Ok so I have virtually no budget to speak of and with some help the collective advice of bigger pockets I narrowed my mailing list to an extremely specific 200 people to mail to. So here is the break down of my mailing criteria:
With-in city limits
35 to 100% equity
950 -1800 sqft
Owned property 4+ years
Built between 1965-2011
So my total budget to get my marketing off the ground is a mere $200 but I plan on putting in a ton of sweat equity to help make up the lack of capitol. The above list cost roughly $50 and I went and bought enough supplies to mail to each 6 times. Including yellow pads, pens, and envelopes. Bringing my total cost before postage to around $85.
Now I am currently handwriting and addressing all of these letters. I am currently trying to find the zen real estate investor through the small tasks. Think Daniel-son in Karate Kid where he is waxing the car. I am doing this because I dont really have an alternative but at the same time, I want to do every step of the entire process of wholeselling to have a better appreciation of the entire process. Currently I am shooting to write, label, stuff and mail about 14 letters a day. That will give me roughly 14 days worth of work and should keep the calls at a low enough volume that I will not get overwhelmed. That and I will have a couple of days where I wont have to write more letters for follow up.
Hand writing everything is a painfully slow process but it has left me with plenty of time to ponder things I would have not thought about until I was here. So this leaves me with a couple of questions that maybe others have some opinions on.
1. Do you use your personal home address as return address when mailing yellow letters or PO box? Pros & Cons?
2. I am using Google Voice and the phone number listed on my biz cards and mailers, the number is the same area code but not the same city as I live and market to. Do you think this would have a positive/negative impact or non at all?
Thanks everyone and I hope everyone out there is on the path to hitting their REI goals!
Hi Wane, and way to take that first step! I've not played with them yet, but there are computer fonts (probably specialized at a guess) which mimic handwriting, for if your hand wears out; might be worth looking into? Also, I ran across this, the Tennessee Public Notices website, which includes foreclosure notices and such; perhaps there's a way for you to reach that market as well. If you do, make sure you get a bit acquainted with the process there in TN though, as the better you know the process, the more capable you'll be of inserting yourself into it. Best of luck, and let us know how it goes!
Yikes, sorry, it's late; I just realized I didn't even answer either of your questions. I use a PO Box simply as a way to separate my business and personal life, plus any Return To Senders will be more obvious in a PO Box (for me, anyway). As to the phone number, I honestly don't think anyone's going to blink too hard at it, certainly not if they're sufficiently motivated. Just keep plugging away, and constantly be thinking of ways you can remain proactive while your mailers are doing their work. Best of luck, and stay in touch!
Hey Wane congrats on getting started!
Something that I did was to hand write a letter in plain white paper but laid on top of yellow lines paper for lining up the lines.
I wrote the letter and left space for property address.
Then I tore out sheets of yellow lines paper from notepad and put them into my printer and did a copy of the handwritten paper so it was printed onto the yellow lined paper.
Then I only had to hand write in the address :)
It's super simple and people that I showed it to couldn't tell it was printed.
@Mark Marinaccio , great idea! Sounds like a great way to maximize efficiency, and the more that can go out the better! Oh, one other thing, @Wane Tango , I don't know your day to day schedule, but on a modification of the driving for dollars theme, you could literally place letters at people's residences. Given the current price of gas, it would actually be cheaper than postage (albeit more time consuming). I did this for a little bit recently and intend to do more over the next few weeks. There is a website called routefast.com that allows you to bulk add addresses and it will come up with the most efficient route for you. So far I have done up to 25 at a time with no issues, and I think you could likely do more. It's a pretty basic site, but perfectly functional for its purpose, and free. That said, it can be a bit hinky; if you're interested in trying it out and want to know how to avoid the Homer Simpson moment that I had with it, give me a call (contact info is below). Take care, and have fun!
Just know that when using @Chad Clanton 's last method above, don't actually put the mailer in the mailbox as the Post Office will get upset with you. You're better off taping it next to the garage door or slipping it in the crack of the front door leaving it exposed.
@Matt V. , thanks for pointing that out. I figure staying away from the actual mailbox is always a good policy; I usually just tape them eye level on the front door or somewhere obvious.
there is a company that makes extra large sticky notes printed with your info like a postcard mailer that you can peel and stick on front door too
Sorry for the delayed response to this. I have been following this and actually taking the advice mentioned above.
@Chad Clanton I would love to call you sometime and pick your brain about some of this stuff. I have not got to talk with many investors. As far as I can tell their is only a small handfull in my area (which Im hoping will work in my favor when I become competent enough to make some deals). My number is in me siginature as well, call me anytime that is convenient with you, I always answer unless Im talking with my wife or client. Or let me know when would be good for a call.
@Mark Marinaccio You sir are a genius!! You saved me hours of frustration and countless hand cramps. I do graphic design for fun on the side and I have no idea why I did not think about photocopying a letter. So it took a few hours of experimenting and editing the photocopy of the letter in photoshop but I have it working like gangbusters now. My printer does not really like the thin yellow pad paper but it works. The time I spend fixing the occasional paper jam vs handwriting each letter is well worth the effort. Going to get a stamp for the return address this week to speed that part up as well. Im still experimenting with pens that match the printed letter a bit better. On first glance its hard to tell but the gel pen is too dark and the standard pens are a bit too thin. So far the standard black ink disposable pens seem to work, but I think I can get it better. I am a bit of a perfectionist. I will report back what works best if anyone else is interested.
