Real Estate Prospecting Can’t Be a One-time Shot

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Choose your target, then market consistently.Choose your target and write to one person


Over the years I’ve met agents who mistakenly felt that direct mail for real estate prospecting was the same as direct response marketing. They thought they “should” get results from just one mailing.

Unfortunately, marketing studies show that if they have the right list they might get a 1% response.

Real estate prospecting is not at all the same as direct response marketing.

Direct response marketing fits into the “instant gratification” category. You’re selling a show up in mailboxes consistentlyproduct and people either want it or don’t want it. They order today or possibly tomorrow, and that’s that. Quite often, the purchase is made on impulse.

I do know someone who purchased a house on impulse - but it wasn't from a marketing piece. He viewed it with friends who were looking for a home. They didn't want it, but he did. He's my favorite neighbor, so I'm glad he was impulsive.

Marketing your services as a real estate professional via direct mail prospecting calls for “Drip Marketing” through multiple mailings.

When you’re offering your services as a real estate professional, only a small percentage of the people will want or need what you offer today. Another percentage may be thinking about it, and a greater percentage isn’t going to need you for quite some time.

In any case, none of them are going to see your mailing and think “Oh, that’s just what I need. I think I’ll order one.” Hiring a real estate agent is rarely, if ever, an impulsive action. After all, deciding to enter into one of the largest transactions in a lifetime is quite different from spending $39.95 on a Widget.

The purpose of your real estate prospecting letters is twofold.

First, you want to come to the attention of those people who need you today.

Thus you need to say something that distinguishes you from the crowd. You can do that by offering information rather than an ad for your services. And of course, different prospects need different information.

What you’ll say to someone who needs to short sell is different from what you’ll say to a FSBO or the owner of a vacation home. That’s why my collection of real estate prospecting letters consists of more than 40 different sets of letters.

Next, you want to establish yourself as a trusted resource in the minds of those individuals who are just beginning to think of selling or who won’t be ready for quite some time.

You want your name and your face to become familiar to them, and you want them to begin thinking of you as someone they can trust.

One letter simply can’t do that job. In fact, while different studies agree on the optimum number of “touches,” none recommends fewer than 5. Many studies say you need a dozen for maximum impact. And of course, once a prospect has indicated an interest in your service, it’s a smart idea to keep on sending them something until they either take action or tell you to stop.

Again, your letters need to be tailored to the audience. Agents who send the “One size fits all” letters saying “I’m wonderful, hire me” are destined for failure.

What about your niche?

If you haven’t gotten a response by the time you’ve mailed your series of prospecting letters, simply stay in touch. Send them periodic market reports, news about the neighborhood, or tidbits about real estate.

If a bit of light-heartedness fits your personality, use my 26-letter “Staying in touch” set. That set can keep you in front of those folks for two full years.

Keep building your business by never letting your prospective clients forget about you – and by continuing to send letters that will inform or amuse. When you can be counted on for something worth reading, they’ll eagerly open your mail.

One more thing…

What is a “touch?” It’s a message – sent either by postal mail or email. It’s also a phone call or a personal visit.

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at
Mailbox Image courtesy of Felixco, Inc. at

Comments (15)

Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Marte- what they always tell us is we need to be consistent in our marketing!!!  

Jul 11, 2020 06:59 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Kathy Streib We do. Mailing once - or even once in a while - is pretty much a waste of time, energy, and money.

Jul 11, 2020 09:18 PM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Marte Cliff -  I think you nailed it.  The drip marketing to the right target is effective.

Jul 12, 2020 06:39 AM
Marte Cliff

Thank you Grant Schneider - If you forget your prospects, they'll forget you. Quickly!

Jul 12, 2020 01:19 PM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Love it! Yes I agree with this post. Agents ask me should I farm? I ask them, do you have a budget to send 1-2 mailed pieces per month, every month for at least 2 years without expectation of immediate results?

I send a variety of niche piece, brand piece and market piece mail and at  least 2 pieces per month to the same database and then add up to 3 pieces per month more (when I'm really cranking) Coming Soon, Just Listed or Sold! postcards to that database and my listing farm per month. Consistency builds trust.

Jul 12, 2020 07:13 AM
Marte Cliff

Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor e-Pro, CRS, RCS-D, Vets In today's climate, I don't see how agents can afford NOT to do it.

In addition to those mailed pieces, emailing regularly to Internet contacts is also (I think) a must.

Jul 12, 2020 01:21 PM
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Exactly, Marte Cliff - you've got to commit. I appreciate the additional first hand experience from Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor e-Pro, CRS, RCS-D, Vets - that's the level of commitment required. 

Jul 12, 2020 07:23 AM
Marte Cliff

Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD Yes, and if the budget is strained, it's better to commit to staying in touch with a small list than to mail just once to a large one.

Jul 12, 2020 01:22 PM
Chris Ivy
Ivy Vine Investments - Memphis, TN
Sell Your House Fast For Cash In Memphis Tennessee

This was a great read and I'll be taking some tips from this and incorporate into our marketing scheme.

Jul 12, 2020 08:03 AM
Marte Cliff

Good for you, @Chris Ivy

Jul 12, 2020 01:22 PM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

Persistence pays. It is time consuming and costly. But you only have a few seconds to catch your prospect.

Sam Shueh

Jul 12, 2020 08:11 AM
Marte Cliff

Sam Shueh Persistence is the name of the game.

Jul 12, 2020 01:24 PM
Graziella Bruner
NCS Premier Real Estate - Detroit, MI
Associate Broker - Serving Wayne & Oakland County

The key is commitment!  Get a plan and stick to the plan, because a working plan is just that.  You have to commitment to plan the work and work the plan. Find your niche and do it! 

Jul 12, 2020 10:35 AM
Marte Cliff

Graziella Bruner Yes. Butterflies are beautiful as they flit from here to there, but we must not follow them when it comes to marketing. We have to focus.

Jul 12, 2020 01:26 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Marte Cliff ,

Once you find that niche you have to be committed to reaching out and touching them..consistently! You are right mixing up your touches with email, mail, a call or a visit in person can make all the difference.

Jul 12, 2020 10:41 AM
Marte Cliff

Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR I think a mix is good because different people read/respond to different approaches. Marketing requires commitment - it's not something to try once and forget.

Jul 12, 2020 01:27 PM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

Am getting ready to send out a quarterly mailing Marte. They garner business and past and present clients enjoy getting them. Consistency is key in business, fantastic post!

Jul 12, 2020 06:53 PM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

We all know agents, Marte Cliff, who chase after every shiny marketing idea and object, spending time and money only to abandon it and move to the next idea when they do not experience instant success.

Consistency is the answer. If you believe your marketing is going to be effective, it only will if you are consistent with it.

Otherwise, you only will be consistent in your disappointment.

Jul 13, 2020 05:47 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Hi Marte... as with so many things we do in our profession, it's all about long-term consistency.

Jul 14, 2020 05:25 AM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Thank you for your gift of a reminder of what we should be doing!  It's time for consistence like no other!

Jul 14, 2020 08:17 AM
M.C. Dwyer
Melody Russell Team at eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Felton, CA
MC Dwyer-Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

Great analogy of sending direct mail as frequently as if it were a drip campaign.    Wash, rinse, repeat, with a mixture of beneficial information.

Jul 15, 2020 09:07 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Marte, when I first THOUGHT I was going to be a farmer, I sent 2-3 newsletters out, and never got a call.  Then heard years later, they need at least 10 touches before they will call.   OOPS! 

Jul 21, 2020 01:33 PM