I’m Robert Nickell and I’m the co-founder of Rocket Station.
Our focus is simple: help real estate investors make the most of their businesses with simple solutions and services that they can tap into right now.
We will delve right into the tips, tricks, and must-tries. I’ve perfected over my career that, leveraged in their entirety, will ensure you’re taking a smart, strategic approach to every lead that crosses your desk.
Do that, and you’ll maximize your time and your talent—the two most valuable weapons in your real estate investing arsenal.
Download and print this How To Maximize Your VA Execution Plan as your guide for the duration of the course.
Get Front-and-Center with Your Target Leads Through Consistent, Compelling Direct Mail
Direct mail is one of the best ways to build your real estate investing business. Done right, direct mail can drive motivated sellers and qualified cash buyers directly to your doorstep in a fraction of the time. But, still, many investors don’t spend time navigating this powerhouse marketing platform. Why? Because direct mail, often, comes with some seriously negative connotations. “Junk mail,” anyone?
I bring that up only so we can get it out of the way before digging into this Execution Plan. This is not “junk mail” nor is it the endless mailbox stuffers from years ago. Smart, strategic direct mail is the ultimate connector, with unbelievable targeting capabilities. By reaching the right buyers and sellers with the right message at the right time, you’ll be able to easily engage and activate these critical contacts.
Besides that, direct mail works. It always has, but now, it’s more powerful than ever. As more businesses tap email to reach their target market, the amount of business mail circulating has taken a serious nosedive. The end result? If you leverage direct mail to get your message out into the world, you’ve got a better of being noticed—and your call-to-action being acted on—than ever before.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? It’s all possible with direct mail. The key, though, is to be consistent, be smart about your targeting and your message and, above all, track your results and learn from your wins and missteps. Do that and you’ll be able to harness the power of direct mail in a big way, and drive massive results for you and your real estate investing business.
Ready? Let’s go.
This Execution Plan (EP) will walk you through every step of the direct mail process, from honing your message to building your lists to sending the right content at the right time. There’s a real art and science to direct mail—strike the balance and you’ll be well-positioned for success.
Step one? Working through this EP. Before we dig in, I’ve got a few parameters that, believe me, will make this experience better, more productive and more profitable.
There’s a lot of content in this EP, and while it’s tempting to execute the steps as you go, DON’T. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but trust me, it’s rock-solid advice.
If you execute as you go, chances are you won’t understand the bigger picture we’re working towards. Direct mail is a holistic experience, designed to be consistent and cohesive across your campaigns and across your other marketing and lead gen efforts. By not reading the entire EP first, you won’t have that 30,000-foot vantage point—and that can be problematic. While you’ll likely have a few quick wins, you probably won’t have the concrete understanding of how one step leads to the next. And without that, you’re going to leave leads, deals and money on the table. Trust me, you don’t want that.
Once you finish reading through this guide, start back at the beginning and follow every single step as it’s laid out in order.
Just like it’s important to have a holistic understanding of the direct mail process, it’s equally important to tackle all of the steps in their entirety. Skip around or only work through the pieces you’re most comfortable with and you won’t get the most out of this guide—and, again, will be leaving some serious cash on the table. So read this EP, start from step one and go. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a powerful lead funnel at your disposal.
As you’re working through this Execution Plan, you’ll see a number of links to downloadable resources, handouts and other bonus content. Don’t worry about downloading these now—chances are, they won’t make much sense until you get to these points in the guide. But once you’re done reading through, be sure to download everything so you have it at your fingertips. You’re going to refer back to these resources all the time, especially as you’re building out your initial direct mail campaigns.
The Seller Lead Management Blueprint is a proven system that helps real estate investors engage and nurture leads and increase lead conversion.
What kind of VA expertise do you need? Download this Essential VA Task list to help you create your perfect VA requirements.
Direct mail can work well when done right. Avoid these mistakes and a direct mail campaign could be a successful part of your marketing plan.
