Which Marketing Material is King?

17 Replies

I am looking into either buying pens with my contact info & website on them, or direct mail postcards.

Which would be a better deal in terms of getting responses?  I'm leaning toward the postcards, but the pens offer me a chance to physically hand the pen to a prospective client, attaching a face & personality to the name.

By the numbers:

I'm looking at 200 pens for roughly $70 vs maybe 2000 postcards for roughly $300+ postage

Any input is appreciated! Thanks!

Hi Suzanne,

I would say that it depends on what you are trying to do.  Postcards will get you introduced to new people (theoretically) and the pens are going to keep people thinking about you once you have met them.  If you are looking to attract new people, figure out what a monthly budget would be and work consistently in branding yourself in your community.  If it is a smaller community, you should be able to dominate it easily. Most agents should spend about $3,000-$3500 in branding themselves for a year.  If they do this, they will kick serious butt!

@Suzanne Storz what are you marketing for? If you are looking for properties to buy I doubt pens would help much. That number of postcards could bring you a deal but may not. The expensive part is the postage. 

If you are looking for clients to list their homes i would say pens. But realistically in either case both are a drop in the bucket as to what is needed, Getting listings takes time and repeated messages. Even if your postcard lands the day they decide to list, they are more likely to list with someone who they have heard of before through many repeated contacts.

Perhaps the money is better spent on your website developing good SEO and pay per click leads.

Thank you for the input, guys! (I still need to learn how to tag people in my posts, I'm so new around here! haha)

My primary goal with marketing is to get my name out there.  I'd like to get a few listings out of it, ideally, but first and foremost is just brand recognition.  I have a decent web presence, but I need more traffic.  I think at this point, I'm looking into advertising with a local deal finder magazine (I'm not sure they have these everywhere, but I could explain what it is if need be.)  & then there's the tried and true method of handing out business cards like halloween candy.

This might be apples and oranges, so I'd say do both and a lot more.

I've purchased a gazillion pens for various brands over the years, and I never recall a single phone call or lead that could be attributed to one.  They can create brand or name awareness, but I like small notepads even better because you can put all your info and your FACE on them, and as they are used the pages may be handed to someone else, so your brand could be shared with a larger audience.  A pen can stick around the house for a lot longer, but probably just stuck in the dreaded kitchen "junk drawer".

I like postcards with tear-off business cards so that a truly motivated seller or buyer can choose to retain your info to follow up with you.

Direct mail works when done at volume and consistently over time.  Those "Just Listed" cards really only have one purpose, and that's to remind people about YOU.  I don't know what the response rate is on those, but I've always thought a better offer might be the "What's Your House Worth?" postcards - it speaks to MY house, where a just listed card is about my NEIGHBOR'S house (from a marketing psychology standpoint...).

"The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time." ~ Thomas Jefferson

@Suzanne Storz  you need a plan that is 2 pronged.  One for your current contacts and one for getting new contacts...who will be funneled to your "current contacts".  A drip email system or unique newsletter is good for keeping in touch.  Post card mailings are good to get new contacts but is a shotgun method...only a small percentage "hit" something.  To minimize costs, I used a service I found on the post office web site.  They combine your mailing with enough others going to the same zip code to get you the bulk mailing rate.  You upload content and they print and mail.  That services is a bit buried on their site.

Originally posted by @Suzanne Storz :

I am looking into either buying pens with my contact info & website on them, or direct mail postcards.

Which would be a better deal in terms of getting responses?  I'm leaning toward the postcards, but the pens offer me a chance to physically hand the pen to a prospective client, attaching a face & personality to the name.

By the numbers:

I'm looking at 200 pens for roughly $70 vs maybe 2000 postcards for roughly $300+ postage

Any input is appreciated! Thanks!

Generally speaking, I think the postcards would be a better way to go. Pens not only get lost, but they rarely get looked at in detail. I have so many pens from various companies and I don't think I've ever thought twice about them in my entire life (well until now that is).

to tag a person, type the @ symbol and the name.  After a few letters the name will appear below the box you are typing in.  Click on it.  It now appears where you were typing and hi-lited.

Can you point me in the direction of that post office service, @Don Johnston ?

@Suzanne Storz

My commentary may come across as harsh, but this is something I feel quite passionate about so I apologize in advance.  

The biggest mistake I see people make in marketing (over and over...and over) is thinking that the prospect cares about "you".  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you and your family are the only ones who care about you.

People develop a marketing campaign centered around how much experience they have, how much money they "produce", their education, the company they work for, how many acronyms and letters come after their name, how great they are, etc, all while completely failing to address the most important question: how are you going to address the prospect's problem(s)?  

Yes, of course, your experience, strategy, and intangibles are likely to solve that problem, but that is something the prospect will experience for themselves down the line.  

Your goal is to have that person to pick up your marketing piece and think "hey, this lovely lady Suzanne seems like she knows what she is talking about, I want to learn more"  You can try to convince people until you are blue in the face that your track record, certifications, or experience are all they need to know in order to do business with you.  This will work on some, but on the whole, will invariably lead to subpar results when prospecting for new leads.  

