The Ultimate Guide to Using Direct Mail Advertising to Grow Your Real Estate Business

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Last week I received a car key in my mailbox. 

The key looked different… it had no grooves in the side, just smooth.

KeyFurthermore, the key was attached to a  brightly colored postcard that claimed “You’ve Won!”

Did it have my attention?

Of course!

I had to continue reading, despite the fact that I knew this was just another piece of junk mail. Looking over the card I saw that a local car dealership was giving away a free car to someone who would come down and test drive a car this weekend. (Reading the small print I see that the odds of winning the car was 1/3,000,000 but the odds of winning a free cup of coffee was 2,999,999/3,000,000. I wonder which prize I won…)

So why did the dealership send me this colorful postcard and key?

Simple: this is direct mail marketing, and it’s used by millions of marketers all across the world to sell products. From cars, to insurance, to mortgages, to electric fireplaces and more, direct mail marketing is a proven technique for growing your business.

Today we are going to dive deep into the topic of direct mail marketing and focus specifically on how you can use direct mail to get new leads, expand your brand, and grow your business.  Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to Direct Mail Marketing!

Advertising with Mailbox

Direct Mail… What is it and How Does it Work?

Direct mail is the practice of sending mail to a targeted list of people with the assumption that a very small percentage will respond to the campaign. Chances are you receive a lot of direct mail every single day in your mail box at home and just consider it “junk mail” and toss it in the trash (like the postcard with the key I mentioned above.)

Have you ever wondered why they send this junk mail? Because a small percentage will end up responding to the mail and a small percentage of those will end up buying the product – making their campaign worth the expense. At its core, direct mail marketing is about one thing: playing the odds.  Let me give you an example of what I mean:

Wholesaler Kevin is looking to find real estate properties he can get under contract for cheap. However, he knows that the MLS is drying up and all the good deals are being bid up too quickly, forcing him to look elsewhere for deals. So Kevin turns to direct mail marketing to find deals.

  • Kevin sends out 1,000 letters to a targeted audience, costing him $1,000.
  • Out of those 1,000 letters, 5% of the people call back Kevin (1,000 x 5% = 50 phone calls).
  • Of those 50 phone calls, Kevin filters out the duds, negotiates, and gets the contract on 2% of them (1 deal).
  • Kevin then sells the contract to a local house flipper for $5,000.

As you can see in the example above, it cost Kevin $1,000 upfront to fund his direct mail campaign but he was able to make $5,000 in revenue from that campaign, netting him a $4,000 profit.

Hopefully you can see the potential here. What if Kevin took that $4,000 profit and put it back into a direct mail campaign? Using the same percentages as above:

  • Kevin sends out 4,000 more letters to a targeted audience, costing him $4,000.
  • Out of those 4,000 letters, 5% of the people call back Kevin (4,000 x 5% = 200 phone calls)
  • Of those 200 phone calls, Kevin filters out the duds, negotiates, and gets the contract on 2% of them (4 houses).
  • Kevin then sells the contracts to local house flippers for $5,000 profit on EACH, for revenue of $20,000!

Kevin now turned that $4,000 into $20,000 using direct mail marketing. So what if Kevin used that $20,000 and put it into another direct mail campaign? How much could he make? I’ll leave that to you to do the numbers! (hint… it’s six figures!)

Direct mail marketing is exciting because it’s scalable, which means the more you put in, the more you get out (within reason, which we’ll talk about in a bit.)  If you can get those numbers to work – you can just keep pumping money into that ATM and keep getting more money out of it, assuming you have a business system in place to handle those leads, which we’ll also talk about in a bit.

As I have said many times: math doesn’t lie.  It’s a universal language, which means IF you get a direct mail letter printed and sent for $1, and IF you can get 5% of people to call about your letter and IF you can get 2% of those calls to sell you a great deal and IF you can make $5,000 per wholesale deal – you WILL succeed at the rates seen in the example above.

