordingly.
Personally, I like to form 3 groups for mailing: Groups 1, 2 and 3. Use list source or whatever you want to generate this.
- Group 1 = 2,500 unique leads (for example probate)
- Group 2 = 2,500 unique leads (for example pre foreclosures)
- Group 3 = 2,500 unique leads (for example code violations)
So that means you will need 7,500 unique leads sum total (Group 1 + 2 + 3) from your list generation service.
Mail each group on rotation:
- Group 1 – Jan
- Group 2 – Feb
- Group 3 – March
- Group 1 – April
- Group 2 – May
…etc. through the rest of the year rotating the list based on the amount of groups you have.
If you follow the above plan each group will be “touched” by your marketing piece 4 times through the year. This is critical. You are establishing an identity and the seller may not be ready to sell the 1st, 2nd or even 3rd time you contact them. However, as you “touch” them more often you will begin to see a higher yield in the amount of deals produced. Remember circumstances change through time ,that’s why you’re mailing them throughout the year.
Other popular mailing schedules are using 4 groups total for example:
- Group 1
- Group 2
- Group 3
- Group 4
The advantage to this method is you are casting a wider net and have a large number of prospects to market to. The disadvantage is they will only hear from you 3 times a year on rotation.
Another popular mailing schedule is to mail the same list every 6-8 weeks. The advantage to this approach is you will constantly be on your prospects mind and create brand awareness since you are marketing to them so often. The down side is, since you are mailing the same group every 6-8 weeks , the total amount of leads you will be leading will be much less. You won’t be able to cast as wide of a net.
It all comes down to personal preference on selecting a mailing schedule. What’s more important is being consistent with the mailing schedule whatever you decide upon.
You must be consistent with your marketing, don’t give up 3 months in, if you do you might as well not mailed anything at all. I hope you found some new ideas in this blog post that you can use to implement in your own business. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below and I will do my best to address them.