"Dumb question" about my Direct Mail Campaign

62 Replies

I CANNOT FIND the answer to these basic question on BP (I'm sure I'm just not looking in the right spot - Aahh!) HERE IS MY DIRECT MAIL CAMPAIGN PLAN. 6 mailers (at least) to a targeted list of approx 500 properties (vacant and distressed found by driving neighborhoods once a week eventually growing to 500) once a month for 6 monthes, scrub the list, keep sending mailers to the remaining and add new properties to get back up to 500.

OK, my 4 QUESTIONS are: Should I send a mix of "handwritten" personal letters (definitely not yellow letter since everyone else seems to be doing this - hah. Planning to send a small folded white sheet with blue "handwriting" (I turned my handwriting into a font) writing in a small envelope) and postcards (planning oversized) in my 6 step campaign?? If yes, should my personal letter seem like it is from a different person than my postcard and not have my business name?? Should I write a different message in each personal letter and each postcard or should it be the same message?? Does anyone have suggestions for my marketing campaign?? THANK YOU!!!

I would recommend a mix, yes. Each letter should be different from, but building on the last one. I would keep my postcards standard, and use them to offer web address or email. I do not believe you would see any benefit from appearing to be different people or entities. Be yourself. Be the person these people are going to talk to on the phone. Real and genuine.

Try not to over think it. There is no magic bullet, no mystery or magic. No formula that will make people call. Using hand written letters, one color over another, these things are part of the science of marketing, with the sole purpose of getting your message opened and read. No amount of tricks of the trade will motivate a non motivated seller.

So....send out your message. If you're persistent and consistent as you intend to be, people will call. You'll convert those prospects to leads and leads to deals.

Hi Amanda,
If you'd care to listen to it, I payed out my entire direct mail strategy in a pod cast here on BP a few weeks ago. Show # 21, you can find it from the BPblog under the learn tab above.

But the quick answer is I use a 5 month cycle: 4 letters and a post card. The letters each build on the last. The post card gives out my web address and email, which are no where to be found in the letters. When I get to the end of the cycle, I refresh my list and start over with letter 1.

I hear you. Good luck to you. My wholesaling journey started out of a pretty bad situation as you will hear....I totally understand the motivation factor. We're always here to help. Everything you need can be found right here on the site.

Leaving a job and at home with kids is a great motivator! Sounds like you have a plan moving forward @Amanda Fox ! Keep taking steps forward.

I try not to question the steps I take. Seeing how I pulled the systematic steps from people like @Jerry Puckett and other veterans... If it works for all of them, why fear if it will work for you?

Best of luck! Love to hear how it goes!

Thanks Taylor for the encouragement!!! Have you moved into full time investing?? What other marketing strategies do you implement? I'm going to watch Jerry's podcast now, can't wait!! I grew up close to you, btw, in West Lafayette! Good Luck to you!

Hi @Amanda Fox ! -- Two things to consider:

(1) Figure out a way to distinguish your materials from your competitors - other investors. One concern I have with letters is they often look VERY similar. You may work hard to touch people once a month and they may not even realize you're the same person that mailed to them last month. That's one reason I'm not a huge fan of letters with no branding or identity.

(2) This point builds on #1 in that often newer investors seem unaware that their competitors are pounding the same lists, and also seem surprised when they send out their first two mailings with lackluster results. Direct mail is a game of frequency and building a psychological AWARENESS of you and TRUST that you could solve their problem. I often say "People are not 'motivated' just because they get your letter/postcard. They are motivated by factors beyond your control. You need to be IN TOUCH with them at the point that they become motivated."

Hope that adds a bit to the great advice you received above.

Wow, thank you @Dev Horn , that was super helpful!! I'm starting to rethink some things, thanks to your comments. For one, I want to be an honest business with integrity down to the details and I'm questioning this whole letter idea that seems like its handwritten but it really isn't. It may seem small, but I think I may go small letter typed with our business name/logo and postcards with our business name/logo. Thank you!

There isn't one thing that works in all markets. What works well in Texas or Florida might not pull at all in California. I've been sending out tens of thousands of mailers every year for quite a long time now. The key to success is testing & tracking, testing & tracking, testing & tracking.

Hi @Amanda Fox ,
I just wanted to reiterate something I said before. The purpose of using "handwriting" different colors of ink, different envelopes is to give your message a fighting chance of getting opened and read. That is part of the science of marketing.

The more time your message is read, the more likely you'll connect at the right time. We are not trying to fool anyone with our marketing, we are trying to cut through all the other "noise". One reason Post Cards get such a low response rate is that many many times they land in the trash without so much as a glance.

So while I'm with you 100% on the integrity thing, I don't think there is a thing wrong with going the extra mile to get noticed. You have a service to offer that you genuinely believe in. In order for others to believe, you have to get your foot in the door.

Just sayin'

Rising House values are getting better which tends to make bandit signs a more worthy marketing tool. However I look at bandit signs like I view swap coolers.

They have their place however who would use a swap cooler if they could afford a nice air conditioner?

Always like @Jerry Puckett 's ideas and insights (and Michael's)...

We received an absentee owner letter this week for one of our rent houses. It was sort of a middle ground solution in that it was:
(a) a LETTER but
(b) it was in a normal TYPED font and had a company name/"logo" at the top, however,
(c) in the letter, it says "I'm a one man operation, so typically I can pay more than the other guys with all the expensive marketing.", and finally
(d) the envelope was addressed by hand to improve the odds of it being opened.

We liked this example because it combined aspects of the "small player/personal touch" with "this is a business/I can do what I say here". And the handwritten envelope got us to open the letter.

I <3 Marketing!

