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Brandon Foken
  • Wholesaler
  • San Francisco, CA
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My Direct Mail Campaign Results Have Been Atrocious

Brandon Foken
  • Wholesaler
  • San Francisco, CA
Posted Oct 28 2013, 13:21

Hey There BPers,

Myself and my business partner have been spending a significant amount of time on our direct mail campaign and so far, our results have been subpar to say the least. We have sent out a total of 395 letters and received a whopping 5 responses. 1 was a prank call. 2 were of the "please remove me from your list" variety. Our one success was getting an appointment with a seller, so in reality we have had 1 good response out of 395 total letters. I'm hoping to get some insights and ideas/critiques for increasing our response rate. The details of our campaigns are below.

We have slowly been gathering addresses so our list is split up, one campaign is 149 people and the other is 246 people. We have sent the different groups different pieces to try and test what will get the best response.

The first group received a standard yellow letter stuffed inside of a handwritten (in blue sharpie) 6x9" manilla envelope (link). I also used some muscle car stamps instead of the regular American flag ones to hopefully make it seem more "friendly". Our response rate was 4 of 149. Here is a picture of the finished letter:

The second group of 246 received a different mailer altogether. We used an A6 invitation-style envelope that was handwritten in black ink. Instead of a yellow letter, we sent our message on standard white copy paper. This letter was placed in the mail on 10/19 and we've only received one phone call and one FB like from our efforts. Here is the copy:

"

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Stephen Keighery
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  • Rental Property Investor
  • New Orleans, LA
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Stephen Keighery
Pro Member
  • Rental Property Investor
  • New Orleans, LA
Replied Mar 28 2019, 11:22

What a great thread, I just read 5 years of knowledge in one sitting. I wanted to ask @Sharon Vornholt and @Dev Horn or anyone else that is using direct mail successfully how you handle the branding aspect. I know that most people go for handwritten looking postcards but how does that reconcile with including strong branding in your communications. 

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Sharon Vornholt
  • Goshen, KY
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Sharon Vornholt
  • Goshen, KY
Replied Mar 28 2019, 12:31

That's very area specific Stephen. I always like to come across as a professional myself, so that directs all my marketing pieces.

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Dev Horn
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#3 Marketing Your Property Contributor
  • Flipper/Rehabber
  • Arlington, TX
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Dev Horn
Pro Member
#3 Marketing Your Property Contributor
  • Flipper/Rehabber
  • Arlington, TX
Replied Mar 28 2019, 12:48
Originally posted by @Stephen Keighery:

What a great thread, I just read 5 years of knowledge in one sitting. I wanted to ask @Sharon Vornholt and @Dev Horn or anyone else that is using direct mail successfully how you handle the branding aspect. I know that most people go for handwritten looking postcards but how does that reconcile with including strong branding in your communications. 

In 2019, we're dealing with very slick competitive offers from VC-backed companies like Opendoor and Offerpad.  I was never a big fan of hand-written pieces and like them even less now.  There might be a small segment of the market that would prefer to sell to a "local guy" that sends out postcards with fake handwriting (which is now used by the local car dealers and lots of others).  I think there is a much larger segment of the market looking for assurance that they are dealing with a professional person / business who has the capability to turn a house into money quickly and easily.

With no branding, your mailing will have only one purpose - to generate a few calls, one time.  With branding, even if your piece is tossed in the recycling, the homeowner can be reminded of who you are and what you do.

Remember, our mailers are not what convinces someone to sell their house.  They have to have that need and the mailer has to either (a) hit right at that time of need OR, more likely, (b) there were a series of mailers received over months or years that caused that homeowner to think of you when the need arises.  Branding is critical for (b).

I still prefer full-color postcards over letters, and still prefer absentee-owners over owner-occupants.  Always use a list with at least 40% equity.

I wish you much success!

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Sharon Vornholt
  • Goshen, KY
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Sharon Vornholt
  • Goshen, KY
Replied Mar 28 2019, 12:56

What @Dev Horn said.

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Jerryll Noorden#2 Marketing Your Property Contributor
  • Flipper/Rehabber
  • Wilton, CT
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Jerryll Noorden#2 Marketing Your Property Contributor
  • Flipper/Rehabber
  • Wilton, CT
Replied Mar 31 2019, 12:15
Originally posted by @Stephen Keighery:

What a great thread, I just read 5 years of knowledge in one sitting. I wanted to ask @Sharon Vornholt and @Dev Horn or anyone else that is using direct mail successfully how you handle the branding aspect. I know that most people go for handwritten looking postcards but how does that reconcile with including strong branding in your communications. 

 DMM is all about credibility. If you think that a hand written letter will give more credibility you are wrong. It is the exact opposite.

Hand written letters only are for people stupid enough to really think you sent that letter out to just them. Most people today know better... and when you are caught doing that people will feel like you tried to trick them.

Besides, if you write a hand written letter and put it in an envelope, it utterly defeats the purpose no? They would have to see and open the envelope before they will know it is a hand written letter. By that time it really doesnt matter if it is a neatly printed letter or a tricky hand written letter.

