I’ve gotten really into Timothy Ferris’ podcast as of late (in addition to, not instead of, the BiggerPockets Podcast, of course). And I found myself thoroughly enamored by his discussion with legendary hacker Sammy Kamkar. Not only will this podcast scare the hell out of you as they discuss ways hackers can steal all of your financial information by waiving their phone near yours (seriously), but they also had a very interesting talk on internet dating, that yes, does somehow relate to real estate investment in a roundabout way.
Basically, Tim and Sammy had set out to find the best way to navigate the muddy waters of online dating. I have no experience with this morass, but what they said seemed to ring true. Basically, they created a bunch of fake profiles for Sammy with a variety of different pictures and information testing each one against each other.
They also created fake female profiles to see what kind of messages they would get and in turn, sent out a bunch of messages to different women to see what would get the best response. They noticed that attractive women got, well, they got a lot of messages. Hundreds, in fact.
But most were all the same or at least had the same title: “Hello,” “You look interesting,” “Want to talk?” And of course the less savory ones that I will spare you from.
So they then went about testing various email headlines to see what got the best response. They found the best response rate by far was from the header, “F*** you.”
Why? No, it’s not because it was mean. If they continued being mean in the message, they didn’t get a response. It was simply because they actually got the person to click on the message. In a swamp of hundreds of emails with the same, tedious (or gross) titles, being that one oddball that makes someone say “huh?” or “what?” is critical.
And of course we see this same dynamic at play in most media today. There are those media and political figures that just seem to be trying to stir up controversy to keep their name in the news. And now a whole cottage industry has been built around getting outraged over what someone on the other side said on social media. Then the other side gets angry over the overreaction on the other side, and the circus goes on.
Indeed, as CGP Grey noted, these sides aren’t even really arguing with each other, but instead with their own side about how outrageous the other side is. But I digress.
How This Relates to Real Estate Investment
So how does online dating and political outrage relate to real estate investment? Well, it’s simple: You have to stand out.
I was once at someone’s house whom we had sent a letter to because they were behind on their mortgage. He pulled out a massive stack of letters, probably six inches thick. “These are all the letters I’ve gotten so far about people wanting to buy my house,” he said.
It was a bit of punch in the gut. Sending a letter to someone in foreclosure makes you one of a hundred people they might call back.
Basically, when it comes to anything, but particularly getting the attention of a motivated seller, you have to stand out in some way, form or fashion. You cannot say hello and expect them to respond.
Now, please understand me: I’m not saying to write “F*** you” on your marketing letters. (Please don’t do that.) But instead, make your letter more unique. Send it in a yellow letter perhaps, or a post card. Better yet, put your letter in large manila envelope. Try a service that prints on the front of the envelope in a manner that looks handwritten, at least at first glance. Or perhaps pay someone to actually handwrite them (we have done this in the past and noticed a definite uptick in callbacks).
Or maybe even go knock and talk if you’re up for it. It’s hard to ignore that.
Use Your Imagination
Whatever you do, don’t use those bulk envelopes with the transparent spot over the return address. Those things are automatically associated with either a bill or junk mail.
Or you can try to stand out by fishing where no one else is. A friend of mine has had by far his best success with mailing to properties he finds “driving for dollars.” These are basically vacant properties in rough condition in good areas. He just finds them driving around town and taking notes. The reason these mailings are successful is because the owner obviously doesn’t want this dilapidated home, and more importantly, there isn’t any competition. He stands out by default.
And of course, this isn’t only with marketing to sellers. It can be related to networking, marketing to tenants, employees, company branding, etc. Don’t do anything that will hurt your reputation, of course. But in today’s crowded market, it is more critical than ever to find ways to stand out from the competition.
What techniques do YOU use to stand out with your marketing efforts?
Let me know with a comment!