@Dev Horn @Jerry Puckett Hello Dev! In your example of the letter you opened It didn't matter that it wasn't a yellow letter with red ink etc? Can I venture to say that if all I could do right now is to send typed letters in invitation style hand written envelopes, that the right person who gets three, four or five letters from me will call me if they are motivated to sell?

Hi @Patrick Martinez - what I liked about the example I mentioned was that it combined the handwritten envelope (to encourage opening) with the professional image of the typed letter and that "company logo" at the top - even tho the investor said in the letter that he is not a big company. At the bottom, it has the typical "please save this letter with your other important real estate information"...

It could just be ME - because I respond better to a professional approach - but I would be more likely to actually SAVE this guy's letter compared to one on yellow paper in red ink (none of my other "important real estate info" is handwritten on yellow paper).

Many people will respond to the "handwritten letter", so I am not saying they don't work, but now my quick answer to your question is YES, I think your typed white letters in handwritten envelopes could work well, especially with people that appreciation a professional image & approach to business PLUS it could help them to REMEMBER YOU by the unique appearance of your letterhead.

Whatever you do, share with us so we can learn from your experience!

Patrick.

If I may take a stab at your question.

Short of lacking social correctness it doesn't matter much what you send as long as youre there when a need arises.

I didn't pay much attention to an ambulance until I was wheeled into one.

The various techniques used IMHO are for a single purpose and that is to get your mail opened and read then responded to.

Understand that business is a numbers game and marketing is the key assuming your capture and fulfillment systems are in place.

Originally posted by Amanda Fox:
Aaron Mazzrillo, would you mind telling me roughly how many you send and how many actual deals you close in a year?? Do you also do bandit signs? Thank you!!

More than 50,000 pieces per year and I do not do bandit signs. I average around 25 deals a year, but some of those deals consist of multiple property acquisitions and I count them as one deal. I bought 4 condos and a house from a guy for $1M (wholesaled them all so I never wrote that check). I also purchased 2 houses, a small apartment bldg and a piece of land from another seller (also wholesaled all of them, but kept the lot F&C so I could use it as a money stretcher in the future). I came close on a 14 house seller financed acquisition a few months ago, but got beat out by another local investor who paid what I would consider a retail price just to capture the financing.

I don't rehab and flip very often. I've been down that road and don't much care for that business model. Most of my deals are wholesale properties. The remaining few I keep as rentals. I think I only rehabbed and flipped 2 last year, but both were almost 6 figure paydays. The last 3 houses I wholesaled over the last couple weeks (all to the same buyer) were $14K, $5K, $4K checks and I have one in escrow now that I am keeping. I purchased it subject to her exiting 30 year 5% fixed rate loan. I also just closed today on a 4.3 acre lot that I am in negotiation to trade with a guy who owns a 3 unit apartment bldg I would prefer to keep. The land is worth $60K-90K. The building needs complete rehab and will be worth $150K when done. I paid $22K for the land (using a friend's money). If I get the building, I figure I will be into it for around $30-40K for rehab + the cost of the lot. If not, I'll list and sell the land. Lots of irons in the fire.

Just remember this line when talking to sellers (even if you are nowhere close to closing a deal), "Do you have anything else you might consider selling?" It is amazing what people will suddenly remember that they own and are willing to part with.

@Dev Horn SUPER helpful to hear about a real world example. I keep trying to put myself in the place of someone receiving a letter, but this was really helpful. And it answers my issue perfectly of wanting to convey a professional image in a personal way, maybe mainly because our business is, IMO, a good blend of both. @Michael Quarles , I thought you were going to skewer me when I said I wasn't going to use yellow letters :). Thank you for your really good advice about just sending something regularly that sets you apart and gets your mail opened and don't get so bogged down in the details, just get it done!!!

Amanda.

I would never ridacule someone for not using a yellow letter. After all they aren't a fix all solution and frankly having a variety of touch tools is a better implementation of marketing dollars. Yellow letters also have a negative side as well so you'll be fine with your solution.

Think about cheap generic greeting cards from a dollar store type business. They will work great too.

Also you may want to consider adding your COI to your monthly campaign.

@Aaron Mazzrillo , thanks for the more detailed information! Its really making me think that we need to not be so narrow in our business plan and expand beyond fix and flip (my background is in architecture and construction management, btw, hence the bent toward fix and flip. And we have approximately 1 mil dollars in OPM to invest which although that is a lot of capital it won't last us indefinitely and we intend to grow our own capital and reinvest slowly in buy and hold. ANYWAY, I write all this mainly for advice from ANYONE about this business plan. My hubs, btw is a real estate broker to toss into the mix) K, back from the tangent. I am realizing that maybe we need to let the opportunities speak to us about what to do with them instead narrowly always doing fix and flip. Thank you for the window into your world that is helping me realize this!!!!

I didn't think anyone could add much to @Jerry Puckett's initial response to the original post however, this has been a great thread. Even my buddy @Aaron Mazzrillo chimed in.

The only thing I'd like to add is that so much of direct mail (and other direct response marketing) is timing. Get the right message to the right person at the right time.

I liken it to fishing. Fish are often fickle, just like people. One day they're biting on worms and another day salmon eggs. I'm talking about fish, of course.

If you break down some of the more popular reasons why people might sell an absentee owner house (negative cash flow, liability, etc.) and translate these issues into stories with solutions, like parables, then people who open and read your piece might just bite on your Unique Selling Proposition.

For instance, the resentment that festers in the grandmother whose Daughter is off doing who-knows-what while the non-paying adult grand kids (and their friends) live high (no hog) in the house that grandma pays for. That action ain't going to go on forever. Tell the stories that the owner (or heirs) might connect with. Each letter is an installment in a soap opera, of sorts.

If you stop and think about it, you can overlay the drama of people's lives on a property ownership timeline and see how loves nests become rat nests.

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