If you are going to use direct response, the key is through using element(s) of your marketing and copywriting to build trust.  Whether that is through some sort of free information you offer prospects for providing you with their contact information, or using compelling copy to elicit an emotional response from your prospect...you will need something more than a glossy card with some canned words and a pretty house and/or a pen with your contact info on it.  

Again, your goal is to provide something of value that is going to make that prospect say "I like what I am seeing and I need to know more".

Forget about "branding" yourself.  That is the most costly and least effective form of marketing for people searching for new leads.  People respond to free educational information, specific emotional triggers that exist in their mind, and reassurance that the information you provide is (either directly or indirectly) going to help them solve their problem(s).  That last part works because you have spent time building trust via educating them.

Instead of spending money on a bunch of pens, take one of them to start writing a list of questions that you and your colleagues receive from clients.  The questions that repeat themselves are where those emotional triggers lie.  It's really easy to build trust with a prospect when they feel like you can read their mind.

Feel free to PM me and I would be more than happy to help.

@Jeremy T. , That's a great perspective.  Thank you for the input, I will definitely take your points into consideration because I don't want to waste my time or money on marketing that just *might* get me the results I want.

Hi @Suzanne Storz ,

Here's an observation. Here in DFW I see Agents spending a stupid amount of money "branding" themselves. When I get a calendar, refrigerator magnet or something else like it from them, all I can think is "Wow, that's an expensive piece of marketing" I can't help it.

I work with wholesalers all over the Country, managing their mailing campaigns for them, and all of them seem to have a common "problem":

"what do I do with all these people who want retail for their property?" What I tell them is to find some Agents to put on their team and offer them a steady stream of warm qualified leads in exchange for either a monthly contribution to their marketing budget, comps, property research....whatever.

Would you be willing to pull comps for wholesalers? Market along with them? That's the sort of action that will immediately put you in touch with people looking to list. 


You guys have some great perspectives!  

I would agree with @Jeremy T.  

Business comes to you in three ways.  Now, Future, and Maybe business.  

Now Business=FSBO, FRBO, Expired Listings, etc. People who need to sell RIGHT NOW.

Future Business= Absentee mailings, Internet Marketing, Blogging, etc.

Maybe Business= Things you can't control.  Short Sales, etc.

Three Types of Business

Of that business that is possible, it is classified in three ways.  "Head of Lettuce", "Hard to Get", and "Nearly Impossible to Get". 

Head of Lettuce Business= No competition, very easy to get, no objections from the Seller. This is the type of business most people "post checks on Facebook" about.  You would have to be a "head of lettuce" not to get this business.

Hard to Get Business= Where there is competition, or the Seller disagrees with you over price, there are objections that must be handled, etc.  This requires a level of Sales Skills for Real Estate Investors that most do not posses.

Nearly Impossible To Get Business= The type of Seller who does not LIKE Realtors® or Investors, or has significant Title Issues. Perhaps there are issues of price that are extremely hard to deal with.  This type of deal requires a high degree of versatility, as well as patience and skill by the practitioner to close.

Where to Spend Your Money

In my opinion, the question is not "should I spend money on Pens or Postcards"; the question should more appropriately be; 

How do I reach the most potential Homeowners and HomeBuyers who could use my services TODAY?

Now, if I were you, I would spend money on neither.  $70 for pens or $300 for a direct mail campaign will have a extremely limited reach.  

For maximum effect, and the longest duration, my money would be on the power of Content Marketing using a powerful website like Investor Carrot.  

I am currently doing a blog series called [REMOVED] where I am demonstrating how you can (for $99 a month) get better results via the web WITHOUT paying for Google ads, or traffic.

How to generate organic SEO Traffic via your blog, which is filled with links, and of course free downloadables that will help your prospect with their questions, as well as position you as the expert.

Asymmetrical Warfare

Understand this... things are not like they were 18 years ago when I started. Then, the Realtors® had all the information! The MLS was the sanctity of the licensee, and the investors and regular public had to deal with the frustration of trying to "get prices" or other information.

Now, with the proliferation of the Internet, and the ability for people to use their smartphone to get more information than you generally do!  If they are Sellers,  there are a ton of resources that they have available at the palm of their hand. 

Therefore, the idea of "Branding" yourself, (pens) is practically useless in a "Google" world. Similarly, if you are mailing $300 worth of postcards, you probably aren't reaching more than 300 pairs of eyes.

I can assure you, you will reach far more "qualified eyes" than any other by using the most powerful tool possible.  The Internet.  

Your advantage is not the restriction of information (as it was in days of old) but now, the dissemination of information, along with the interpretation.  That is your strength.

Have a Powerful Sales Day!!!

@Suzanne Storz I would also highly recommend that you listen to the I love marketing podcast they have some great advice on agents.

My first question is when have you or anyone you know for that matter, ever called the phone number on a pen advertisement? I'm going out on a limb and going with - Never.

If you choose to use the direct mail route, yellow letters generally have a higher response rate than traditional postcards due to the personal natures of them.

It all comes down to how much money you are looking to spend on your marketing budget.  Give me an idea of that and I will give you an idea of what way to go.

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