Yellow letters direct mail in Brooklyn, NY - Not even one phone call after our 3rd touch, Why?

49 Replies

BP marketing experts, I have a question:

We started our direct mail (yellow letters) a few months ago in a hot area in Brooklyn, NY.

We bought an absentee owner list from listsource and we decided to send out 400 letters each mailing for a period of six months.

We know the area well and we chose multi-family houses that all have 40% equity in it (listsource even re-ran the list for us to double check) and the last sale date of 2009 and before.

The first mailing went out in November and two weeks ago we sent the third mailing. So far since November we haven't received even ONE phone call. I'm not talking about a deal but simply a seller calling us! (and our phone number definitely works)

Since we are new to the game, I wanted to ask the marketing experts out there if you think that we should stop with this list and buy a different list in a different market.

Also, do you think that in such an expensive and hot market like Brooklyn, maybe 400 letters aren't enough to generate results? 

If there are any investors out there in Brooklyn who have been successful with direct mail, I would love to hear your advice.

Any help would be great as we are trying to figure out how to move forward.


Just curious what does your yellow letters say? I just listened to podcast 81 pertaining to them and maybe the kind your sending out isn't the style those potential clients are best reached. Meaning if it is postcard form maybe they won't even look at it or vise versa w the actual yellow letter or other forms. 

a yellow would not be my choice to multi family.  A great professional typed letter.   YES 

Even a zip letter.  

Also curious if your mailing to the actual owner of the property or if many of them are going to a property management company and getting tossed out? Is that possible?

@Michael Quarles  do you think that would be the reason for not receiving even one phone call? have you experienced something like that with your clients? thanks

I don't like yellow letters for absentees and certainly not for multi-family properties.

Multi's should be pitched with a professional approach via a postcard, white letter with logo letterhead, and PHONE CALLS.  Really a VERY different animal from what most RE investors go after.  more like a commercial prop deal.

Also, yellow letters may not play well in Brooklyn where people are going to be pretty savvy.  they seen a million of those things.

Design a nice postcard that explains how you SOLVE PROBLEMS and people with those problems (vacant house, taxes, etc.) will respond.  Only mail to people with equity as before.  Listsource is good data.  You just need to hone your strategy with the right message delivered to the right people the right way.

Best wishes to you!

@Dev Horn  

I have several customers and 3 coaching students doing very well with yellows there.   However it certainly requires an understanding of the market.  

And I would still vote for a professional letter to multis.  

@Aaron Junck  it's a basic yellow letter format not too long not too short.
It's possible that the letters are going to property management companies but how can I know? thanks

@Dev Horn  thanks! we have a feeling that maybe our text should be different for the Brooklyn crowd. will try that and keep you posted

I am not entirely sure. Maybe @Michael Quarles  could answer how a person can find out if it is going to a PM or owner. He's the Pro at yellow letters :)-

Originally posted by @Michael Quarles :

@Dev Horn 

I have several customers and 3 coaching students doing very well with yellows there.   However it certainly requires an understanding of the market.  

And I would still vote for a professional letter to multis.  

 I'm sure you do!  You are the king of the YL and understand best where to use them and where other pieces might perform better!  P.S. we just developed a new YL for our guys - I'll have to share it with you.  It's sweet.  ;-)

@Roy Assaf  ,

All marketer marketing and hype aside.....

1 Absolutely agree with @Michael Quarles  and @Dev Horn   that yellows are the wrong approach for multifam....especially in Brooklyn. 

2 Sample size is small, but to get ZERO calls, not even a "go to hell" or "I'm gonna shoot you in the head"....there's definitely something wrong.

I assume you've checked all the basics, actually visually inspected your RTS to make sure everything is printed properly and phone number legible?

Having pulled a number of lists for Brooklyn, with the wonky property types, my guess would be that your list is flawed. No mail piece can over come a bad list, so do your homework and reverse engineer your list until you find the problem.

@Jerry Puckett  now I learned that yellow letters are the wrong approach for multifam, Not even one call and we checked all the basics including our phone number multiple times. I'll work on the list again and possibly change the zip code. thanks

Just wanted to chime in and say that this is a fantastic thread.  There is some very valuable information being distributed here.  

Pay attention.

@Roy Assaf  Yo is the weather up there in the Northeast?