Here are some guidelines that could help you launch a perfect direct mail campaign.
Direct mail marketing is the making and sending of advertising materials such as brochures, catalogs, postcards, newsletters and sales letters through the mail. It includes audience research, list building, and more.
It is a powerful lead gen go-to for one simple reason: it works. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Direct mail is also affordable and easy to implement in your business, even if you have limited marketing experience.
In this business, relationships are front-and-center—the more you build strong relationships with buyers, sellers, lenders, contractors, agents and other key players, the more successful you’ll be. Those relationships, more often than not, start with targeted one-to-one marketing.
Enter direct mail.
Direct mail is a great way to target the right buyers and sellers for your real estate investing business. You’ll invest what you want to invest and will be able to track ROI from day one.
Some other benefits include:
People are increasingly wary of unknown phone numbers—and those buyers and sellers will be impossible to reach via phone.
Direct mail can be outsourced entirely or partially—many marketing campaigns require your attention and are tough if not impossible to outsource
If one-on-one outreach and communication aren’t your strong suit, direct mail lets you take a more passive approach that’s still incredibly effective and results-driven.
Leads you get from your direct mail efforts will, in most cases, be the most motivated—they took a step to get in touch and respond to your outreach, after all.
Unlike traditional advertising, these benefits make it easy to build direct mail into your marketing plan and your overarching funnel—you’ll be able to use your initial campaigns to determine lead gen results based on investment. Once you can do that, you’ll be able to fire up your lead machine and continuously, consistently drive the right buyers and sellers to your business.
The key to success is consistency mainly because you won’t be able to maximize your lead gen efforts if you simply drop a direct mail campaign and move on. Instead, it’s essential to take an iterative approach—to take what you’re learning from your direct mail campaigns and use it to power future outreach. By rolling out each campaign at least three or four times minimally, you’ll be able to decide what’s working, what’s not and what needs to happen to maximize your lead gen success.
From a purely ROI perspective, being consistent will help you make the most of your list building efforts. You invested time, talent and resources in building or sourcing these targeted lists. Sending to a list once and calling it a day isn’t the smartest use of your investment. But continuing to reach out will keep you and your message front-and-center which will, no doubt, ratchet up engagement and actions taken. So be consistent—and be consistently consistent. Do that and you’ll be well-positioned for lead gen success.
The first step: making sure your lead management and follow up systems are rock solid. You’re going to be sending direct mail fast and furious. If you don’t have the systems in place to handle the influx of leads, then you aren’t going to be able to make the most out of these ongoing opportunities.
The key here is ensuring you’re able to manage leads coming in effectively and efficiently. You’ll need to be able to respond to these leads, vet leads to find the most motivated sellers and, ultimately, move forward with the deals that make sense. It sounds simple, but too often, real estate investors don’t have these workflows in place when they start implementing direct mail and other lead gen tactics.
The end result? Leads come in and aren’t properly managed, keeping investors from sussing out the best possible deals for their business. This industry moves fast. If you can’t unpack the leads coming in and decide how, where and when to act, you’re going to have a hard time creating a consistent cash flow.
For many investors, implementing a solid seller lead management and follow up system involves tapping a pro—specifically, a Rocket Station VA. Real estate-trained VAs can handle virtually every follow up task that crosses your desk, from returning seller lead calls to sending emails to incoming leads to pulling comps and doing the initial analysis on prospective deals. This will free you up for hours each day so you can focus on revenue-generating tasks. More importantly, though, integrating a qualified VA will ensure you have a strong, streamlined lead management and follow up system in place before your first direct mail campaign drops. And that ensures you’ll get the most out of every single campaign every single time.
With your lead management and follow up system in place, the next step is to set the wheels in motion on your direct mail marketing plan. To ensure you get up and running ASAP, I’ve broken the process down into three simple steps:
1. Set parameters
2. Identify your target
3. Determine systems and messaging
With each campaign, you’ll repeat these steps, tapping into intel and insights from your prior direct mail outreach to ensure this one is bigger, better and more successful. Again, it’s all about CONSISTENCY. By being consistent, you’ll get the most out of every list and every subsequent campaign—and that’s always a win.
