Although direct mail is one of the most costly forms of advertising, it is also one of the most productive. Email is the cheapest, but also the easiest to ignore. Plus you never really know if they received your message, it could have easily been caught by a SPAM filter or never even made it to their in-box. Over the years, I've found that it's best not to rely solely on one marketing medium, but rather scramble it up and utilize several different sources to effectively reach your target market.
Some people are email people, some people are direct mail people,others would rather talk on the phone or meet face to face, because everyone’s different and you don’t know who prefers which type of communication over another or who is more likely to tune out or ignore one particular type of communication is precisely the reason I recommend using all of them to target your audience.
However, today I'm going to focus on postcards. Postcards are one of my favorite forms of marketing.
o They are the least expensive form of direct mail.
o The recipient sees your marketing message since there is no envelope, you don’t have to worry about whether or not they open it up as the case with a typical letter
o They are inexpensive to produce. You can print them yourself and print up to four cards off one sheet of card stock
o You can track your results
However, it is crucial to your success that all your postcards contain a unique marketing message - something that sets you apart from your competition. The other important point I will make is that you need to mail them out on a consistent basis to your target market.
Forget about the recipes for your homemade sweet potato pie, home maintenance tip of the month, turn your clock back or forward postcards, or any of the other types of postcards that most agents send out. Don't waste your money on image advertising when image ads don't work in real estate. I know this because I used to use them with no success. You have got give people a compelling reason to desire to use your services and postcards are one of the most effective methods for getting your message out.
The postcards that have been most successful in my personal business have all have very strong marketing messages backed with strong guarantees and special programs. We designed different USP's (unique selling proposition) with different marketing messages for different target markets, for instance our "Sell it Yourself, While it's Listed and Pay No Commission Program" might be very intriguing to a FSBO, but our "Sold in 39 Days Guaranteed" might be just the thing an expired owner may be looking for after having their home on the market with another agent for the last 6 months.
One of the things I like best about postcards is that you can easily print them yourself. We’ve designed them in microsoft word and publisher. You can probably design them with software you already own. And I will tell you, some of the best postcards that I ever mailed out and gave me the best return on investment were black ink on bright yellow cardstock. Don’t try to compete with the expensive luxury designer style oversize postcards with beautiful photos and fonts. It’s your message that will get you the listing, not the pictures.
It shouldn't cost you more than a few cents by printing four on one piece of card stock and postcard postage currently less than $.30. You should be able to contact 3 different people for around a $1. I've found that ones I've designed and printed myself actually outperformed ones I purchased from a company that were slicker and more professional looking. The problem with purchasing the fancy designer looking postcards is that they blend in with what every other agent is sending out and you don't stand apart from the competition.
A few years ago I wasn’t getting the results that I wanted when I sent out postcards to a farm area. I was sending out lots of just listed and just sold postcards, and although I was generating a little business I knew the results should have been better. I had my marketing message on the postcard, but it was small and on the back - the same side where you put the address. On the front was a nice beautiful photo of the property I just sold or had just listed. It didn’t stand out from my competition.
Because the focus of a just listed or just sold postcard is to obtain more listings - not to try and sell that home, I had it backwards. Sure it would be nice to sell a home off of a postcard, but in 13 years it never happened for me, but I did get lots of listings especially once I made my marketing message the focus of the postcard. I simply flip-flopped the postcard. On the front, in huge letters I put the words “Your Home Sold in 39 Days or I’ll Sell it for Free” and on the back (next to the address block) I put a small photo of the new listing and a little information about the home. Remember your goal when sending out postcards to your sphere or your farm area. ensure that they get the message you are trying to deliver don’t do like I did and bury it on the back. Your marketing message is like a newspaper headline - it should make the reader want to learn more.
Postcards are an easy way to target absentee owners. My very first full calendar year in the business I sold 62 homes and by far the majority of my clients were absentee owners. I simply got a list from our county appraisal district office and started mailing out postcards like crazy. There wasn’t a lot of competition targeting absentee owners at the time. There was no rhyme or rhythm for what I was doing, I didn’t have a system or even a marketing message at the time, I was just catching people at the right time. And it worked out great because people that were responding to my postcards were much less likely to interview other agents and because I was new that was a good thing for me.
Another great feature about postcards is that you can save both time and money by choosing to print the addresses directly onto the postcards (using mail merge) or you can use labels if you prefer. Since a postcard arrives “opened” It's not like it's an envelope that you're trying to disguise to ensure it gets opened and not sorted over the garbage can.
Your return on investment with postcards is better than just about anything else I ever used. But you’ve got to have the right mindset going into this and realize that you may have to send out 1000 postcards just to get one response. But think about this - if you mailed out 1000 postcards and you printed them yourself it would cost you probably in the neighborhood of $350. If you got just one average $175,000 listing that sold you could pay for months of postcard marketing.
Results are influenced by so many different factors. Your marketing message, the layout of your postcard, the time of the year you send them, the turnover rate in a particular area, the frequency of your mailings and repetition can completely influence the results you will have.