New Direct Mail Campaign-South Side Chicago Market

17 Replies

Hello BP Community,

I recently started a new direct mail marketing campaign in my Chicago market and wanted to sort of chronicle how it turns out. I actually wanted to post this the first week, but I gave it a little time so I can have some data to share. I usually listen to several different podcasts on different real estate investing strategies and marketing, and on a recent podcast by Sean Terry he had a guest who gave some very great information on how he does some of his marketing and how he creates his mailing list that he mails to and I thought the ideas he shared were so good that I followed his advice in creating my own list. Heres the link to the podcast:

I created my list using the criteria he mentioned in the podcast and I can say that I have been getting some good results. I wanted to create my own list this time around because I am beginning to get much better at my marketing (I find the field very exciting FYI), and I wanted to be more in control of the flow of leads coming in from my particular market. I really don't have a huge marketing budget right now, so I figured if I created the list myself (did it through ListSource) and shopped around for the best price on someone to mail out the pieces for me then that would be beneficial (@Tim Leslie here on BP has done a great job so far :-). I figured I would start with yellow letters the first week, skip one week, follow up with postcards, and do this on a bi-weekly schedule for about two months. In combination with that, I purchased 50 bandit signs ( The list that I created had over 1,500 leads within it (which was pretty pricey for me), so I only purchased a partial list of 300 leads. I will continue to just purchase more of the list a little at a time until I hit the whole thing, then move to another zip code within my market. My theory with the bandit signs is that I can cover more ground with them. Since I was only able to mail out to 300 leads from my list, I would place bandit signs not only within that same zip code that I am mailing to, but I can also hit other zip codes that I wanted to target as well. It gives me more exposure, and I can generate more leads-well at least that is what I want to happen. In addition to those two marketing mediums, I also purchased 6 large magnets to put on both of my trucks and a partners vehicle as well (purchased via Vistaprint). I have a landscaping business, and I'm usually riding through several of my targeted markets constantly, in addition to just driving the other vehicles all over the place, so this will give me great exposure to drive leads for my company as well. Here is how things have been going so far:

Yellow Letters & Postcards

Week 1:

Received 17 calls. 11 had nothing to sell. 2 had called, didn't leave a vm, so I called and left vm with a text message a couple of times, and continuing to follow up with them. 1 was already listed with a broker, and what she needed out of the deal didn't make sense for my numbers. 1 of the calls were from her listing broker-made a connection with her. The last 2 callers insisted that they didn't want to sell right now, so I will follow up with them in 3mos to see if anything has changed.

Week 2:

Received 4 calls. 1 caller was a short sell and was already a recent rehab but the bank was asking a very high premium for it. The seller informed me that she was trying to get another appraisal so they can lower it because there have been several interested buyers, but the price is just way too high for the area and noone is going to buy at that price. She said she'd follow up with me if anything changed, and I'll most likely follow up with her before then lol. 1 caller didn't have anything to sell. 1 caller was another that was listed with a broker, and was priced very high in relation to the value in the area-so nothing I could use. The 1 last guy had recently did a reno and must have went over his budget because he was way off in regards to what the comps of properties in the area were actually selling for. I informed him that I wasn't able to do much at that price, but I would follow up with him to see if he reduced the price. 

Week 3:

I am currently in week 3 and just waiting on my postcards to hit. I received 2 more calls from the yellow letters though. 1 caller I have an appointment to check out this Fri.-3/13. Its occupied with a tenant already, and so far looks promising. I will have to put my negotiating skills to work and see if I can get the contract at the price I want. The other 1 call was from a lady who said she wanted to sell the property, but she had to ask her daughter first. She called me back about a couple hours later and said that her daughter was going to be inheriting the property and wasn't interested in selling. I am going to put her into my follow up list and touch basis again in 3mos. 