Before launching into any direct mail campaign, it’s important to set parameters—namely, your budget and your general exit strategy. This will inform next steps as well as campaign messaging. Some things to think about as you’re working through these initial pieces:
You don’t have to make a massive investment to see results from direct mail—so don’t let anyone tell you your budget isn’t big enough to see results. That’s just not the case.
When it comes to building your list and deploying your campaign, quantity IS important—but quality is the most important. Focus on building or securing targeted lists of relevant leads. You’ll generate more motivated sellers the more you drill down on the right kinds of prospective audiences than you will blast thousands of random people.
It’s important to determine your exit strategy before diving into your direct mail campaigns.
That final step—determining your exit strategy—is the first step in hammering out your direct mail budget. Ask yourself, what is my ultimate goal with these leads? Do you want to:
BUY & HOLD?
The answer to this question will determine the type of lists you go after. Again, we want quality over quantity. Think about it—speaking to retail buyers probably doesn’t make much sense if you’re a wholesaler.
Once you’ve determined your strategy, you’ll want to focus in on your messaging. Even the perfect buyer won’t take that next step if the message doesn’t resonate. We’ll focus more on messaging in step three. For now, keep that in the back of your mind.
Finally, you’re going to have to think about how often to deploy your direct mail campaigns. By striking a balance between the number of pieces—i.e. how big your list is—with how frequently you deploy campaigns, you’ll be able to align with your budget.
As you’re determining the frequency… Remember the importance of consistency in direct mail marketing. It’s better to send a direct mail piece to 5,000 people three or four times than to mail to 15,000-20,000 people once.
My recommendation? In the beginning, aim for 250 direct mail pieces going out per week—just 1,000 pieces per month. You’ll want to hit every single person on your list at least six or seven times. If, after a month, your budget allows for more, great. If not, keep working through your 1,000 pieces per month, learning and evolving your campaigns based on the previous response. With an initial campaign like this, you can expect a 0.5%-1.5% response—so about five to 15 motivated sellers per month.
If you have your follow up and seller lead management system in place—including your real estate-trained Rocket Station VAs—these leads can feed right into your funnel without any heavy lifting on your end.
Now that you have a sense of your budget and know your exit strategy, you can focus on building out your direct mail lists—in other words, you can start building and sourcing lists that sync with your core prospects.
If you already have a list of prospective leads from your website or other marketing outreach, start there. Often these warm and even cold leads can produce good outcomes.
If you don’t have a solid list, there are plenty of resources to turn to. If your exit strategy is rehabbing or wholesaling, for example, you’ll want to focus on potentially motivated sellers. Lists could include:
Bankruptcy — homeowners who have recently filed for bankruptcy; often these owners are highly motivated to sell their homes.
Where to find a list: Alesco Data: Alescodata.com / [email protected]
Delinquent Tax/Lien List — this list includes homeowners who are delinquent on their property taxes. Often, people who are delinquent with these taxes are delinquent with other financial obligations, and selling their home or other property could make a lot of sense. If that’s the case, these owners could be extremely motivated and ready to cut a deal with a high-momentum investor.
Divorce — many homeowners are required to sell their homes as a condition of divorce proceedings. Even those who aren’t required often choose to downsize or move out of the family home for emotional reasons.
Where to find a list: compass-direct.com/newdivorce.html
Probate — these are often inherited properties; in this case, you’d be dealing with the heir to the property who, frequently, doesn’t have the time, resources or interest is properly marketing their newly-inherited property. Because they want the property off of their hands, many are willing to cut a deal, especially for a cash buyer.
Where to find a list: USProbateleads.com or USLeadList.com
Code Violations — these properties have significant damage resulting in code violations. Because these properties require extensive rehab and renovation work—or may need to be torn down—the owners are often very motivated to sell.
