Direct Mail

Direct Mail is probably the most effective form of advertising in your local market.  With well-designed direct mail pieces and a highly-targeted list, you can generate good leads from motivated sellers.  We Buy Houses® provides postcard designs that effectively communicate & generate calls.

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The ANY HOUSE Postcard Series: 

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This is our “Q&A” postcard – it was actually designed for Senior Citizens with large easy to read type, emphasis on professionalism & trust, and copy on the back that reads more like a letter.

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Attention Grabber – Using a simple design and brighter colors can be a good way to make your mailer piece stand out to homeowners.

This post card features our trademarked phrase, “The Easy Way To Sell Today!”

This postcard is bright, and stands out from other mail the homeowner is receiving.

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Modern – Emphasizing to prospective customers that your business is connected and modern is very important. This postcard emphasizes how WeBuyHouses.com® is the “Easy Way” to sell your home, and it can be accomplished through modern means, such as through the internet.

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There are some “secrets” about direct mail that we’d like to share with you:

CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY – Too often we hear from an investor that has done a single mailing and they’re disappointed with the results (maybe just a call or two).  They find it hard to spend the money on the second mailing when the first failed to produce a lot of calls.  But successful marketers know that direct mail works via repetition – driving awareness (and action) from the target group via repeated contacts.  Consider this recent quote from an investor on the Bigger Pockets site:

“Instead of sending one letter to a mailing list (in this case expired’s) I created a series of 6 letters to go out every 2.5 – 3 weeks. Interestingly, I just sent out the third letters to the first group and the third letters have netted more call backs and appointments than the first two combined.” ~ Marty M.

So, here’s the big “secret” of direct mail ~ it takes 3 to 5 mailings to your target group before you’ll see the results of your campaign.  If you do one or two mailings and then bail out, you’re probably wasting your money.  If you don’t have the cash to do 5 or 6 mailings to your target audience, you may want to consider a different marketing strategy. But, if you have the willpower and the resources to do the 5 to 7 recommended mailings, you’ll join the few that are mastering this method and getting an excellent return on their marketing investment.

RECOMMENDED ARTICLE: How to Successfully Use Direct Mail In Your Real Estate Business (by Sharon Vornholt @ Bigger Pockets)
VIDEO: Marketing & The Rule of 7 – Consistency is the Key to Success in Direct Mail

MASTERING THE VENDORS – Direct mail can get a little complicated.  It can involve multiple vendors, buying and downloading mailing lists, uploading postcards designs, and monitoring the printing and mailing processes.  We help you to cut through all that noise and complexity by recommending the best vendors for each phase of the work, as well as those “turnkey” providers that can “do it all”.  So, let’s break direct mail down into its component parts and identify the players…

The LIST

A huge part of the direct mail process is identifying and acquiring your LIST.  Obviously, we want a list with a few key characteristics such as:

  • Homeowners only – no apartments or renters
  • Special categories of owners such as “absentee owners”
  • Home values that are in your target range – e.g., only houses valued at $200,000 or less; no recipients in high-end neighborhoods
  • Length of residence – many think it’s best to eliminate those that have only lived in their homes for a few years
  • Equity – some lists claim to have criteria on the equity that homeowners may have in their home.  This is great data if you can get it, but it may not be 100% accurate.

Mailing List Providers:

  • Listsource.com – this is the OFFICIAL DATA PROVIDER to WeBuyHouses.com licensees.  Their data that comes from CoreLogic, and it is the best data you’ll find about homeowners.  CoreLogic actually collects data from local courthouses all over the country, and as a result, they have some criteria that others do not have (such as equity %, mortgage origination date, loan-to-value ratios, foreclosure info, etc.).  Listsource.com was actually the most expensive of the list providers we researched, at around 14-18 cents per record for our sample set of 2,500 records.  However, we offer our licensees a special (unpublished) deal on Listsource mailing lists.  Their data quality is excellent, so if you can get it at a comparable price (as we can), Listsource.com is an excellent data source and perhaps even an advantage for you (vs. using data from other vendors).
  • InfoUSA – these guys have been collecting business and consumer information for more than 20 years and they have one of the best processes for keeping the data as accurate as possible.  They provide a good list, but they don’t offer as much real estate specific criteria as some of the other sources have, and they are expensive compared to some of the other sources (coming in at 13 cents per record for our sample set of 2,500 records).  However, we also have an Account Exec for InfoUSA and its possible to negotiate a better deal.
  • What about more highly targeted lists?  Here are plenty of ideas from Bigger Pockets…

The PRINTING, PROCESSING, and MAILING

We Buy Houses® recommends postcards (like the ones above) for direct mail for a couple of reasons – they can have a quick memorable impact even when people choose to ignore or toss them, and they are cheaper to produce and mail than other types of direct mail.  For example, with our direct mail vendor strategy, you can send full-color postcards for about 50-60 cents each (all costs considered) versus about $1 each for the “yellow letters” that are popular with many investors.  So, not only are yellow letters around 30-50% more expensive to mail, we also believe they are more easily tossed without being read or understood.  That said, we have recommended vendors that can create any kind of mailer you want.  For now though, we’ll focus on the production and mailing of postcards.

