Lead Generation Method 1: Direct Mail
Despite what you may have heard, direct mail is still one of the most effective methods for generating seller leads for real estate investment businesses of any size.
Why does direct mail work so well?
With direct mail, you can generate a target list of motivated sellers from sources such as REI Printmail, Listability, ListSource and Mellisa Data, and send them a piece of mail that speaks directly to their needs.
You can buy a list of individuals who own a house in one city but live out of state (Absentee Owners).
Another great example would be a list of individuals who have recently received a Notice of Default letter (Pre-Foreclosure).
As discussed in Chapter 1, this is the reason it is so important to choose a niche before you start marketing.
An even better strategy is to start stacking these lists, and really pin-point sellers who NEED to sell their property.
Finding a list of out-of-state owners, who are also behind on payments, or taxes, is a much more valuable list because you are now stacking "motivations".
Now, before we get started, there is one thing you must understand about direct mail.
Direct mail is a numbers game. You should plan on mailing to the same list at least 3 - 5 times.
When setting your budget, be sure to factor this in. Don't spend your last $1,500 on a direct mail campaign hoping and praying you'll get a deal out of it.
Chances are, you won't. At least not at first.
The bulk of your responses and deals will come from mailer 3 - 5.
That's not to say you won't get calls or even deals from your first wave of mailers, but I wouldn't bet all your chips on that happening.
What you'll need to get started with direct mail
- Mailing list:
- Identify who you are going to mail. Here are a few suggestions of lists you can pull from the online resources mentioned above, or possibly your local courthouse. Absentee owners, pre-foreclosures, probate, tax delinquencies, and vacant houses.
- Direct mail piece:
- There are many different directions you can go with your mailer. The two most common options are either a letter (handwritten or typed) or a postcard. We will get into the benefits of each later in this chapter, and will also give you access to our preferred vendors.
- Trackable phone number:
- It is important to understand where your leads are coming from. Having a phone system like Profit Dial allows you to have a specific number for each campaign, so you know if you're marketing efforts are profitable. This allows you to keep doing what's working, and shut off what's not. Read this blog post and watch the video titled Automation #1 to learn how to set up your Profit Dial number in REI BlackBook
- Lead sheet:
- Leverage the lead sheets inside REI BlackBook to input the data you have collected from your prospects. Simply type in their information, and REI BlackBook does the rest. The property is automatically entered into your Property Pipeline, and your new lead is simultaneously entered as a new contact.
Use this lead generation method if you...
- ... are a technophobe - Don't like messing with this newfangled thing they call the Internetz?
- ... need high volume - If you need something that can scale up and generate a lot of motivated sellers.
- ... have some dinero - Direct mail can get pricey but you can control that by being selective when you buy your list.
The Direct Mail Process
Step 1: Get Your List
This is one of the most (if not THE MOST) critical steps in building a profitable direct mail campaign.
Your list will directly influence the success of your campaign.
If you have a bad list, then no matter how good your mailer is, or how great of a salesperson you are on the phone, you will struggle to generate quality leads.
And as a result, you will struggle to close deals on a regular basis.
The reason is pretty simple.
If the people on your list don't have some type of inherent motivation to sell, no amount of genius copywriting or salesmanship can change that.
Half of the work in marketing and sales is done when you've found people who need your service, and you put a compelling offer in front of them.
In this example of direct mail, that means doing the work, or paying the money for a quality list, and then putting an offer in front of that list in the form of a letter or postcard.
That brings us to the next step...
Step 2: Create Your Mailer
You can do some serious Google'in (that's a verb) and get about 842 different opinions on what mailer to use.
Here are some common questions we get...
- Postcard or letter?
- How big should my past card be?
- What color works best?
- Handwritten or typed?
- Blue in or black?
- Do I include a website or just my phone number?
- Do I lick the envelope or just tuck in the flap?
- Real stamp or not?
The real answer is? It depends.
I know that's not the answer you might be looking for, but unfortunately its the truth.
And we here at REI BlackBook are not in the business of just telling you what you want to hear to make you feel warm and fuzzy.
We're in the business of looking at the number and reporting back to you what we see working across the board.
So while you could scour the internet for the "silver bullet" of direct mail pieces (which some guru will conveniently charge you $150 for) I'd rather show you the postcard that is working for investors across the country and is consistently getting a solid response rate of 1.5% to 2%.
Are you ready for this?
There are a few reasons this postcard is a winner.
Let's talk about why it works so well.
For starters, the picture you see is an actual picture of the house you are trying to buy!
This is HUGE!
And most investors across the country are not doing this, so you're postcard will immediately stick out like a sore thumb, which will increase your response rates.
Another reason this works so well is that you are asking a question and referring to their specific property address.
So how do you get a unique property image on every single postcard?
You could manually go to Google and screenshot the most up-to-date image that you can get from Google street view, and append that to every single property, and spend the rest of your days in a fit of rage flipping between Goole Maps and an Excel Spreadsheet...
Or, you can use a company called REI Printmail who has the ability to pull a unique image for every single property address that you upload, AUTOMATICALLY!
This technology is game-changing, and the guys and gals at REI Printmail are revolutionizing the way investors send direct mail.
The postcards you see above are their's, and they use a technology called Accupix to pull the most up-to-date image from Google, and automatically apply it to every individual postcard.
If you're doing direct mail, and you're not using a picture of the property you are mailing to, then you are leaving money on the table.
Check out REI Printmail, and be sure to mention that you heard about them from REI BlackBook to get 10% off your first mailing.
They can also help you get your direct mail list as well!
Step 3: Send Your Mail
If you're using a service like REI Printmail, then they'll take care of this for you.
You can tell them:
- What list you want them to send to
- What postcard or letter template to send
- How often you want the mail sent
And that's it. Using a mail house is a great way to "outsource" your direct mail.
You don't have to worry about remembering to send next month's mail.
You don't have to run to the post office to buy stamps or drop off mail every month.
It's a "set it, and forget it" system!
This allows you to focus on answering calls and talking to sellers.
With that said, you can certainly manage your mail "in-house" meaning, you can send it yourself.
If you are going to do this, you need to develop a system to ensure your mail will be sent every single month, for at least 3 - 5 months.
Remember, if you don't plan to mail at least 3 - 5 times to the same list, then you probably should reconsider using direct mail as your marketing play.
There is a reason why direct mail is still the #1 lead source for most investors across the country. It flat out works.
But you have to know what you're getting yourself into before taking the plunge into direct mail.