However, that’s a lot of “IFs”. Four of them to be exact. Those four metrics are:

  1. Cost Per Direct Mailed Item
  2. Call Response Rate
  3. Contract Conversion Rate
  4. Wholesale Fee

Therefore, the job of a direct mail marketer is to master those four IFs and ensure you are meeting the minimum to make you succeed. What if only 1% of people call about your letter, and what if only 1% of them accept your offer? The numbers look very different (go ahead … try it out and see.) What if your mail costs drop to $.50 per piece of mail? What if it doubles to $2? What if you only want to make $2,000 per wholesale deal? What if you want to make $10,000?

It’s tough to say what a “typical” rate is on any of those things. Some marketers claim a 10% phone call response rate, where others claim 1% or less. Some claim to sign a contract with half of the appointments they set, while others only close 1/10.  These numbers are going to vary wildly depending on numerous factors including:

  • What list you are mailing to (we’ll talk about lists in a bit.)
  • What your direct mail says
  • How good of a negotiator you are
  • The price range you are looking in
  • That market conditions
  • The cost of your marketing
  • …and a lot more.

The fact is: you don’t know what your conversion rates are going to be until you try. This is why I recommend starting small and building larger as you begin to “crack the code” on what works in your market.

Furthemore, having more of one metric and less of another is common. For example, if you send to a particularly targeted list (which we’ll talk about shortly) you may get only a 2% Response Rate to your ad, but you may close 30% of those calls. Other times, you may get a 25% Response Rate and only close .5% of the calls. For this reason, many people look at marketing, and direct mail in particular, as a game that needs to be beat. It’s one of the things that makes wholesaling so fun! The goal, however, is to beat the game without spending all your money.

We are about to talk about a lot of different direct mail strategies, but keep in mind: what works for one direct mail marketer might not work for another. A good marketer is always testing, always tracking, and always perfecting their skills. This is what sets apart a successful direct mail marketer from one who fails.

Let’s go on and talk about some specifics with direct mail marketing, starting with “The list.”


The Direct Mail List: Who Should You Mail To?

Before you can start printing your direct mail, you need to decide who will be the recipient of those letters. Yes, you could use something like the USPS’s Every Door Direct Mail service and hit every single home in an area… but the vast majority of those leads would be pointless. Instead, you want to mail to people who fit a certain profile.

In a recent BiggerPockets Blog post, Joy Gendusa, CEO of PostcardMania, said this:

“First, you have to get the idea that ‘marketing is persuasion’ out of your head. You aren’t convincing someone to buy from you. You are showing the recipient of your card why you are the best choice in your industry. You know they are already going to be interested in your products or services, because you are going to make sure of it by finding a mailing list filled with prospects who are HIGHLY likely to be looking for what you offer.”

I think this quote perfectly summarizes why you should be targeting specific lists. Simply put: in an ideal world, you would only mail to people who are already interested in what you offer! Imagine getting 100% of people who you mail to to respond and sell their home to you. Yes, it’s probably impossible… BUT you can improve your response and conversion rates by marketing to the right people.  So let’s talk about how to do this.

There are numerous different lists you can mail to. I’ll first discuss a few of the most popular types of lists, and then go into the specifics of where to get these lists.

1.) Absentee Owners – these are owners whose mailing address is different from the property address. This could be a number of reasons but typically indicates a rental property.  Many landlords find themselves motivated to sell because, quite frankly, they are not very good landlords. Landlording is not easy, and many people fail at it. Other times, absentee owners may be property owners who have moved from their primary residence but failed to sell their previous home, or owners who inherited a property from a relative.

2.) Inherited – Exactly what it sounds like: people who inherited a property.

3.) Eviction Records – For anyone who has been through the process of evicting a tenant will understand – evictions can be extremely difficult to deal with emotionally. During the stress of an eviction, many landlords realize they no longer want to own the property and would gladly sell in a hurry.

