Seller Marketing: The Direct Mail Fail
Back in April, I wrote a post about using direct mail and door knocking to acquire more distressed properties (at the time I was buying exclusively at the auction and off the MLS). In it, I promised to keep BiggerPockets readers updated on my progress with these campaigns. Well, so far, it’s not going well. While I’ve scored a few small victories with the door knocking (more on that at the end of the post) the direct mail campaign has been a complete failure.
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Why do I consider it a failure? Because I sent out over 5,000 letters, got 18 responses and just 1 deal (a short sale that may never get accepted by the bank). Here’s a breakdown of the list:
- Approximately 3,000 letters mailed to people that own their homes free and clear.
- Approximately 2,400 letters mailed to people that bought their homes in 2006 but are not in foreclosure.
By now you may be thinking – why didn’t I just mail letters to homeowners in foreclosure? After all, they’re motivated right? Well, I figured in a big city like Phoenix with over 14,000 active foreclosures they’re already getting tons of mail from Realtors, investors and bankruptcy attorneys. Why give these homeowners more paper to recycle?
With free and clear homeowners at least there are no banks involved. And for those that bought in 2006 but aren’t in foreclosure – well, they’re presumably underwater and may consider walking away via short sale. If the right investor comes along (me) they may take action. The best response I got was from the free and clear list of homeowners. I received 10 calls. Unfortunately, none of them were very motivated to sell. The 2006-homeowner list net 8 calls and 1 deal.
I hired Michael Quarles at Yellow Letter Mail to write, stamp and mail my letters. And let me say that him and his team were amazing – affordable, prompt and responsive. Their yellow letters look just like someone actually put pen to paper, on the page and envelope. In no way do I think they’re to blame for the disappointing response rate.
I have a few theories on why the campaign was ineffective. It could be that there weren’t enough motivated homeowners on these mailing lists. Maybe I outsmarted myself. Or, perhaps I didn’t communicate my message well enough in the body of the letter. Regardless, I think it may be more effective to send letters to people that need to sell (i.e. homeowners in foreclosure, absentee homeowners).
As for the door knocking, both my business partner Manny and I haven’t closed a deal yet, but we’re getting close. We’ve made contact with several prospects and in the end we may be their only option to foreclosure. I’m convinced that in this day and age of social and electronic media a good old fashion face-to-face encounter is the most effective way to find a profitable deal.