Bandit Signs

In regards to my bandit signs, its funny because its actually kind of exciting doing those lol, well at least my wife and I got a kick out of it. I put up about 21 signs on a Friday night when I received them. I chose high traffic areas where drivers usually experienced long waits during rush hour traffic build-ups, so they should drive some leads. I have driven past most of them and they are still standing so thats a good thing. I was running errands early one morning and I keep my signs in my truck, so as I was driving I was stopping at some major traffic areas as I mentioned previously and putting them up. As I was putting up one of the signs, a guy pulled over and asked me if I could help him get rid of some properties him and his partner were trying to get rid of. Turns out they have about 35 properties (great for me!!!!) and he gave me two of the addresses and said lets start with them. I checked them out and he was expecting more than they were worth, especially one which was in a terrible part of town, but the other I feel I should be able to negotiate and maybe turn a deal out of it. I can relate with him on different levels, so the rapport is there so we'll see how it turns out. I know you have to be careful in some areas with the bandit signs, because a police officer seen me putting up one and had pulled around on me and said that they couldn't be up in that particular part of the area. He and his partner was very cool about it, we could relate with each other, so he just to me to take that one down and to just be careful. I actually gave them both a business card and told them to call me if they or anyone they knew had anything to sell lol. I did notice 3 of my signs had been removed, sucks but the cost of doing business. 

Truck Magnets

Again, I was running errands, matter of fact my wife and I were putting out a few signs also, and she needed to run to the bank. As I was waiting in my truck, a guy walked up to my window and said hey I see you buy houses, here is one I have for sale!!! I was very excited because that just let me know that the money I invested was actually paying off. The lead could be a potential deal, but even if it does not turn out that way, at least I know the exposure is driving leads. 

I invested about $1,600 dollars total I think for everything, and its looking like I may be making that back very soon. I mean, I still have 3 other mail outs that I'm waiting to touch down, and things are going great. I advise people to check out that podcast and really listen to the tips that he is giving-its some great information. I will soon have my RE license placed with a sponsoring broker, so I know I will have to adjust some of the things I do in my business so I can stay in compliance with state laws pertaining to licensees. I have some things in mind that I know will work since I have a couple of partners I can work with, so I know things will work out fine. Having the license will be very beneficial because even if the leads don't fit my criteria that I use to wholesale the properties, I will be in a position to list it for them and get the commission; win-win situation for me and I can still help people out of whatever situation they may be in.  I will keep the BP community updated on the status of how things turn out as I go along as well. Until then, be blessed, and I wish you well in your business ventures. 

That's exciting @Larmon Cummings Jr and good luck! Are you marketing in the city?

@Jeff Valentino I am actually-60619 right now and surrounding areas, also south suburbs still. I haven't forgotten about you either. Will be sending you some deals soon ;-)

I am still trying to figure out how to incorporate Podio and Evernote into my business to work with my Google Voice phone. If anyone can offer any tips or advice on this I would really appreciate. Using pen and paper to organize my leads is not as efficient for me anymore, and I'm trying to incorporate more systems to automate my business and track my lead flow. Any recommendations on other tools experienced folks use would be greatly appreciated as well. Trying to understand oDesk as well to get some help from a VA also. Thanks in advance

congrats! keep bp posted!!!!

Good job documenting your results.

One thing I teach my acquisition team and we require at the office is to summarize the conversation they have with the seller with the following script:

W - what is the house Worth

O - how much do you Owe

W - Why are you selling

P - tell me more about the Property

A - tell me where this property is located or the Area

Re- what are the Re-pairs needed if any

Lo - if I offer you all cash and close in 2 weeks, what's the Lo-west price you will sell

Based on these answers, we plug these in our Deal Flow Analyzer and it will tell us which among the 10 ways to make money from any deal makes the most sense for the lead. If we have at least 1 way to make money from it, we acquire the lead and we have a deal. Most investors know only 1-2 ways to make money from a lead (e.g., buy it cheap or do owner financing). By knowing more ways, we can save our marketing dollars because we can close more deals.

@Larmon Cummings Jr

To integrate Evernote into Podio go to "my account" / "account settings" / "services" / "connect". Don't worry, I made a screenshot for you.

To integrate Google Voice you have to do it at the app level. It's a little more advanced so I just made a video that shows you how to do this.

I hope this answers your question. Good luck with Podio!

@Tim Herndon

Hey, just wanted to thank you again for those tips, I implemented Evernote and a couple other apps into podio with so much ease. I am having trouble with the Google Voice though. In the video you sent, you start on a screen with all of the options across the top. How do I get there?

Wow, I would love to take a peek under the hood of the Account Closed

Good start.  Stay consistent.

Hello BP Community,

I just wanted to give a quick update on how my marketing campaign has been going since my last post.