@Mark Marinaccio I am a day jobber doing home inspections and I have a fantastic app called road warrior on my driod phone. I have a few friends that work with FedEx and UPS and this is the app that they use to plan routes. It looks for efficiency in mileage vs time travling. It even considers school zones during busy times. Its a pretty impressive app and works great for my business. Their is a free version on the marketplace but I think it limits you to 10 stops. I pay the monthly service because of my job. And yes I do plan on doing some door knocking in the next couple of weeks with some of the pre forclousers that I have came across.
@Matt V. Do you have a website for those post it notes? That definitely sounds like something that I could use. I have heard that a post it note on a door is very effective and even the pros like Anson Young have talked about doing this during slow times.
Thanks everyone for the great responses!
Another question: So I am able to get about 15-20 letters a day ready for mail, would you guys wait to make it a larger mailing or just send em out as they are ready to go?
@Wane Tango , yea I had a similar experience where I was sending post cards for a concrete business I was running. Not that we were lazy but with some of the neighborhoods we just didn't see any harm in putting cards directly in the mailboxes. We ended up getting a notice from the Post Office notifying us of our misdoing. Live and learn I guess.
I ordered the stickers from a company online called flaire. They have a template you can work off of.
As for the letters I handwrote it wih a flet tip marker the photocopied and then used the same felt tip marker to write in the address and it matches perfectly
@Mark Marinaccio I am using a Heavy gel pen and then using a laser printer set to economy to print. I am trying to save money anywhere I can. My ink jet I know would look better and the ink would be thicker and match, but it would also double my print cost. I am trying to pinch my pennies on anything that I am doing in mass quantities.
Since I posted this I started looking into plotters I seen a few on amazon in the $300 range. I know that with some slight modifications you could add a pen or sharpie to the arm and then you would have all of your letter written by pen. Does anyone here have any experience with this?
I get it, costs add up. I usually hijack the office laser jet copier and printer when I can :)
@Mark Marinaccio Lol, I wish I had that as an option. The only printer I can hijack is the one that I use for my other business. Which would be all and well except that I pay for that toner as well.
I grew up with a father that was in Glen Garry Glen Ross.. Not actually the movie but started selling RE for Boise cascade in the early 60's.. just like the movie.
He would go to the sales meeting and the manager would HAND OUT TWO leads just like the movie and you had to produce.. Well my dad he decides this is no where enough leads to do really well. And he goes and buys a printing press and after school in the garage guess who ran it.. He would have me make up 20 to 30k door hangers with his name and return address on the LEADS.. Then come the weekend he would grab me my brother and about 4 of our friends and we got 1 penny a lead passing them out in neighborhoods he wanted to work.. Now today you probably would not let 9 year olds walk around neighborhoods at 7 and 8 am on a Sat. But we would put out 10k in a day.. My dad would get 40 to a hundred leads back in the mail.. My mom would call and make the appointment for the Sits and within a year he was the number one sales men... And off he went Circa 1964.
So if your farming an area you may want to just go find the local wino's or homeless at the homeless shelters and for 10 or 20 bucks they will walk almost all day long passing out your I wanna buy your home flyers. Must cheaper than postage.
That's what I did all through high school... I had not thought of those days in some years until I read your post.
@Wane Tango thank you for the interesting thread. I have been trying, with zero luck, to connect with a local company that handles the mailing and all. This thread has inspired me to say screw it and do it yourself. Cani ask where you are sourcing your list from? I am currently looking at listsource.com.
Thank you guys for offering up some really great ideas!
@Jay Hinrichs wow, THAT is creative, and very impressive. Thank you for sharing, I love reading really creative things like that, and that one is good. I've got a couple other ideas floating around as well which are slightly similar, but nowhere near that inspired ;) Once I've got them tested I'll throw them out there if they're any good, but until then I may just steal your idea :-P Great stuff!
@Carey Edmund Thanks for the kind words. I am using list source and my criteria is listed at the top. I did not come up with that on my own. It actually came directly from @Michael Quarles who is a genius marketer. In no way am I trying to reinvent the wheel here, just looking to see what smarter people did to make it roll. :)
I've used list source and then bought into the Kent clothier vacant property search software.
Mostly all of my time has been speculative, trying to find a niche and a proper market for my time, abilities and goals.
I'll let you know when something works :)
@Wane Tango Thanks for that. It nice to get confirmation you are on the right path. I am following this thread now so I hope you will post how it all is going as you move forward.
@Carey Edmund Absolutely, I still have not sent any mailers out yet. I am stuffing envelopes while I am tracking this thread actually. I plan drop off my first wave of letters in the morning on my way to work. So I am a bit anxious and nervous because I still do not feel prepared but I have faith that I will figure it out as I go. I will report anything new that happens here.
@Wayne Tam Her are a few ideas for saving money.
Use your ink jet printer but buy an ink refill kit, you will refill a cartridge for $2-4, some printers will recognize if you put the same cartridge back in right away so keep 2 or 3 and rotate them through.
Instead of using the legal pad paper buy some plain yellow photo paper, write your letter on white paper WITH LINES, then copy that in color mode over to your yellow paper, with a little running you should be able to get the lines to print too.
Someone here on BP advise that there is an app that will turn your personal handwriting into a font for your computer, I have not tried that yet but it has to beat hand addressing 100's of envelopes so I will try it soon.
Good Luck to you.
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