4.) Probate – When a person passes away, depending on the way their estate planning was set up, their home goes into probate. Often times, the family needs to deal with emptying out the home, cleaning up the property, doing necessary repairs, and selling the property. For many, this is simply an overwhelming task. This can make probate lists very receptive to a direct mail campaign. Keep in mind, however, that you are dealing with people in an emotional time, so an ugly yellow postcard might not get a great marketing tactic.

5.) Pre-Foreclosures – When someone stops making their mortgage payment, the bank will begin the process of foreclosure. During this time, it’s possible to reach out to the homeowner and offer to help stop the foreclosure and save their credit.

6.) Expired Listings –  When people try to sell their home through a real estate agent but are unable, the property becomes an expired listing.  Although they may have had trouble selling because the price was too high, there may also be other issues with the property that made it difficult to sell. This is when an investor can come and help save the day by purchasing the home from the motivated seller.

7.) Tax Delinquent – Not paying one’s taxes is a good indication there is something wrong and there may be significant motivation to sell.

8.) Divorce – I don’t need to expand too deeply on this, but when people go through a divorce: they often are VERY motivated to sell quickly.

Where to Find Lists?

Lists can be built in a few different ways; some free, some not.  Let’s go over the four most common ways to build your list:

County/Public Records – You’d probably be surprised at the amount of information that can be found through public records. Generally, it’s the county assessors office that has most of the pertinent information, and much of this can be obtained online. Keep in mind – some counties are much better than others at keeping their records current.  If you are unsure of where to access your local government’s public information, check out to find links to your county’s public records.

Driving for Dollars – Definitely not the fastest way to build a list, but driving for dollars can be one of the cheapest ways. Driving for dollars is the process of getting in your car and driving around, looking for properties that indicate there is a problem, such as long grass, boarded up windows, or public notice signs on the home. By writing down the address, you can search the public records at home or on your smart phone to create a list of potentially motivated sellers to mail to.  For more on driving for dollars, be sure to check out Chris Feltus’ awesome post Driving For Dollars Bible, part I and part II.

List Brokers – Perhaps the fastest, and most expensive, way to compile a list is using a list broker. There are several large companies that you can purchase lists from, but most get their data from the same public sources that you can get data from. The most widely used by investors seems to be ListSource, Melissadata, and Click2Mail. 

When using the list brokers (and to some extent, the county records) you are also able to narrow down your list to get even more specific. For example, you probably would not want to mail to someone who just bought their home last year, because there is likely not enough time for them to be “motivated.” Additionally, you may only be interested in buying certain property types or characteristics. For example, if three bedroom homes are the most popular for flipping in your area and you plan to wholesale to a house flipper, you may not want to mail to properties with only one or two bedrooms. For this reason, it’s important that you scale down your list more specifically.

Depending on the list site you use, you may be able to filter based on:

  • Equity
  • Number of Bedrooms/Bathrooms
  • Year built
  • Year the owner purchased
  • Late payments
  • Notice of Default filed
  • And a LOT more

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to build your list. However, don’t fret! There is no “magic bullet” when it comes to direct mail marketing. As we’ll talk about later under the heading “Split Testing” – direct mail is not about getting the perfect list, but about continually testing and tweaking to find a great list. So get out there, jump into the BiggerPockets Forums and discuss the merits of what YOUR list should include, and then do it. “Doing” is the only way to find success.

At this point, hopefully you have your list, or at least a firm grasp on how to build it. Now it’s time to start mailing… but first, what should you mail? The next section is going to cover the two most common types of direct mail you can send.

Postcards Mail

Types of Direct Mail

When choosing what to send to your direct mail list, you have a few good options. Debates swirl as to the “best choice,” but the following will give you a fairly good idea of what’s out there so you can make the best decision for you and your business. Keep in mind: you don’t need to pick just one form. Many wholesalers mail all three types, on a rotation. Find something that works for you and your market!