Where to find a list: local building department or fire department.
Absentee Owners — these are some of the most popular and high-potential lists; landlords tend to turn properties over every few years, so there are always absentee owners looking to sell. And because these landlords usually have little emotional attachment to the property, it’s easier to get them out ASAP—and they’re usually more willing to cut a deal.
FSBO — for sale by owner; these listings are being marketed and sold exclusively by the homeowner with no real estate agent or broker assistance.
Where to find a list: search Craigslist
Pre-foreclosures — also called “pre-notice of default” or “pre-NOD,” these properties are close to being foreclosed on. Paperwork has already been filed by the bank or lender, and the owner has a very limited time to get things back on track. Usually, these lists are broken into 30, 60 and 90 day lists which indicate how far behind the homeowner is on their mortgage.
Where to find a list: Brad Dawson / [email protected]. For foreclosures, visit Foreclosureradar.com, your local town hall or county court house, or yellowletterscomplete.com/leads/pre-nod-leads
Expired Listings — typically, real estate agents and homeowners have set terms to their agreement—for example, they may agree to work together to sell the home in six months, at which point the agreement can be renewed or not. When listings are expired, it indicates the property didn’t sell—and, in most cases, there’s a reason.
Where to find a list: Ask your real estate agent or broker to pull from MLS; they can send a list of expired listings from the database
As a real estate investor, expired listings can represent good opportunities because the seller is likely anxious about finding the right buyer and wants to sell. By swooping in with a competitive cash offer, you could be well on your way to a great deal.
Cash buyers — for wholesalers, reaching cash buyers is critical. These lists include rehabbers and other real estate investors who buy properties for cash.
Keep in mind, specialty lists are a bit more niche and harder to get your hands on. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to wind up with expired leads or bad info. These lists often aren’t updated as frequently because there aren’t as many contacts that match the specifications. Besides all that, niche lists are usually more expensive than more common lists.
And if you do get your hands on a niche list? Be sure you’re familiar with targeted messaging for these contacts. Again, the right message to the wrong list is the WRONG message—and that’s an easy mistake to make when you’re dealing with these lists.
A good approach? Focusing on high-equity, absentee owner properties. Especially early in your real estate investing career, these lists tend to drive the best results in the least amount of time. The majority of absentee owners are landlords—and the majority of landlords only hold onto properties for a few years. Again, because these properties aren’t usually “home,” their emotional attachment is minimal, which makes them more likely to negotiate based on market values and conditions.
Better still, most landlords own their properties free and clear. That’s a huge benefit to you, as an investor. Not only will that speed up the closing process, but you won’t have to worry about any not-so-great surprises down the road.
Some other good lists to start with? Probate or inherited properties and attorney lists. Like absentee owners, people who inherited properties tend not to have as much emotional commitment. Beyond that, these heirs are often in a different town or state and don’t have the contacts or the capacity to get the property sold quickly—and without serious headaches and hassles.
Attorneys can also be incredible resources to help build your list. Not only will they have professional contacts who may be looking to sell, but they’ll be able to pull lists for everything from bankruptcies to probate and inheritances to divorces. Leveraging your relationship and their access can lead to a very strong, very active direct mail list.
[City – State – Zip]
Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. [Last Name],
We are contacting you because we understand that arrangements regarding the home at [Decedent’s Address] will eventually need to be made. As such, and when you are ready, it would be our pleasure to assist you with making these arrangements should the need arise.
[Company Name] is a small group of local property developers with a great deal of hometown pride. We have recently purchased a few homes in the [Decedent’s Neighborhood] neighborhood for cash. Unlike listing a property with a realtor which regularly takes months to sell, requires stacks of tedious paperwork, and accumulates realtor commission fees, we can make a fair “as-is” cash offer and frequently settle in as little as one week.
