23 Lessons I Learned From Spending $82,477.25 On Direct Mail Marketing For Motivated Sellers
Written by Blair Halver
When I started my real estate investing career back in 2008, it took me until 2009 to realize that the part that I really enjoyed, the part that I was really good at, was generating the initial seller leads.

If we all focus solely on what we're best at, and use those skills to serve others, won't that make everyone more successful?

That's the thought I had when that realization came to me. So I decided to make lead generation my focus, and work with other investors solely in that role. I stick to what I'm best at, and they stick to what they're best at, and all of a sudden we have synergy, right?

So that's what I did. I created a company and partnered with other investors to provide seller leads to them.

Now here we are 7 years later, and I wanted to share with you some lessons learned through my experience in lead generation, primarily focused on direct mail.

Here we go...

1. Direct mail is the "secret weapon" that the big dogs use to dominate their market. If you're already out there doing a few deals a month, direct mail is likely going to be your best bet for expanding rapidly.

2. Your success in direct mail is directly correlated to how well you can monetize a lead. You need to look at every lead that comes in as solid gold. Treat it with care and respect. This is the lifeblood of your business. If it doesn't turn into a deal right away, don't throw it away, put it in your follow up system.

3. The more ways you can monetize a lead the better. If you're a wholesaler, and you get a pretty-house deal that works better as a lease-option, then you better be prepared to do a lease-option. Agent-Investors have another way to monetize because if they get a lead that isn't 100% hot and motivated to sell at a discount, they can turn it into a listing.

4. A proper direct mail campaign should produce a response on the very first mailing. While I'll let people say "the fortune is in the follow up", I know that if a mailing doesn't produce a response on the first hit, it's not going to produce a response of any significance on the 7th hit.

5. Assuming you have good copy on your mailer, the largest determinant of a high response rate is the zip codes you're targeting. Higher end zip codes will not perform as well as lower end zips. I like to stay near the middle, though, within 20% +/- of the median home price for the overall area.

6. Postcards work the best. Just do postcards. They give you the most bang for your buck. There are many reasons for this, but just trust me here.

7. The uglier the postcard, the better. Don't try to look too "slick."

8. Don't put your company name on the postcard. Just put your personal name on there. If you don't want your personal name on a bunch of postcards floating around out there, use a pen name, or the name of someone else on your team... maybe someone on your acquisitions team??

9. Don't put a website address on the postcard. Again, too slick, and you only want to provide ONE response method...

10. The best response method is a phone call.

11. Do not use a toll-free number. Use a number with an area code local to the recipient of your mailer.

12. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT take these calls directly. Always route them to a pre-recorded message that tells them more about your company and your offer to buy their house. This does two things:

13. Telling the person they're calling into a pre-recorded message will boost your response rate because the person knows they're not gonna have to talk to anybody!

14. The pre-recorded message is going to weed out the tire-kickers and time-wasters before you even get on the phone with them.

15. You want your mailer to look like it's coming from one person, written from an individual, just a regular person in the community, written to another regular person in the community. No slick sales messages. Just be as personal and conversational as possible.

16. Absentee-owner lists will almost always give you the most bang for your buck. I believe this is because it covers many life situations that you'll be able to help with - vacant house, tired landlord, doesn't want to do repairs, probate, inherited properties, etc etc.

17. Response rates will vary from one market to the next, and from one week to the next. I've seen the same mailer pull a 13% response in one market, and a 0.5% response in the next.

18. A good starting amount of mailing you want to do is at least 1,000 mailers per week. Anything less than that, and you're getting into the realm of not being statistically significant, and so you wouldn't be able to judge the response rate from a smaller amount. Of course, if you want total market domination, you need to be mailing much more than 1k/week.

19. Don't trust a list provider's equity measurements. These are based on property valuations made by a computer (never the best option), and they are really just guesses to how much equity the person has. That said, you CAN rely on a list provider's measurement when you select 100% equity, because then they're just looking at property records and the existence of liens. No lien = 100% equity.

20. Some markets track number of beds/baths and some don't. So if you're pulling a list from your provider and you want to target 3/2's or bigger, but nothing's coming back in the list results, it's likely because that county doesn't track beds/baths. You'll have to just broaden your targeting to allow for any number of beds/baths. That said, you can likely still target by square footage.

21. Direct mail leads are some of the best leads you will get. This is because you are normally the only buyer in sight. Contrast that with online leads which are usually sold/sent to multiple investors, or are listed on a public site. The more people that know about the deal, the higher the price the property will end up going for.

22. It's most definitely possible to get a 1,000% ROI on direct mail. Spend $1, get $10 back. Especially in this business as real estate investors, a 10:1 ROI is average. But heck, I'd even take 2:1! I mean, if you put $1 into a machine and you get $2 back out, how many dollars would you put into the machine??

23. Direct mail may not be the best route for beginners. Like I mentioned before, you gotta be able to monetize nearly EVERY lead that comes in. The pros will know this already. So if you're just starting out, and you've got a limited marketing budget, I wouldn't start with mail. But if you're already doing a handful of deals a month, and you're ready to take it to the next level, direct mail is likely your best option.

24. (BONUS LESSON!! :-)) Consistency is key with direct mail. And the best way to stay consistent is by automating your process. You can outsource it to a Virtual Assistant, you can hire a company to do it for you, or you can do it yourself. The problem with doing it yourself is that it takes you away from what's most important in your business - doing DEALS. So whatever you decide, just make sure it gets done!

Alright guys, I hope this has helped. I've run campaigns all over the lower 48 and Hawaii, so if you have any questions, hit me up in the comments below and I'd be happy to help you out, point you in the right direction.

Blair Halver

Blair is a real estate investor and avid marketer, coming up under the greats: Dan Kennedy, Ron LeGrand, Russell Brunson, and more. He has personally managed a spend of over one million dollars and generated more than 85,000 motivated seller leads for him and his clients. 

Blair is a husband, father of two, and a follower of The Way.

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