Yellow Letters

Yellow letter Direct mailYellow letters are exactly what they sound like: letters written on yellow paper.  Usually handwritten (or printed with a font that looks handwritten), these letters are designed to look like they are personal and not from a large business – like some average guy quickly wrote a note and tossed it in the mail. This casual style is designed to encourage the lead to pick up the phone and call you.

As mentioned above, yellow letters can either be done by hand or printed from a computer (you would be amazed at how realistic a printed yellow letter can be) and furthermore, you can either do them yourself or hire the job out.  Many investors without a lot of money to start with spend their evenings hand writing hundreds of letters each night – but most quickly discover that it simply takes too much time. Some investors hire people from Craigslist to write them, and still others hire large companies to take care of the entire process. It really depends on your budget and your time availability.

These letters are typically sent in an envelope, but marketers tend to find the best success when the envelope doesn’t look like a business envelope but rather a card from a friend – with handwritten addresses and a slightly smaller envelope size.

How Much Does Yellow Letter Direct Mail Cost?

The cost of yellow letter direct mail depends greatly on whether or not you do the job yourself. The paper, ink, and envelopes are inexpensive (under $.10 per piece of mail) but the preparation and postage are the costs that quickly add up. Expect to pay between $.40 and $.60 to do it yourself or $.75 to $1.50 if hiring an outside direct mail company to handle the whole process for you, depending on what they offer.

Typed Letters

While most yellow letters are written like a 3rd grader, direct mail does not have to be so casual in order to be successful. Many wholesalers find success by sending more Typed Letterprofessional letters, complete with a company logo and sometimes a photo of the owner. Others include a photo of the property itself, which can drive a lot of phone calls but can be time intensive to create.

Perhaps the most common use for formal letters is the probate niche, where a bright ugly yellow paper would simply offend the family of someone who just passed away.

When using a formal letter, consider handwriting the envelope to increase the open rate. Many people simply throw away envelopes that are typed, so don’t let your lead die in the trash.

How Much Does Typed Letter Direct Mail Cost?

About the same as yellow letters.


Postcards can be a cost effective way to reach more people in your direct marketing campaign, as they are cheaper to produce and mail, though many marketers believe better response rates can be achieved through letters. Again, it all comes down to testing what works in your market.

How Much Does Postcard Direct Mail Cost?

Postcards can generally be printed for just pennies, and postage for a 1st class postcard stamp is just $.34 at the time of this writing, meaning you could print and send postcards on your own for under $.50 each or hire an outside company to do it for you between $.40 and $1.00.

What Should Direct Mail Say

What Should You Say?

The purpose of your message is to get the reader to call you. Simple as that. However, the way you do that is not as simple. Entire books have been written on the best way to write sales messages and we can’t get too in depth here on that. However,  most investors would agree: short and sweet is best.

QuarlesPostYour message should be simple, to the point, and “benefit driven.” In other words, the recipient should be able to clearly know within just seconds what’s in it for them. Some of the best messages tend to be less than 20 words, and say something as simple as “I want to buy your house for cash. I can close in 10 days. Please call me today!”

When drafting your message, it’s okay to get creative. Remember the story at the beginning of this article about the key I received in the mail from a local car dealership? The key was just a gimmick to get me to read the junk mail… and it worked!  So experiment with ideas to get people to call you.

Speaking of experimenting, let’s talk about that.

Split Test Mail

Split Testing

No matter how smart you are (or think you are) the fact is: you don’t know what is going to work. Is a message on a yellow piece of paper going to get more calls or a message on a white piece of paper? What about a blue envelope versus a red envelope? What about a long message versus a short message?

We can make guesses and assumptions all day long, but until you get out there and try it, an assumption is all it will ever be.

Split testing is the process of trying out different things and tracking the results. For example, you may want to set up two phone numbers for people to call. On half of your direct mailers, with the yellow paper, offer Phone Number A. On the other half, with the white paper, offer Phone Number B.  Then send them out – and see which group offers the most calls. It’s important that you be extremely diligent in keeping good paperwork on how well your split tests perform, or it will quickly overwhelm you.