If you are interested in a hassle free offer, please give me a call at [phone] or email me at [email]. Additionally, if you do decide to market this home with a realtor we can offer you a list of whom we consider the most professional realtors in the area. Should you have any questions or be in need of any other assistance regarding this property we will do our utmost to help or refer you to a reputable member of our strong local network.
Thank you in advance for your time.
City, State, Zip
Being an out-of-town property owner is no picnic! I would like to talk to you about your property located at (Property Address)
When your property is sitting empty, you worry about everything from whether the lawn is being mowed to whether the local kids are using it as a hang out while you’re dealing with expenses like taxes, insurance, repairs and monthly payments. When you have tenants, you have to deal with long-distance management, maintenance, and rent collection.
Either way, an out-of-town property is a headache. I can help!
I Buy Houses in Most Any Area, Any Condition, and In Any Situation!
Most folks I talk to don’t become out-of-town owners on purpose. Instead, something happened that forced them into the situation. Maybe one of these sounds like you:
You had tenants in the property and thought you’d hold onto it for income, but it turned out to be more trouble than you thought.
Or, who knows? Maybe your story is completely unique. In any case, if your out-of-town property is causing you grief, pick up the phone and give me a call. Tell me a little about the property, and I’ll tell you right away what solution I can offer. And the beautiful thing is, when I buy your home:
It’s simple. Pick up the phone and call now and you could be rid of your out-of-town headache by this time next month. Call today at XXX-XXX-XXXX or email me at: [email protected]. You can also leave your information on our website at: www.company.com
With all of the pieces in place, the final step is to lock down your delivery system—the format of your direct mail pieces—and the messaging you’ll use in your outreach. Your goal? Be consistent and refine your messaging to align with your lists’ wants and needs. If you do that, they’ll take action—or, at the very least, you’ll be front-and-center when they do decide to sell.
There’s really no limit to the types of direct mail pieces you can send. However, most real estate investors stick with a few common types. They’re more recognizable to recipients and won’t feel as much like a promotional mailing. Those types?
Postcards — postcards are simple, affordable ways to get your message out. Because there’s limited space on a postcard, you’ll have to deliver your message in a concise, compelling way, letting the (prospective) seller know that you buy properties for cash and that you can help them sell fast.
Yellow Letters — these are handwritten notes on yellow legal or notebook paper. Because they’re so personal and direct, they have an amazing response rate. The drawback? Handwriting thousands of letters probably isn’t realistic. Focus on yellow letters for smaller campaigns.
Fold-over letter — these are essentially expanded postcards which give you more space to share your message. Fold over letters fold down the middle and look like a horizontal greeting card. This gives you space on the “cover” as well as the interior and back of the card to share your message.
My advice? Anytime you can, handwrite your direct mail letters. You’ll get a better response, hands down.
But now the reality. We’re busy real estate investors and we don’t always (or EVER…) have the time to handwrite hundreds or even thousands of direct mail pieces. The alternative?
Invest in software that recreates YOUR handwriting—seriously. There are lots of options to choose from, including one of my favorites, YourFonts.com. For just $10, use your own handwriting to create a custom font and build out a template. It looks just like a handwritten letter and you can easily print out hundreds or even thousands in a fraction of the time.
Before we dig into the content, it’s important to keep a few important logistical details in mind. If you’re new to direct mail it may not seem like these small details matter but, believe me, they do.
A4—an “invitation” envelope size—is perfect for direct mail. Very simply, recipients will open thinking it’s an invitation, increasing engagement right off the bat.
This is something you’ll need to test list to list. For me, navy blue on the outside is a great way to go—I’ve had great results.
Don’t buy 10lb paper—it jams printers. Instead, go on Amazon and buy yellow paper in bulk. It’s cheaper than buying from an office supply store and won’t jam your home or office printer. Aim for 20lb yellow or gold paper.