These days, most direct mail companies do printing “on demand” rather than printing large quantities of postcards in advance.  The cost of on-demand printing is bit more than when you print a large quantity in advance.  But the “old school” printers that print the postcards in advance have to rerun the pre-printed cards again in order to imprint the mailing address.  For the “new school” (on-demand) printers, the printing of the card and imprinting of the address are now all done in a single process.

There are basically two directions to go with direct mail production services – there is the COMPLETE TURNKEY service that includes the mailing list, and then there is just the PRODUCTION  AND MAILING service that is performed if you already have your mailing list from another source.  Let’s consider vendors that can provide the complete turnkey service.

NEW! VIDEO: Creating Direct Mail Campaigns That Fit Your Budget

TURNKEY PROVIDERS

We Buy Houses® Online Fulfillment Center – we offer a complete turnkey direct mail service through our relationship with GoBig Printing.  There are some BIG advantages to using this system over the other vendors mentioned here:

  • The graphic assets for the We Buy Houses postcards & letters are ALREADY UPLOADED into their system…
  • They offer VARIABLE PRINTING, so you only print the number of postcards or letter required for your mailing list AND they can create cool custom letters such as the new We Buy Houses® probate letter…
  • In addition to working perfectly with our mailing lists from Listsource.com, they can also provide you with a FREE MAILING LIST if all you need is factors such as “single family homes” in “zip code xxxxx” with a “market value between $x and $y”.
  • They are FAST – usually printing your order the next day…
  • They are COMPETITIVE – we have worked with them to offer you all these benefits at a price that others cannot match for this level of service and finally,…
  • They are HELPFUL – if you are overwhelmed by their online process, you can literally email them your mailing list and one of their customer service reps will set up your campaign for you!

For most of the campaigns that we execute for licensees, we are using data from Listsource.com and the services of our Fulfillment Center at GoBig Printing.  When you combine those vendors with our expertise in direct mail for real estate investors, it’s a perfect “turnkey” operation for licensees of the We Buy Houses brand/system.

imageMEDIA is one of the best turnkey providers because their website is very well designed to support the entire process, with real-time list generation, easy uploading of your direct mail pieces, and a streamlined ordering process.  They are, however, one of the “old school” printers that has not been able to offer variable print services that meet our requirements.  We think their mailing list offering is too expensive (and has limited criteria), but their (non-variable) printing and mailing services are competitively priced.

Click2Mail is another full-service turnkey provider that has an integrated process via their website.  We thought their process was not as refined as imageMEDIA’s.  The price for their list is very competitive, but their printing and mailing services are overpriced (the opposite of imageMEDIA).

Any of these vendors can provide a complete turnkey service for direct mail that should meet your needs.  And all these vendors will accept a 3rd-party list, so they can all be used just for the printing and mailing process if you already have a good source for your mailing list.

TRACKING YOUR MAILINGS

Another advantage of taking control of your mailing list is that you can open the file and add a record to have one postcard mailed to yourself.  The “turnkey” providers will also add your address to the mailing – just ask them (GoBig does this automatically).  We use the name area of the record to indicate which mailing it is so, when we receive a postcard, we know exactly which mail drop it came from.  For example, in the name field for our tracking record, we’ll use the name “Tracker Drop001” and our office address.  In the next mailing to the same list, we just change the name to “Tracker Drop002”.  We then track when we receive the mail pieces compared to when we ordered the campaign from the vendor.  These tracking pieces give you visibility into how your vendors are performing.

DID YOU KNOW?  Standard Mail for postcards is only 28 cents, compared to 38 cents for First Class (these #s might be a bit out of date but you it’s still ~10 cents difference).  Yes, you save 10 cents with Standard, but be aware that direct mail sent via the lower Standard method can take several weeks to be delivered by the post office.  First Class pieces are delivered in about a week.  Nonetheless, we prefer to use Standard to save the $$.

RESPONSE RATE – WHAT TO EXPECT

So, what should you expect as far as response rate?   Between 1 to 2% response rate is typical, 3% is good, and 4 to 5% or higher is doing very well.  But that’s response rate vs. getting deals.  if you are mailing 2,500 pieces per month, one percent response rate would be 25 calls a month.  You may estimate that 10 percent of the calls turn into deals – so you might expect a mailing of 2,500 pieces to yield 2 purchases a month.  That said, you need to keep in mind that response rate increases with additional mailings to the same group, and your first mailing or two may not yield many calls.  Some say that 80% of your contacts will come from your THIRD mailing (to the same target list), but 80% of novice investors bail out after one or two mailings.

DO IT YOURSELF

Another option is to have your printing and mailing services done by a local vendor.  In the past, we found that most local vendors could not compete with the larger Web-based vendors we’ve mentioned above on the basis of price.  But a local vendor can give you more of a hands-on approach, which you may prefer.  Copies of our direct mail pieces are available for those who need to download the designs to send to a vendor.

Contact dev[at]webuyhouses.com to request the SOURCE FILES (.pdf, .eps) for any of the postcards you see at the top of the page.

 

More on Direct Mail in this article:  The FUNNEL: How Deals Happen

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