It’s unlikely that small changes like the color of paper will make that big of a difference. However, larger changes (like including a fake key) may drastically change your results. Even a small difference in conversion rates can make a drastic change on your bottom line. For example, if 5% of people usually call on your direct mail letter and you can increase that to 8%, it my seem small but if you are mailing to 2,000 people a month that’s a difference of 60 phone calls. If you close 5% of those deals, that could be an extra three deals every month – just by raising the phone call conversion rate from 5% to 8%. Now don’t you think it’s worth spending some time on a split test? I can almost guarantee – the local car company did their split testing and learned that the key provided a higher conversion rate.

Additionally, when split testing, it’s important that you allow for enough results to consider the test valid. For example, if you send out 10 letters to group A and 10 to group B, and Group A gets you 3 phone calls and group B gets you 4, don’t assume group B was better. With such a small number it’s hard to get a solid grasp on a “trend.” Maybe a couple people in Group A were out of town, or were dead, or whatever.  Therefore, I’d recommend sending to at least 500 per group to do an adequate split test.

A good marketer is always testing, tweaking, and improving in an effort to achieve the greatest return on investment. Once you “crack the code” to a successful direct mail campaign, you can ramp up your marketing and make an incredible profit for your business.

How Often Direct

How Often Should You Mail?

Do you remember the first time you ordered something from Amazon? Best Buy? Ebay?

VornholtQuoteChances are, the first time you purchased from them was not the first time you heard of them. People usually need to build trust with brand before making big decisions with a company. The same is true for wholesalers. When a person receives your direct mail for the first time, chances are – they will ignore it. However, after receiving multiple letters they build familiarity with your brand and trust is built.

Some wholesalers suggest mailing every month to your list. Others put their list on a 3 month rotation (1/3 of the list each month, so people receive four letters per year.) Others simply mail every other month.

How often you mail will depend largely on the list you mail to and … going with your gut. It can be difficult to “split test” how often to mail so you may just need to pick a frequency and run with it. I would suggest somewhere between once a month and once every three months. Then, continue to mail until one of three things happen:

  1. They ask you to remove their name from your list.
  2. You buy the house.
  3. They sell the house to someone else.

A “no thank you” is often just a “not right now.” Most successful wholesalers can tell you story after story of deals they’ve done with sellers after being told “no” more than once.  As we talked about earlier in the quote from Joy Gendusa, direct mail is about being the solution sitting on their kitchen table the day they realize they have a problem.  Only by regular mailing can you optimize your chance of being the solution on the day they need it.

Direct Mail Conclusion


Hopefully by now you have a good idea of how to get started with your direct mail campaign. However, just in case you are still confused, let me give you a quick and dirty 10 step process for getting your direct mail campaign going:

  1. Establish your budget.
  2. Decide on WHO you want to target.
  3. Decide HOW you want to target them (Postcards, Yellow Letters, etc).
  4. Buy your list (or get it free).
  5. Plan your split test (optional).
  6. Print your letters/envelopes OR hire it out.
  7. Answer calls.
  8. Track responses from the split test.
  9. Continue to mail to the list on a regular basis.
  10. Land your deal.

By following this 10 step process, and continually testing and tweaking different aspects about your direct mail campaign, you’ll be able to maximize your return, attract new leads, and grow your business to new heights.

Direct mail can, and should be, a major lead generator for your business and hopefully the past 4000 words has given you the tools needed to find success with direct mail.

If you have any questions, I invite you to leave them below in the comments. However, I also recommend heading over to the BiggerPockets Forums, where real life direct marketers with hundreds of years of combined experience hang out and offer answers to your questions!