While your format, end goal and target list will play a role in your direct mail messaging, all outreach will have a few key elements:
This is the most important part of any direct mail outreach. Your headline is what recipients see as soon as they look at or open your mailer. If the headline doesn’t catch their attention, chances are they won’t read on.
The best headlines usually…
Often, the people receiving your direct mail outreach feel lost and completely alone. Maybe they’re going through a divorce, just lost a loved one or are being foreclosed on. Or maybe they simply need to sell and feel like they’re going nowhere fast with their current agent or marketing efforts. No matter what, though, the more you can make recipients feel comfortable and like you’re truly there to solve their problem, the more engaged—and more likely to take action—they’ll be.
Some examples of empathy statements:
People get lots of direct mail every single week—especially homeowners. And, if they’ve got a lot of debt or are facing foreclosure, they could be getting a lot of outreach from investors, debt consolidators and banks.
So how to cut through the clutter? By having a great headline, powerful empathy statement and rock-solid offer or benefit clearly spelled out. This benefit statement should be targeted to the recipient/audience—saying you “specialize in helping homeowners facing foreclosure” isn’t particularly compelling if the recipient is going through a divorce and not in pre-foreclosure, for example.
Some examples of offer and benefit statements:
Now that you’ve introduced your value proposition and pulled them in with your compelling headline and empathy statement, it’s time to close the deal—that is, to drive recipients to take action and get in touch.
That’s exactly what a call-to-action (CTA) does. Here, you want to position this as a time-sensitive opportunity. If they don’t act fast, you could be on to the next property and not have room in your portfolio for theirs.
Your CTA should also make clear exactly what you want the property owner to do next. After reading it, there should be no question about the step they should take if they’re interested in selling you their property. For example:
Don’t forget to include your contact information very clearly and succinctly on every direct mail piece. Also, be sure to include at least two ways to get in touch—phone and email, mailing address and fax, website and email, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure you have at least two ways to get in touch, and that they’re very clear on first glance. The last thing you want is a motivated seller not being able to contact you.
Guarantees make people feel comfortable—it shows you want to do a good job and, if you don’t, you’ll make it right. So don’t be afraid to offer a “GUARANTEED cash offer” or “competitive market prices GUARANTEED” in your direct mail outreach.
Here’s an example of compelling direct mail copy. This could be used on a postcard, yellow letter or virtually any other format.
We get it—you want to sell your house but don’t have the time (or the cash) to get it market-ready. Our advice? DON’T. Because at ABC Real Estate, we buy properties in and around Miami as-is—and we can close in just 15 days.
We’ve helped thousands of your friends and neighbors GET OUT of their homes and into the next chapter of their lives—with cash in their pockets.
Get in touch and get an offer. Hurry! We’re only accepting limited inventory, and we want to hear from YOU.
Director of Acquisitions
ABC Real Estate
123 Second Street
P.S. Call today for a GUARANTEED cash offer in just 24 hours or less.
While every direct mail campaign is different, ultimately, your goal is always the same: to get leads as a result of your outreach and to convert those leads into lucrative deals. To do this, your direct mail messaging MUST be clear and straightforward. Recipients should know exactly what you provide, how it benefits them, how to take action and WHY they need to take action ASAP. Consider these the goals of every direct mail campaign you drop, no matter your exit strategy, your list or your overarching message.
While this basic copy framework applies to virtually any direct mail campaign you produce, you may need to adopt a more aggressive—or less aggressive—tone depending on your target. Overall, postcard copy falls into three buckets tone-wise:
These postcards are ideal for neighborhoods with lower-end median home values. To determine if that applies to the area you’re considering, simply look at the median home value for the extended area—i.e. the town, county or metro market—and compare it to that neighborhood. If it’s significantly lower, it falls into this category. If there’s a mix of median values, focus on the properties that have lower median values.
If you spot a neighborhood or area that’s well below the average price point for the market, an aggressive postcard should do the trick. These neighborhoods are prime for rent-to-own opportunities and seller financing—just something to keep in the back of your mind.
