10 Commandments for Your 2014 Direct Mail Campaigns

by | BiggerPockets.com

A new year is the perfect opportunity to reassess your business growth goals and recommit yourself to marketing practices that will help you achieve them. With that in mind, I want to give you a really useful piece of content you can reference throughout the year to improve your direct mail campaigns.

And Thus I Give You… The 10 Direct Mail Commandments!

 1.     Thou Shalt Have a Unique Selling Proposition

A USP is a simple phrase that clearly explains why your business is a better choice than any of your competitors. By identifying and designating your USP, you give yourself a crystal clear benefit that becomes the focal point of all of your marketing, including your direct mail campaigns.

2.     Thou Shalt Plan Thy Marketing Schedule

You want your mailing campaigns to go out consistently and on time, because consistency is critical to direct mail success. I highly recommend taking an hour and marking on your calendar every holiday/sale/event you want to promote in 2014. After you have done this, go back 6 weeks from promotion date and set a reminder to order the postcards. This pre-planning allows you to establish an effective schedule and remove the stress that comes with trying to throw a campaign together at the last minute.

 3.     Thou Shalt Target Thy Ideal Prospects

Do you know who your ideal prospect is? What does he/she do for a living? For that matter, are they a he or a she? Are they married? Do they have kids? What do they do for fun? Or if you are a B2B investor: What are the SIC codes for your ideal prospects? How much revenue do they generate annually? How many employees do they have? Where are they located?

You want to create a complete profile of your “ideal prospect” that includes even minute details about their work and personal lives. Of course, this is a hypothetical person or business, but the clarity you gain by working up this profile helps you intuitively understand what kind of marketing message your prospects need to hear. This is useful in SO many circumstances, not the least of which is choosing a mailing list and postcard design.

 4.     Thou Shalt Be Benefit-Focused

When it comes to marketing copywriting, you can focus on benefits or features. “Closes guaranteed in 7 days” is a feature. “Be stress-free and mortgage-free by next week” is a benefit. Focusing on features makes people think you’re trying to impress them. Focusing on benefits helps people understand how your product or service improves their lives. To sum up this commandment: Benefits sell; features do not.

 5.     Thou Shalt Not Make False Promises

Don’t exaggerate the benefits of your product or service. Don’t claim to have “the best customer experience in the universe.” Don’t say that you return calls within 24 hours if all you do is email them back with a time next week that they can call. When writing the copy for your postcard, be clear about what you’ll do for your prospects, how it benefits their lives, and what your commitments are once they choose to you. Hype and unmet-expectations simply do not reflect well on your business.

 6.     Thou Shalt Always Call Prospects to Action

The goal of a postcard is to have prospects read and then take action. To accomplish this, you MUST spell out exactly what they need to do next. You cannot assume they will figure out what the next step is. People are just too busy to take the initiative. If you don’t tell them exactly what to do, it is highly unlikely that they will end up doing it. A Call to Action (CTA) can be as simple as, “Call today for a FREE mortgage review and market assessment.” Short and to the point.

 7.     Thou Shalt Be Consistent with Thy Mailings

Repetition is key to direct mail marketing success. For most postcard campaigns, my company’s research shows that 3-5 mailings is ideal. For example, if you order postcards to promote a Labor Day special, you want recipients to receive that card at least three times before the sale. This ensures that you produce an optimal Return on Investment (ROI). On top of that campaign consistency, you want to be consistent in terms of how often you mail postcards throughout the year. That is where pre-planning becomes critical.

 8.     Thou Shalt Follow Up with All Leads

Following up with prospects through channels like email and phone does not directly impact your direct mail response necessarily, but it absolutely affects your ROI. The more leads you close, the more revenue you make off of your campaign. The more revenue you rake in from direct mail, the easier it is to be consistent.

 9.     Thou Shalt Build Relationships with Thy Current Customers

If an individual has a relationship with you already, it’s likely that he/she is a prime target for further marketing. Don’t neglect all of that work you did to turn them into a client! Mailing postcards to your current customers can build a strong relationship that turns one-time customers into a great source of referrals or maybe even an investor!

 10.Thou Shalt Prepare for a GREAT Year

Lastly, get ready to have you best year ever! If you abide by the nine previous commandments, that is the end-goal. Obviously, success doesn’t come overnight. However, by steadily employing these bedrock direct mail principles, you will see consistent growth every month – and that really adds up!