Great Direct Mail Resources

Must-Read Articles on Direct Mail

Must-Read Forum Discussions on Direct Mail

Podcasts with Heavy Focus on Direct Mail

Direct Mail Printers

List Building Resources

Photos:,,?ethan, jev55, & terrellcwoods

About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner is an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, writer, and co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast. He began buying rental properties and flipping houses at age 21, discovering he didn’t need to work 40 years at a corporate job to have “the good life.” Today, with nearly 100 rental units and dozens of rehabs under his belt, he continues to invest in real estate while also showing others the power, and impact, of financial freedom. His writings have been featured on,,, Money Magazine, and numerous other publications across the web and in print media. He is the author of The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down, The Book on Rental Property Investing, and co-author of The Book on Managing Rental Properties, which he wrote alongside his wife, Heather. A life-long adventurer, Brandon (along with his wife Heather and daughter Rosie) splits his time between his home in Washington State and various destinations around the globe.


  1. Great article. You’ve managed to incorporate the Mount Rushmore of BP Marketing knowledge (Jerry, Sharon, and Michael although Dev Horn is missing).

    A must read for anyone getting started. A lot of these things I’ve done when I kick started my direct marketing campaign the last two weeks. A lot of it I picked up from reading BP blogs like Sharon’s. Listening to Sharon and jerry podcast interviews (which are amongst the ones I listen to multiple times). Reading Michael and Dev’s forum contributions.

    Glad to see an article like this pull it all together.

    P.s. When are you going to get Michael quarles and/or Dev on a podcast?

  2. We have done several targeted mail campaigns over the last year and have experienced very similar results to those discussed here, roughly a 10% response rate. We typed our letters and hand addressed the envelopes. We compiled our list from the county auditor’s website and manipulated it to only include 4-19 unit properties in certain neighborhoods. My guess is the number of “motivated” sellers we get to respond might be lower than for single families, but that is just a guess. We have sent around 500 letters – received around 50 responses – looked at 5 properties – made 2 offers – 1 property currently under contract.

      • Definitely. The seller actually owned and managed four buildings on the same street. She inherited them last year from her father and she was tired of managing them on her own. Two of the buildings had already been listed on the MLS and were under contract. We are out of state so we had our realtor go tour the remaining to properties, both fully occupied four families. We contemplated making an offer for both but ended up making a “best and final” offer on the nicer of the two buildings. I would not categorize it as a “great deal” but I don’t think it would have lasted a day on the MLS at our price. That being said, the property met our criteria for the price we offered and we project it will earn at least a low teens cash on cash return using pretty conservative projections.

      • Ryan Ball

        We focused on specific neighborhoods and 4-19 unit properties. Neighborhood and property type are the two filters the auditors site has. The 4-19 units is how the auditors site categorizes them. We eliminated any properties that had been purchased fairly recently. I think we screened out any properties that had a purchase date within the last 3-4 years. You might be able to manipulate the data to find properties with late taxes but my guess is you would not find many in the multi-family space. It took some trial and error to figure out how to get all the data we needed and how to cross reference different pieces of data but we ended up with pretty solid lists. Most of the responses we received were from people who owned one building and were tired of being landlords and/or were older and no longer wanted to manage a property.

  3. Here’s a quick tip on how I manage and mail to my lists. I like to work 2 lists at once and alternate mailings. It allows me to access more potential sellers and I’m not spamming the same list every 30 days.

    I’ve been able to generate more motivated sellers by working 2 lists.

    Hope that helps!

  4. Terrific in-depth write up…Woah!

    Just wanted to add something I didn’t find mentioned in your article, if I may…the power of Variable Data a.k.a. Personalized Direct Mail.

    As you mentioned, compiling a great list of who to mail to is imperative to make your direct mail most effective BUT it can be taken a bit further:

    Variable Data Printing (VDP) allows for each and every postcard, brochure, envelope or whatever your mail piece is, to be personalized with bits of personal data within the graphics.

    Something like their first name in BIG BOLD LETTERS to really grab their attention or you can personalize the message to be relevant to their current situation instead of getting a generic message that might not directly apply to them. The possibilities are endless.