Secondly..

You are targeting motivated sellers correct?

Do you think someone in foreclosure CARES if the mailer is hand written? I really don't think so. ALL they care about is.. CAN you frigging buy my house fast in cash or not?

And in THIS case I genuinely believe (KNOW) that a neat credible professional typed letter with company letterhead, a local number, a picture of the person they are dealing with will do a LOT more for credibility and this weird letter "a stranger" wrote me wanting to buy my house in cash... 

This makes sense right? Of course it does, yet everyone STILL get fooled by people that own these marketing companies that constantly try to convince newbies to do hand written letters!

Want to send mailers out? Dude do hand written letters, do post cards, do pro letters, it doesnt matter. Do not TRICK people into opening the letter. Be genuine, let your message be genuine and straight forward.

It is not about tricking people to read the letter.. 

its about convincing them you are a real legitimate honest home buyer capable of buying their house in cash.

Now for one sec think on your own .

Here is someone that claims they can buy your house in cash... YET they can't afford a dang printer and some neat printer paper and print a clean professional letter? How are you going to buy my house if you can't even buy a printer?!

Does a hand written letter work? sure? Maybe? I am simply saying... if that hand written letter worked, I am TELLING you a printed letter would have worked too!

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Rob Massopust
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Santa Ana CA [South Coast Metro]
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Rob Massopust
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Santa Ana CA [South Coast Metro]
Replied Apr 18 2019, 20:59

Postcards might be a better approach. Make sure your message is consistent and frequent and most importantly beneficial. 

When I hear will buy your house all cash you just know its a low ball outfit.

The problem with most marketing approaches is the message is not about the customer and its about you.

People want to know whats in it for them, what problem are you solving, are you helping them or just trying to get a property 30% below market. Dont forget you are competing with the 1000's of agents that are doing the same thing.

Come up with a better approach. I get these letters and its nauseating. I get agents calling me all the time and I humor them and listen to their pitch and 99% of their message does not help me or do anything.

Do I have an answer - no sorry.

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Replied Jun 27 2019, 16:13

Learn a lot from this discussion!

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Jay Hinrichs#3 All Forums Contributor
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Lake Oswego OR Summerlin, NV
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Jay Hinrichs#3 All Forums Contributor
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Lake Oswego OR Summerlin, NV
Replied Jun 27 2019, 16:44
Originally posted by @Dev Horn:
Originally posted by @Stephen Keighery:

What a great thread, I just read 5 years of knowledge in one sitting. I wanted to ask @Sharon Vornholt and @Dev Horn or anyone else that is using direct mail successfully how you handle the branding aspect. I know that most people go for handwritten looking postcards but how does that reconcile with including strong branding in your communications. 

In 2019, we're dealing with very slick competitive offers from VC-backed companies like Opendoor and Offerpad.  I was never a big fan of hand-written pieces and like them even less now.  There might be a small segment of the market that would prefer to sell to a "local guy" that sends out postcards with fake handwriting (which is now used by the local car dealers and lots of others).  I think there is a much larger segment of the market looking for assurance that they are dealing with a professional person / business who has the capability to turn a house into money quickly and easily.

With no branding, your mailing will have only one purpose - to generate a few calls, one time.  With branding, even if your piece is tossed in the recycling, the homeowner can be reminded of who you are and what you do.

Remember, our mailers are not what convinces someone to sell their house.  They have to have that need and the mailer has to either (a) hit right at that time of need OR, more likely, (b) there were a series of mailers received over months or years that caused that homeowner to think of you when the need arises.  Branding is critical for (b).

I still prefer full-color postcards over letters, and still prefer absentee-owners over owner-occupants.  Always use a list with at least 40% equity.

I wish you much success!

your right I just have started to experience the new wholesalers  open door open pad and others.. they are licensed for real brokerages first off not a bunch of unlicensed beginners..  backed by large money.. but still trying to get a deal.

I sent my Summerlin home in on line they offered what I paid for it 3 years ago and before I put 100k into it.. LOL so they are trying to get the best deal.. then my house here in Lake Oswego which is a 7 figure house.. before I never ever got a call to buy it I am getting one every two weeks now.. little different approach fill in the info.. they spit back a on line response with   in my case 650k cash now or we can list it with one of our special agents and U should expect 1.1 or 1.2 your choice.. so to me its almost more of a listing type deal I don't think many wholesalers even the big boys are going to be risking the top 1/3 of the market.. I could be wrong and I guess well if I did take the 650k someone would have made 350k flipping it  :)  

I think wholesaling as done with the letters is still alive and well in low value assets  D  C type tough neighbors still the way to get rentals for those that want high risk C D class rentals.

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Sharon Vornholt
  • Goshen, KY
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Sharon Vornholt
  • Goshen, KY
Replied Jun 29 2019, 13:13

I have found after many years of doing this that a professional looking direct mail piece gives you more credibility every single time that something that looks handwritten.

Sellers are much more sophisticated than they were a few years ago.  A strong personal brand is a must.  Marketing is how you get leads. Branding is why they choose YOU. It really is that simple. And, a website is a must.