My advice? Don’t use this approach in lower-end neighborhoods. A good place to test drive semi-aggressive copy? Absentee owner lists. Notice I said “test”—that’s key here. Lead to lead, you could get a very different response on this type of content—or maybe you’ll get great response from less-than-quality leads. So test out some semi-aggressive postcards to absentee lists and see what happens. Ultimately, you’ll have to be good at filtering through the noise and converting eh leads into opportunities.
This is a great approach for all neighborhoods and prospective lead lists provided they’re roughly average value-wise or lower than average. Got a super high-end neighborhood or list? This probably isn’t the postcard approach for you. But if it’s somewhere a wholesaler or rehabber would likely buy, go for it.
A quick online search for “fulfillment houses” will turn up countless businesses that will package and send your direct mail pieces. The alternative? If you don’t want to DIY, put an ad on Craigslist and hire someone to come to your office and fold/stamp direct mail pieces. Try offering 25¢ per piece—usually this is a good rough rate for this kind of work.
One of the best things about direct mail marketing is that it’s easy to track ROI and to gauge success—and from those analyses, to improve on future direct mail campaigns. Tracking every piece of mail you send will instantly give you a leg up on the competition, and you’ll be able to determine which targets, messages, and CTAs drive the best incoming leads.
Keep in mind, most recipients won’t respond after the first attempt. Again, it’s all about consistency with direct mail marketing. Usually, after three or even four attempts, motivated sellers, cash buyers, landlords or anyone else you’re targeting will start to emerge.
As I said earlier, before any campaigns can drop you need to make sure you have a solid seller lead management system in place. In other words, WHO is going to handle your responses and HOW will those responses be managed, vetted and integrated into your lead funnel?
What’s NOT an inbound system? Winging it or planning to handle everything solo. While you definitely can—and many new real estate investors do—you’re likely going to let more than a few leads fall through the cracks. And those missed opportunities could have been your next great deals.
So what does a good seller lead/inbound lead system entail? Depending on your exit strategy and the scope of your business, it could include:
A call center with phone reps fielding leads 24/7 and sending you lead sheets to review and respond to.
A dedicated voicemail for leads including a transcription service or automated system that emails/texts you messages from prospective buyers/sellers.
Custom landing pages that collect key info from leads—i.e. name, email address, phone number and a few details about their desired deals (for cash buyers) or property (for sellers).
Real estate-trained VAs taking calls and vetting/analyzing leads, then passing the next steps and overviews to you.
From my end, it’s a combination of these systems—specifically, integrating VAs to tackle the administrative and follow up heavy lifting, paired with custom landing pages and other intake systems that collect and organize leads. By integrating VAs and other turnkey touchpoints, you’ll be able to maximize every lead that crosses your desk, quickly finding the best, most relevant deals for your business. It’s simple, it’s effective and, done right, will help you make the most out of every direct mail campaign—and every marketing and lead gen initiative you put out into the world.
With your inbound system in place, it’s also important to build in an organic follow up system—again, this is something Rocket Station VAs can handle, freeing you up to deal with the revenue-generating side of things. You’ll want your VAs to follow up with leads every 30 days using the phone number and/or email you captured in the initial lead intake process. Until you move forward with a deal, keep calling every lead on your list.
The only exception? If someone specifically says, “take me off your list” or “put me on your DO NOT CALL list!” Should that happen, immediately stop calling and/or emailing. No one likes a spammer. Even though that’s not your intention, it can come across that way if you engage leads who aren’t interested. But, overall, follow up consistency is key to success with any direct mail campaign. Rocket Station VAs can handle this process and can deliver leads to you when they’re ready to make a deal—which, in some cases, could be after the initial call or, even, weeks, months or years down the road.
It’s important to think about tracking and ROI before you send your direct mail campaigns. Why? Because you’re going to be sending multiple campaigns, even in the first month. You need to be able to track not just response but WHAT they responded to—which attempt, which message and other campaign specifics. This will help you invest more time, talent and budget in the direct mail campaigns that are working, and less in the ones that aren’t.