    The truth is it will cost a little extra on your printing costs but think of it as a small additional investment to potentially double the amount of expected calls.

    Again, great write up and thank you for promoting the value of direct mail in such detail!

  5. Sara Cunningham on

    Great article Brandon there are so many ins and outs on this subject as most of you know. This is really good for someone wanting a really solid base to get started. I worked for years for the largest mailing company in Oklahoma just love your story of the car key, dealers in Oklahoma go crazy with that stuff and by far were my biggest clients and spenders.

    Just a thought if you want to gather more specific info call a mailing company ask questions get several quotes you don’t necessarily have to use them. They can give you tips on getting a mail permit or using bulk mailing stamps which can save you a fortune on postage. Also things like using window envelopes to reduce labor costs etc. a good turnkey company should be able to source the list, design and print the material prepare for mailing and drop the mail on specific dates. You can use all, some or none of their services but you might pick up some tips for free.

  6. Definitely. The seller actually owned and managed four buildings on the same street. She inherited them last year from her father and she was tired of managing them on her own. Two of the buildings had already been listed on the MLS and were under contract. We are out of state so we had our realtor go tour the remaining to properties, both fully occupied four families. We contemplated making an offer for both but ended up making a “best and final” offer on the nicer of the two buildings. I would not categorize it as a “great deal” but I don’t think it would have lasted a day on the MLS at our price. That being said, the property met our criteria for the price we offered and we project it will earn at least a low teens cash on cash return using pretty conservative projections.

  7. Wow great article Brandon.
    Really comprehensive look at all the factors one needs to take into account for getting a mailing campaign going.
    Definitely will be looking back on this for future reference.

    • Kristin Craig on

      Hi Dave,

      I’m doing software business at Toronto and I’ve been using direct mail services for the last few years. At first, I was also thinking like you; that direct mails are good for nothing, especially in this era. Then when I came to know that my business counterparts are using direct mailing and printing services to promote their business, I decided to give it a try to survive in the corporate competition. I approached a direct mailing services company in the Greater Toronto Area for managing my mailers. And for my surprise, this idea could raise my annual profit up to a considerable level.

  8. Hello Brandon this is Lorna, as you know I’m a newbie in real estate, and on the bigger pockets forum, I would like to ask you Brandon can you help me out with the wording of what should I write in the yellow letters when sending them out I would like to do out of state, and I would like also like to use postcards too. Brandon do you have a section on bigger pockets call the file section, I was on the forum discussing about the yellow letters and there was a gentleman Dale Osborn was very kind of him to offer a list , but how do I get to file section, can you help. Thanks Brandon God bless Lorna . P.S your book still coming out on money lending

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Lorna,

      Thanks for the comment! As for wording, really, I think simple is best, though it depends who you are mailing to. Something as simple as “Hi, my name is Lorna and I want to buy your house.” might work (with your phone number, of course.) Or you could make it a bit more long, but you don’t need much.

      As for Files – check out The Fileplace –

      Hope that helps!

      And yes… the book is done, just waiting for publication any time now!

  9. Thanks Brandon, another excellent article for the archives of BiggerPockets. BiggerPockets has been my number one educational resource for learning more about REI related topics. Every time I see something written about direct mail marketing it’s referring to wholesaling properties. Do you have any idea of how many folks on BP are using direct mail marketing for the sole purpose of finding “buy and hold” properties? I’m strongly considering adding a direct mail campaign for the sole purpose of finding deep discounted “buy and hold” properties versus buying them from wholesalers (your thoughts).

    Have you considered using direct mail marketing to find properties?

  10. Such a great article for the new investor and even seasoned investor. Got to keep your pipeline full with new prospects. Since I am still newer I have a lot to get to work on now. What a great step by step tutorial for finding great deals.

    Next step for me: Apply what was taught to build a sustainable business.