First I will like to say to stop sending out these Yellow letters ASAP. Don't buy another list or think about buying any other list ever. Now this just my opinion so don't get upset over this. 

You see when doing direct mail how many times do you think those people get hounded with mail like this. Let me ?????? tons of times. So of this reason yo'er marketing to people who are...

Not Motivated 

Not Interested

and simply not ready to sell

So what do you have to do to overcome such a disappointing campaign?

First you have to think of a way to get motivated sellers and buyers. The only way to do this in a reasonable way that won't cost you an arm and a leg whichis through local online marketing. 

Thousands of people are searching online locally to buy and sell their properties. So build an online presence and get found "meaning your website" Allow the leads to hunt you down versus you knocking on each door. This is the smart way to market if you want targeted motivated leads who are ready to make deals.

Finally, direct marketing works, but the approach you have is not converting into leads. Think about educating them versus selling to them. If you do this then your response rate will soar.


Good Luck Roy

Maybe try visit some of the rental in the area listed on the papers and site if you have the time, and pay attention to places are above or below the average rent in the area. 

@Antonio Coleman  

 LOL we went over this in another thread Antonio and you're still at this BS.  Be honest, how many deals a month are you doing taking your own advice?  Be honest now?

Folks, Yellow letters are the only way national wholesalers and regional wholesalers are getting their phones to ring.  Antonio you are now sounding like someone who just doesn't know what the heck you are talking about.

Folks search on yellow letters on BP.

Ok no sellers calling you back.  It's obviously the list you bought, no brainer there right?

Folks like Kent Clothier's lead service, find motivated sellers spent a ton of effort figuring out the motivated seller lead problem.  The answer is: vacant houses and out of state sellers.  When you have leads for a vacant house and out of state owner you have a recipe for motivation. and others just don't have the secret sauce of "vacant" houses.  Period.  They don't have it.  You are mailing perfectly happy owners and they won't call.  Even if you check at the very end, "out of state owner".  They obviously must be happy landlords else they'd call.  You have to check box some other criteria that means "pain" for the owner to call and "vacant" is that pain point.

I have a lifetime subscription ($1k) for 12k leads per month forever.  Connect with me and I'll give you a few k leads for your county.  I know these leads make my phone ring.  I'm mentoring a yellow letter group here in GA at  Every student gets 5-10 calls per 100 letters sent no matter the zip.  Even the hotly mailed core county zips are even calling these student's hand written letters.  Nope not mass printed by but hand written and hand addressed invitation envelopes.  You see the sellers say they got a 1" stack of mass produced post cards, but they called the student's handwritten letter.  BTW I use for alot of my mailings, just saying that students are getting incredible response rates from hand written letters.

You see there's a reason why we run a mentorship on this.  It's simple, but there's tricks that make the phone ring vs not ring.  It's not that yellow letters don't work, you just need to know the tricks.  Antonio does NOT know the tricks folks.

Don't listen to someone who says SEO will drive 1000's of callers per month (in 2015) to your squeeze page.  Until Antonio fesses up his closed deal stats VS hours and dollars of input don't listen to him.

Don't get me wrong,  I like Antonio's earnest and eagerness!!  And he's willing to write stuff and get "out there" which is how we all grow and learn.   He seems to be a nice guy too.   But he's got to offer us deals per hour of effort to prove what he says isn't just dumb hot air.  My experience with SEO / websites is that $1000;'s of dollars later and 100's of hours of SEO work later you might have a deal.   The SEO beginner will never figure it out!!    I know it's only a few hours to mail a few hundred hand written letters and in 200-500 letters you'll likely have a deal with yellow letters and the right address list.  I didn't just happen into yellow letters, it was a trial and error process that included a few websites (back in 2009-11 when squeeze pages actually did work).