Best of luck to you in 2014! (But if you abide by the commandments, you may not need LUCK!)

About Author

Joy Gendusa (G+) is the founder and CEO of PostcardMania, a firm that specializes in direct mail marketing, and the author of the 95-Step Total Marketing Checklist. She used postcards to grow PostcardMania from almost nothing—just a computer—to a $20 million enterprise in less than a decade.


  1. Hi Joy, Cute use of the 10 commandments. Targeting the right recipients is the tough nut to get right. I recently read that the response rate to NOD, 30-60-90 lists has dropped in certain cities. Probably due to the banks willingness to do workouts and shortsales and rising equity allowing agent sales. DMC disussion into 2014 needs to discuss what list selection is actually working!

    Be unique, I heard one expert say target purchases in 2008-2011, not because someone who just bought a house is a good candidate to sell it’s that few investors are mailing to that group. I think he had the target market half right… Mailing to a group no one else is mailing to PLUS who are likely to have real estate they NEED to sell.
    There’s alot of want to sell some time folks. Who in 2014 are the NEED to sell groups?
    – probate, this will always work, but they call back over a long period of time as the family gets done bickering over sell vs let some member move in etc. Then taxes come due…
    – job move/divorce/etc and the house is vacant. Kent Clothier’s find motivated seller vacant list is reported to be working here. I own this service but haven’t mailed enough to have statistics.
    – high equity. I don’t see this group being an easy sell with inventory so low, they know they are better off selling with an agent. Few will consider a higher selling price via owner financing, but that’s my view.

    What’s folks success / statistics from your mailings?

    • Thanks for the good feedback, Curt, and for providing some useful advice yourself!

      In addition to more feedback from other folks, I’d be interested to hear if any investors on here have started an affiliateship or business partnership with a law firm. As these lawyers deal with probate and divorce cases so often, they’re in close contact with the target, need-to-sell market. Have to be careful of the legalities, of course, but it could be a golden opportunity!

  2. This is exactly what the doctor ordered. usually I shoot out 10 yellow letter a day, probably 8 to 10 times a month. Get 10 to 15 calls and leave it at that. This is no way to run a business. You have to have a set plan like you had mentioned above. I was talking to a friend of mine about this yesterday. We are where we are in our businesses because a lack of a plan and no consistent effort. They we wonder why we are frustrated and financially struggling. 2014 will be a year for me to focus on rental property. Which will allow me to sustain some consistency in my finances.

  3. Hi Joy, great article. I was actually googling some ideas for postcards for real estate investors, which led me to another article of yours here on BP. (I’m a contributor here as well….duh, so I should have searched here first!) Perfect timing for your input, as I’m adjusting my marketing consistencies.

  4. John Hamilton

    Hi Joy,

    Great article! I’ve now taken the wholesaler approach to my investment strategies. Frankly, because it’s the only thing I can afford at this time.
    I actually took classes on wholesale back in 2010, but it never really clicked until a few days ago that I can do this.
    Now, I’m getting quotes on lists, mailers, and postage. I’m letting the professionals take me out for the first time around. They do most everything, I provide my little input, and mailers go out. I figured for the first time, it’s 1,000 folks, at 3 months using postcards. Maybe I’ll mix it up and do yellow letters and handwritten along with the postcards. I would need 3 phones 🙂 in order to track my split-mailers.

    Later on, I may end up hiring someone to scour the county records, record the information needed, and deal with the incoming calls, as I work full-time. I wonder which option will costs me more or have more benefit. Of course, I would be talking to and negotiating with the owners. Then, contacting interested buyers to flip to.

    I know it’s not easy and definitely not free, but the benefits sure work out better for successful wholesalers. Lots of phone calls, lots of rejection, lots of seemingly time wasted, but having that 2% of deals come through makes that month a little more special.

    So many skills to adapt and gain that edge. Better hit the bricks!

  5. Jody Schnurrenberger

    Thanks for writing this and know that at least sometimes, it’s still being read. 😀

    I have a question. When a prospect calls, then what? Do I need to be able to give them a number off the top of my head without seeing the property? Can you give me some tips and information on handling the calls?

    Thanks again for writing this! 😀

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