  11. This was/is an awesome article. It really teaches me the benefits of being consistent in my direct mailing campaign. It is also an income producing activity that my wife can do for home. Thanks!

  12. Excellent article Brandon! I am a lover of all forms of marketing, but thought that Direct Mail was dying. However, I recently added a real estate focus and am going to A/B test campaigns out shortly.

    I was wondering if you or any other readers have any anecdotal experience in direct mail for residential properties in the high end market. The median price where I am focusing is 4m’s. Obviously 1 listing that closes pays for a year of mailings. But any insight is greatly appreciated.

    Also, I was wondering if you typically use the recipients surname?


  13. Curt Smith

    So if you are buying your list from or else where what select criteria is working in today’s appreciated market with few if no desperate sellers?

    What list type is hitting high motivated sellers today?

  14. Ronald Perich

    I have a question regarding direct mail… probably the most “motivated” seller is one who is already listed on the MLS. If you knew a property was active on the MLS, would you mail to them while it is still active or would you wait until it expires?

  15. Curt Smith

    Anyone care to offer what type of seller list is working best today?

    My research that I haven’t mailed yet is. In general if you have to work to get the list vs just click and buy off some list source the better your response rate. Since there will be fewer investors mailing the same sellers.

    – evictions. Some counties court records are on line. Some you have to go in person.

    – late taxes

    – code violations

    – probate. This is a harder catagory than you’d think. Mostly cash offers. Rarely subject to or lease option. The family just wants cash fast.

    – Notice Of Default. in 2015 the default rate is way down, banks are doing work outs and short sales much more readily. I’d need feed back if this is useful to mail.


    • John Hamilton

      Hi Steve, if it’s from the same provider, hopefully they will still have your last list available and remove the duplicates. Otherwise, provide them your first list and run against that. It might cost you a little extra perhaps?
      I have to think of doing that in my followup lists captures for the subsequent campaigns.

  16. Jarrett Ferris


    I just want to thank you for this awesome information about getting started with direct mailing! I am a new investor in the greater Seattle area in Washington state and have been debating for a while now about how I wanted to go about beginning to generate leads for my business. After reading through this post a few times, I think I finally feel comfortable and knowledgeable enough to begin a direct marketing campaign to help start off my business and generate my first leads, or at least start devising a plan! The information you presented here is going to be invaluable to me during my journey to financial freedom through real estate investing, and I thank you deeply for supplying it. Cheers and take care!

  17. While direct mail is definitely valuable, I prefer to use PPC. PPC also you to better track exactly how people are finding you, allowing you to optimize your site and marketing accordingly

  18. corey reyment

    This might be a dumb question but I haven’t done my first deal yet. I am looking to buy and hold for cash flow to replace my income. I love this article and would love to do this enough my portfolio going. My question is how do you close the deal? They call, you look at it, it looks like something that fits what you want. How do you know how much to offer and how do you actually buy it without using a realtor? Are there some good podcasts or blog posts that you might be able to point me to?

  19. I love analyzing different marketing strategies. Mail can be a great way to reach out to the general population. As you described, it is a statistic balance of cost and conversion rates. I could see it being very effective to try direct mail as a different marketing technique.

  20. Brant Phillips

    Direct mail marketing will always work in this industry. When caught in this situation, there will always be a subset of people that are paralyzed into inaction. That card, or yellow letter, or envelope in the mail is the only “out” for them, as far as they know.

  21. Rodel Gobenciong

    Great article, a lot of helpful tips. I tried copying the key strategy but instead of a key I used customized stylus pen with my name and company name on it. Maybe that way they wont just throw it out in the garbage right away. What I didn’t anticipate was the cost of mailing them, it jumped from regular postage price to $3 plus a piece which i didn’t budget for. So I had to go back home, open them all up, pull out the stamps off, reprint the envelopes and paste the stamps on them and head to the post office again. Man, that was a lot of work, lol. Anyway, just wanted to share my not so smart (newbie) experience.

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