Week 4:

Received 4 calls. All of these calls came from my bandit signs. 2 of the calls were from wholesalers who I was able to talk with and exchange information to discuss future deals. Its always good to build relationships with people, and especially people within this industry because even though you may not do any business today, you never can predict what the future holds. The other 2 calls were actual property owners that were looking to sell a property. One of them turned out to be very motivated, but it wasn't a good deal, so it was not much I could do to help them. They were upside down on the mortgage, and the property was in a terrible part of Chicago-West Englewood. I did explain to him that I could help guide them to someone that could help them with a short sale, and they said they would think it over. A positive to that lead though, the son of the property owner was looking to move out and lease a property, so I am able to help him with that due to me having a RE license and thats another part of my business-leases. SOOO.... as I continue to advocate for people getting licensed, here is another perfect situation. Instead of having to pass on this lead, I am able to still utilize it by helping find this person a rental, and when I complete that task I am able to make a commission of probably $500 bucks or more by investing very minimum time in finding him a place he likes. Not a ton of money, but better than 0. The other call was a lady who was motivated as well, and had tried selling it a couple of times with no success. The problem was that she was looking to get much more than her property was worth. I explained to her what the values were in her area, and unless she was more flexible on her asking price, then she would continue to experience the same results as before. She explained that she was not going to "give her property away", which I understood completely, and she said she'd rather just give it to her daughter. I told her that wouldn't be a bad idea, and even still I would follow up with her later down the road to see if things changed. I never want to deceive anyone and I really try to present options to my clients. If they chose not to pursue any of those options then I just let them know that I will follow up with them at a later date to see if things have changed. 

Week 5:

Received 1 call. This was from my bandit signs also. This guy was calling lots of bandit signs around the city trying to sell a 2-Flat he wanted to get rid of. I spoke with a partner of mine and she mentioned he called her and another one of her partners, and she also hinted at him doing contracts with at least 3 people so far. My gut told me to pass on this one due to not knowing what contracts were already in place, and the guy just seemed very shady. I've learned to listen to that little voice in my head, even if it means potentially missing out on making some money. I just know that all business isn't good business, and sometimes you just have to know when to pass.

Week 6:

Received 3 calls. I touched basis with the company doing my mailings to get a status report of where we stood regarding the mail outs, and at this point the first batch of yellow letters and postcards were mailed, and the other yellow letter batch went out that past Friday. Surprisingly I didn't really get much from the postcards-I'll try something different next time if this stays the same. 1 of these calls was from a lady that previously called in one of the prior weeks and had the property listed with a broker, I think she said she got a postcard and that made her call. The listing agent was not successful in selling the property (she was using 2 pics of the property in her advertisements-not very good job of marketing the property IMO), so she wanted to see what I could do for her. I explained that the selling price, though priced according to the market, wasn't low enough to sell it fast. When assessing the area (C neighborhood), property size (2bd 1ba townhouse), and many other factors that I presented to her, I explained that if she really wanted to sell this property fast, like she mentioned she wanted to, then she had to be more flexible on price. She really wants to sell the property so she can move out of state since she's retired, so she's willing to work with me. I have an appointment scheduled for tomorrow, and I'm sure something positive will come out of it. I'm in the process of thinking of what to do with the property. Wouldn't be a bad rental unit for myself, but I could wholesale it pretty quickly and keep going if things go my way. I guess once I actually see the property that will really help me with making that decision. The last caller was pissed!! LOL. He was the typical I don't want to sell my house, don't ever contact me again type. I kindly apologized and told him that he may get a couple of other pieces of mail and to just disregard. Yikes, some people!!! lol

I am actually fielding calls this week from the yellow letters, so I will keep everyone updated on what happens. Until then, be blessed, and much success to you all. 

@Larmon Cummings JrGreatly appreciate all of the details. Thanks!

Account ClosedThanks for sharing. Please share some more :) What are some of those other ways to make money besides wholesaling and owner financing?

Thank you I look forward to more updates on your marketing. I have been looking into launching my own campaign in the next couple of weeks and love your podcast recommendation. Great job and good luck!

Hello BP Community,

Here is the update from this campaign. 

