I was a part of a discussion that started with the question “what marketing strategies such as postcards, yellow letters, Craigslist, direct phone calls, etc are resulting in the most amount of seller leads for you?”
Very Targeted List
It seems from the comments that a lot of people send direct mail. One person weighed in on Direct Mail being his go to marketing technique, with a letter that he has tested over time and that he uses with good solid targeted lists. I do have to agree here. If you are sending direct mail to a particular area in general or just to absentee owners your results are going to be very very slim. If however you target your list with more qualifiers such as have owned the home for so long, own it free and clear, have code violations, recently passed away . . . the more the targeted the list is towards a motivated seller, the better your results will be.
Once upon a time I worked with a direct mail marketing system, it kept all our lists online and we scheduled mail in advance, as mail came back we could research and update addresses, etc. Anyway, through their tracking I was getting a better call back rate and they wanted to know why. The reason was I was not just targeting their lists, I was picking their list and then narrowing it down a bit more with my own research, which gave me better call back.
Note that MAREI has a trial and discount with Realeflow where you can sift and sort a very targeted direct mail list.
Personalized and Different
Another person weighed in that he also used Direct Mail marketing but that rather than the Yellow Letter that everyone is using, he has designed his own personalized letter. Here I also agree. First and foremost have a very targeted list. However some of the most motivated sellers are going to end up on a lot of buyer’s mailing lists and get a lot of direct mail marketing pieces.
You need to make your direct mail marketing piece stand out from the crowd. For me, the yellow letters just seem so costly and gimmicky . . . and as a person who has reached the age where good light and big print is a must, most of the yellow letters that look like they are hand written are VERY HARD TO READ.
I have gone back through all of my really really good deals, and for the most part my seller was over the age of 50, which tells me they probably need good light and easy to read print as well. So those fake hand written letters are out, because my motivated sellers CAN”T READ THEM.
I have several personalized letters and postcards. I have built them in Click2Mail.com and use this service to send my mail, which for the most part is about the same price if I were to do all the printing, stuffing and mailing myself and even cheaper that having me pay someone in house to do it.
I don’t do this, but I am a firm believer that if you were to actually physically hand address and stamp with real stamps all your direct mail pieces you would get a better result. In that same thought if you use greeting card or not card envelopes that are not the standard business envelope, that you will get better results.
This was mentioned in the discussion several times. One person weighed in that cold calling on FSBO can have good or bad results, but if you again had a more targeted list that the cold calling could be more effective. So if you do buy a motivated seller list, look for the ones that have a phone number and give them a call.
It’s all in your Message
One person in the discussion agreed with all of the above. He further explains that you need to target your message to the list. So a message you might send to an absentee owner should be different from a code violation that should be different from what you send estate property owners.
For myself I have a targeted letter for the list. I also have a postcard that specifically sends them to my website for a special report that can help them in their situation. I also mix in a few generic we buy houses post cards.
Don’t Give Up
The important thing in marketing is to be persistent and consistent. Don’t try one marketing method, especially direct mail just one time. This person said he tried Bandit signs and found them a waste in month 1 through 6 and then in month 6, his signs netted him a deal that made him almost 100K.
I have found that in direct mail, they eventually tuck away one of your letters or postcards . . . and then call you when they are ready to sell. That time to sell may come next week, next month, next year or in several years. I have had calls from direct mail come back 3 years after my last mailing to them.
Driving for Dollars
One of the best targeted lists is to write down addresses of run down and vacant houses as you drive neighborhoods and to then mail those owners. I am also going to include in here to take your returned direct mail, those pieces that come back because the mailing address is wrong. Do a little research, skip trace, track these owners down. The leads from these two sources will be stellar leads if you can track down the responsible party.
For these leads, start with tax records and send a letter. Look up the name on social media, maybe you can reach the owner through Facebook or LinkedIn. Talk to the neighbor, one house on the block probably has contact info on the responsible party and the whole scoop on the issue. Look the name up on sites like ZabaSearch.com to see if you can’t find a phone number and cold call them. Contact city codes, they might be trying to get the house cleaned up or know something. Run a skip trace to find a name and a number.