@Roy Assaf Getting the phone to ring from direct mail is trial and error. It all depends on your area as well. Here in Boston there is a TON of competition but if you create the right list and letter you'll get some leads. Yellow letters should provide a bunch of phone calls but have a low conversion rate. I think the best thing for your situation and what has worked best here is to Drive For Dollars. Gather a list of your own by going out and finding distressed or semi-distressed multis. Also any list you are pulling off of listsource etc. should be scrubbed. With only 400 you should be able to eliminate quite a few. I pulled a list in 2 zip codes specifically for 3 families, 91%-100% equity and found a bunch of discrepancies that ranged from management company addresses, converted condo units, or recently purchased properties. You can scrub your list using MLS (if you have access) to check a property's history or online with the county registry. Some people don't like to scrub and just send, but to me it's a waste of money. Combine that with you DFD list and you should get some hits. My recent list will be testing out zip letters. I like that there is a check example that is included. I took and avg. amount that I'd spend on a property in my target area and put it on the check. This should impact a motivated seller by seeing all of the zeros. I explain that if now is not the time to hang the check on the fridge as a reminder to what could be in their bank account in order to retire, move to their dream city, or share with family. I also include that if it's not the right time for them to send me anyone that they might think is interested and if we buy that property we'll give them $1000. Just some input for you to consider ;)

@Josh Parra thanks for the ideas! before purchasing a new list I'll definitely make sure that everything's in place. the idea to scrub the list using MLS is great too.
Driving for dollar is what we are concentrating on especially in a competitive market like Brooklyn...

thanks again!

@Roy Assaf Michael Quarles is the king of yellow letters, you could probably take his course for the price of one of your mailings.

At our REIA meetings we usually review the Yellow Letters we've received in the past month. I've got MFs with equity so I usually get two or three.

We ran a contest for the best YL at one of our meetings and guess what? No winner, they all sucked e.g. misspelled owner name, address, misspelling in the body of the letter, contradictions. It seems the mailers don't take the time to see if their content even makes sense...

Originally posted by @Mike Hurney :

@Roy Assaf Michael Quarles is the king of yellow letters, you could probably take his course for the price of one of your mailings.

At our REIA meetings we usually review the Yellow Letters we've received in the past month. I've got MFs with equity so I usually get two or three.

We ran a contest for the best YL at one of our meetings and guess what? No winner, they all sucked e.g. misspelled owner name, address, misspelling in the body of the letter, contradictions. It seems the mailers don't take the time to see if their content even makes sense...

The content of your final paragraph makes my inner copywriter cry and want to punch a hole in some drywall.  Mucking up basic items such as the name or address are kind of out of the marketers control.  You can check for accuracy, but for the sake of efficiency one has to put some trust into the list provider to get this information as correct as they can. 

I get agitated when someone starts misspelling ANYTHING in the narrative, no matter how casual the interaction.  That is (I'd really like to use some foul language here) pathetic.  What other profession in the world has such a low barrier to entry that you can proposition a 5+ figure transaction with a grammatically inferior 'letter' (I use that term loosely) rife with spelling errors?

Yes, direct response marketing is a lot about 'right place/right time'.  However, In order to even be in that "right place", I believe a level of professionalism with your target could be previously established with a basis in communicating using the basics of the English language. 

I know that this rant makes me sound like a condescending *******, but I'm ok with that.  I take pride in using my words to elicit a response from people.  Not everyone is a good writer, and that's fine.  Just don't expect average, or even mediocre results from direct response when you cannot properly spell all of the words in a sentence.  Stay in your lane.  I don't go into homes and start tearing into walls. 

If you suck at writing and grammar, that's cool...find someone who doesn't and have them do it for you.  Otherwise, as Mike expressed: the people receiving these letters (that you are spending your hard earned marketing budget on) are openly mocking you.

I second the professional letter for the Multi's. I have a list of LLC's and trusts that I will be marketing to only using professional letters. My first 250 sent letters I received 6 phone calls. The second one I received 7. I combed that list and removed those who recently bought and some were different owners from the address that was listed so I adjusted. It took hours. Either you have time or money. Although I did receive a phone call from a multi-unit owner without a professional letter. He only opened mine because it was during the holidays and I used an invitation colorful style envelope. He thought it was a holiday card! There's no exact science to it all, it truly comes down to timing and sometimes content. I'm still trying to figure it out. But you never know with that list one person could call you back a year later I've seen it happened for other investors. Trial and error.

Good luck @Roy Assaf  

@Jeremy T.  

  yellow letters are for ( well you know what)  I prefer more targeted type communication's

But then again many folks that want to give away their home or have lived in it for years and now its a POS just because of how they live  those are your targets,

Investors by and large will not fall for that stuff. although they may have bought war zone or really bad areas and want to jettison

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