Week 7:

I received 4 calls. Two of the calls had nothing to sell. One was a wholesaler who seen one of my bandit signs, and we're working on a property together (a little co-opetition to get the property sold). The other call was from a guy with a property in Harvey (a suburb on the outskirts of the city; class D area), and he was asking much more than the property is worth. I will follow up with him to see if he becomes more flexible on the price.

Week 8:

My final mailing for this campaign went out and this week I received one call from a guy who seen one of my bandit signs. He owes more on the property than its worth, so I may be referring him to a short sale agent who may be able to help him out. 

From this campaign I currently have one property under contract that I have been marketing for sale. Its a pretty solid deal and I know I should be able to get the deal done. I still have leads that are coming in, so I am still working those. I will begin a new mailing at the start of May, so I am just getting the few misc. calls throughout the rest of this month, and I'll start the new one in another week or so. I'll keep you updated.

Hello BP Community, 

Its been a little while since I posted to this thread, even the site in general, so I just wanted to put an update to what happened on my last campaign. I have recently encountered a new challenge in not only trying to build my real estate business, but to also manage a fast growing landscaping business that I own and operate. I want to speak on this because I know there are a lot of people in very similar situations like me who work a full time job, and are still striving towards building their REI company. I am learning a lot as I continue on this journey, and as each day passes I am getting better at managing my time so that I can really focus on the different ventures that I have going on.

When I started this campaign it was during the down time of my busier season with the landscaping, so I had more time to field calls, work with clients, and overall put more focus on my REI company. When this season picked back up my business has actually more than doubled this year, so I have really not had the time to focus on calls coming in from my campaign, following up, tracking results of my marketing, etc. The property that I got under contract had the time ticking on me, and it was very challenging trying to manage both companies. This is new for me, so I am still learning how to incorporate systems to automate my business more where it doesn't demand so much attention from me primarily.

Well, as far as the deal went....I had buyers who were interested in the property, but they were sending me offers much less than was needed to make the deal work, so I kept running into dead ends. It was hard trying to show the property after finishing up with work, and it was frustrating when I rushed over to do a showing only to be low-balled by people with the money to purchase but we clearly not really interested in pursuing the deal seriously. The seller ended up getting approached by someone she knew who was interested in the property, and they made her an offer. The seller called me up and informed me of this, but still emphasized that they had not given her an EM deposit, so if I brought her a buyer then the first person with the check had the property. I ended up getting a call from a broker off one of my CL ads and after talking we ended up settling on her paying me a $1,000 referral fee for the property, which was ok since I'm a licensee. She also is going to serve as a mentor for me in teaching me more on the broker side of the business as well as investing.  The way I seen it, yeah I was "supposed" to make about a $3k fee, but not only was my contract expired with the seller, she also had someone who was pursuing the property, so instead of making nothing on the deal, I wasn't too mad about what I made. My landscaping business had me very busy, so I figured this way I could still help the lady sell her property so she could move, and I could make something on the deal.

I tell this story to say this. It is not easy at all being an active investor while working a full time job, but thats not to say that it is impossible. I am at the stage now where I am running multiple companies, and I have to just do a better job at allocating my time more efficiently. I like doing both businesses, so I will just have to keep networking and learning from others who are either doing something similar to me, or who have done it in the past with success. I am always open to positive advice on this subject, and the more I learn I am sure I will be able to do both with much success. 

I have missed a lot of leads recently and have not been able to field the calls that have been coming in from my prior marketing campaigns, so until I get a better handle on things I will do a smaller campaign for this next one so I at least still keep the leads coming in. I figure I'll practice with a smaller number of leads then gradually increase my marketing budget as I get better with multi-tasking. I will be sure to keep you updated on how things go. I will start my new campaign the beginning of July, and in the meantime follow up with the people I have missed. Until next time.....

@Larmon Cummings Jr

 thanks for the update Larmon.  Also thank you for sharing your journey.  Best of luck to you bro.


This is my thought on the subject. If you want to own a landscape company then make it the best landscape company in your area. Make that your flow. Push all extra cash into a PASSIVE cash trickle. Build your company to a point where you can step back THEN turn that second trickle into a flow. A lot of people want 2 flows out of 2 businesses but too often when focusing on 2 businesses they only put 50% into each business. This is when their 2 flows turn into 2 trickles. 

Interested to find out how things are going for you. I always enjoy reading about other's RE journeys.

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