With a long track record of proven success, Direct Mail is the cornerstone of marketing for most businesses – yet most real estate investors pass on it because they do not know how to effectively create and manage a campaign or even worse they throw away tons of cash jumping into a poorly executed campaign.
1. Identify your target market
Whether you have decided you want to market in your zip code or in another state, sending mail to every household in that area could be a huge expense with low response rates. Rather than a shotgun approach I would suggest that you narrow your targeted group even further. Your looking to identify a group of distressed homeowners such as those who are 60 to 90 days late on their mortgage or who may be facing foreclosure. Recent divorcees, probate listings, recent Chapter 13 filings are other examples of motivated sellers along with absentee owners, free and clear owners or owners with expired listings. As you can see there is any number of highly targeted groups available.
2. Invest in a mailing list
Now that you have identified a targeted group you need to find out how to acquire the right mailing list, and if the list is not commercially available, can it be compiled? If it is available to purchase, you’ll want to be sure it’s from a reputable source. You don’t want a huge percentage of postcards being returned or even worse delivered to unqualified leads where they’ll just be tossed in the trash.
3. Develop the message
Whether you using a postcard or a letter, good copy sells. A strong headline should draw in your reader and the copy needs to personally engage them by addressing their unique situation. Make sure your copy is simple, short and concise. The reader needs to understand the message in one read-through or it’ll most likely get tossed. Let the reader know who you are and how you can help them.
Each mailer should have a strong, trackable call to action. A unique toll-free 800 number is a great call to action that can be tracked. An easy to remember web address is also a simple to act upon call to action. But keep it simple, people will not act on impulse if there is a number of steps they need to follow.
4. Keep the design simple
It’s been my experience that images and graphics do not help increase the response rates. I have sent out thousands of mail campaigns and have found that images actually reduced the effectiveness of the mailer. I know it seems to go against what most marketers would tell you, but this comes from some very comprehensive testing, at great cost to me – so trust me on this one.
It is rare for any solicitation to work in a single instance. You may get a trickle of responses with the first send – but for the best results, try a drip campaign. Each lead should receive 2 or 3 messages from you – each a slight variation of the theme.
6. Test and Measure
Direct mail marketing is a proven strategy for lead generation, but you don’t want to jump in blind. It’s important to test and measure the results of each campaign. Thankfully testing is easy. If you send out 10,000 postcards and get 500 phone calls you’ve got a 5% return on you investment.
Here’s an example test: Try selecting a zip code and send out two versions of the same message, one on a 4×6 glossy card and the other on an oversized yellow postcard (or perhaps two versions on the same postcard but with different copy). Each version should have it’s own trackable 800 number. This will allow you to see which version had a higher response rate. This can be replicated a few times until you have some solid copy. Now you can send this campaign out to your entire market rather than risk your budget with untested copy.
I have been practicing these Real Estate Marketing tips with great success for a number of years and can confidently say that well executed direct mail campaigns have driven my REI business to levels I had not imagined possible.
In any business, financial success is directly tied to lead generation. However, marketing can be a daunting, time consuming task. The good news is there are a number of organizations out there who can help you with any one of these steps. It’s very important to research every aspect of your marketing and potential partners before committing your marketing budget.