What was my input on this whole conversation . . .
well here goes . . .
DIRECT MAIL SUCKS!
I still do it, but it does not generate half the leads my websites do. However if you can match your direct mail efforts and your cold calling efforts with a website, your results are going to get better.
As an investor I get a TON of direct mail as I am an absentee owner and I always look on the card or letter for a website so I can learn more about the buyer – no go – most don’t have websites. I look for an email so I can email them as I don’t want to talk to anyone yet, I want to get to know them better. Most direct mail pieces are lacking that. My only option is to call.
So I call – and the voice mail is full. (I call a lot of bandit signs to find voice mail full as well)
So here is what I recommend:
At one point I just went for the awesome website, however in the past two to three years all my competition caught up with me – at one point my website was ranking higher the HomeVestors and other big companies, not any longer – we are all jockeying for position on Google.
So now I have to work at it! Here’s what I do:
Have an Awesome Website – I at one point built my own, recently I switched to a good online marketing company that provides websites for investors and my conversion rates went through the roof.
I also refer out this website, so if you wanted to check out this service you can click here for an introductory webinar.
Be Personal – be personal and local on your website so it can be different from everyone else and so the sellers can connect with you and see you know what you are doing. That means you need to talk like a person in your text and blog posts so people can get to know you and you need to put names of the cities and states where you work in the text. So if you are trying to buy houses in the Kansas City Missouri area . . . or trying to target investors in the Kansas City Metro area, you want to put the words Kansas City in your text where it makes sense.
Free Info – have information on situations that sellers face, this will build credibility and if you can have a few free reports they can request, then you might have a reason for them to give you an email. Although I get more houses submitted than I do requests for the free reports.
Craigslist Ads – post ads on craigslist daily – there is a special trick to getting them to show up and to get people going to your website – I am still perfecting, but I am sure craigslist will change their rules about the time I figure this out.
My website provider has some great information on Craigslist ads that you can grab here.
Facebook – you need to have a well rounded Facebook Business page optimized and posted to regularly. Very good tool – if not the best – for me at least in building a buyers list. Second only to face to face networking at the local REIA meetings and Meetups.
Then Direct Mail – here I have several different key lists of people that I market to and no absentee owner lists. My target is people who have owned their property a long time and usually an owner occupied owner is better, that is downsizing, moving to a nursing home, or recently passed away. My target is really old people and deceased people and their heirs.
So I have special reports targeting downsizing, selling mom and dads house and dealing with inherited houses.
You need to know that you need to send more than one marketing piece. That if you are mailing absentee owners, half the time the house you are mailing about was sold last year. And the motivated seller who needs to sell TODAY is not waiting for you to send them a post card, they are on Google finding your competition.
Where direct mail really helps is for that elderly person who saves everything and puts your marketing piece away – no one else sent them anything, but you sent them 4 or 5 letters and postcards and they tucked them away for later when they down size. Then when the time comes, 6 months or 3 years later, they or their heirs call you and you get an awesome deal that no one else knows about.
It also gets people who are receiving your marketing to go to your website and 6 months later, through the magic of cookies, seo and retargeting, those people come back – and this some how helps you with search engine ranking – the relevant traffic to your website from the postcards you mail out.
Google / Facebook Ads – my new website company offers an easy way to be a big company and put cookies on peoples computers every time they visit my site. These cookies tell google and facebook that these folks have been to my web page and when google or facebook shows them an ad, it just might be mine as they have already been to my website – this is retargeting – and it is how you see that ad for what ever the day after you were browsing that website for what ever.
Now you will have to excuse me – I need to go do may daily Craigslist ads and Interact a bit on Facebook.
BTW – Facebook is awesome at generating investor buyer leads, craigslist and the website generate the seller leads.
See full thread of comments on this topic on BiggerPockets.com
Article provided by Kim Tucker, Marketing Manager for www.KCInvest.com, if you are looking for a property to purchase, be sure to visit KCInvest and register as a buyer. The Tuckers at KCInvest have been buying and selling houses in the Kansas City Metro since 1999 and have recently expanded their buying net to the Lake of the Ozarks.