Some simple tracking mechanisms?
Include a simple code in each direct mail piece and ask respondents to input the code online or share it when they call.
Provide a unique offer in each direct mail drop—for example, a guaranteed cash offer in 24 hours versus 48 hours.
Color-coded campaigns—it’s easy enough to ask if they received a blue or red mailer, for example.
Include a unique URL or phone number—this makes it easy to track responses.
Simply ask leads how did you hear about us? Even if you have a more concrete tracking mechanism in place, it’s always good to ask.
Expect about 0.5% – 1.5% response rates for strong campaigns. Postcards will, typically, have the lowest response rate, but because they’re cheaper to mail can be blasted out to larger audiences and/or more frequently.
Once your campaigns are up and running, expect every 30 leads or so to lead to approximately 10 appointments. These 10 appointments will, typically, lead to one or two deals. Again, I recommend starting with about 250 pieces per week and scaling up from there.
While this may not sound like a lot, it is—and keep in mind, these leads and deals are in addition to other outreach you’re likely doing or will be doing. Flipping even one or two deals in a single month can easily drive five figures for a wholesaler and even more for a rehabber. So don’t get caught up in thinking you need dozens of deals per month. That will come—but for now, start building your foundation and creating your lead funnel.
Even though my real estate investing business is thriving, I still focus on that—on quality over quantity. I’d rather have fewer responses but a higher concentration of quality leads from those who do respond. Whenever someone calls, the first thing my team does is confirm how they heard about us. After that? I always make sure they get a phone number or, better, two phone numbers. This ensures we can execute on our follow up in the coming hours, days and weeks.
With all of your direct mail marketing pieces in place, it’s time to hit SEND—figuratively speaking, of course. As you track ROI and overall response, you’ll start to hone in on a marketing schedule that makes sense. In the beginning, though, I’d recommend starting with a concrete schedule based on the presumed needs of your audience. For example:
While landlords are, often, eager to unload a property, if they don’t respond early on they may need a little more time. Spread mailings out a bit, but be consistent. You want to be the first name that comes to mind when they do decide to sell.
Mailer 1, then:
These sellers may be EAGER to sell. Their listing didn’t sell for one reason or another, and if they’re still in the market for a buyer, they’ll want to hear from you. Move quickly and be consistent over a much shorter period of time.
These sellers are, in most cases, at the end of their rope—they NEED TO SELL and they need to sell fast before they’re foreclosed on. Reach out to them frequently over a short period of time. Be empathetic and position yourself as THE solution to their problem.
Again, it’s all about being consistent whether that consistency is every few days or every few months. With each list and list type, you’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t, and THAT will help you maximize your direct mail marketing month after month.
Direct mail marketing is one of the most effective and most manageable platforms for engaging motivated sellers, cash buyers and other key contacts. Not only is it easy to build or source a list, but it’s equally simple to drill down on targeted contacts and qualified leads—and when those leads come in, it’s easy to assess ROI on every single campaign. If you’re consistent, if you focus on an iterative approach that builds on lessons from prior campaigns and you have a rock-solid inbound lead system in place, you’ll be in business. Remember the three steps to success with direct mail:
Determine your budget and plan your campaign — this includes determining your exit strategy, initial messaging and campaign frequency
Identify your target audiences and build or source your lists — getting your hands on targeted lists is easy and affordable if you don’t want to invest the manpower in building your own
Choose your delivery system and finalize messaging — will you use postcards? Yellow letters? Fold over mailers? Something else? Beyond that, what message will resonate with your core audience?
Start here, be consistent in your outreach and follow and have a lead follow up funnel in place before you drop your first direct mail campaign. And, ideally, get some help with the heavy lifting—the initial intake, vetting, analyses and ongoing follow up. Rocket Station real estate-trained VAs can help—get in touch to learn more.