Direct Mail Fail – How to waste your money and everybody’s time October 10, 2014

This is the story of how a piece of direct mail landed on my doorstep and how the investor who sent it got it totally wrong.

 

Did you know that nearly 20% of American’s don’t have internet access at home? No? Nor did I until a few weeks back. It’s this kind of statistic (provided by the Pew Internet & American life Project Survey) that surely gets investors thinking about jumping back into direct mail.

Today, direct mail enables investors to connect with potential sellers in a way that email often struggles to. Sending a letter or postcard avoids so many deliverability issues and lets you to put your message physically into someone’s hands.

 

BACKGROUND

I have two houses. There’s the house that I currently live in and then there’s the other house that I used to live in. I won’t bore you with the details of how I came to own two houses, but I can tall you that it wasn’t by design. Right now I’m in the process of deciding whether to keep the second property or sell it and be done with it. I suppose it was inevitable that I would attract the interest of an investor at some point.

 

THE LETTER

The letter arrived last week. It came in a plain white envelope with a real stamp. My address was printed on the front with a handwritten-style font. The sender had decided to forgo the yellow letter approach and instead opted for generic lightweight white copy paper.

direct-mail-letter

The logo in the top left is so small and the image is so degraded that I have no idea as to the name of the company. These might be just details but they do make a difference. My main focus however is now on the “signature” at the bottom of the letter. The signature is obviously an image that has been uploaded or pasted onto the document and stands out like a sore thumb. The name itself is only barely legible and there is no printed version of the name underneath.  I think it’s a lady who wrote to me.

The letter goes on to tell me that they are a local investor (although there is nothing on this letter to indicate where the investor is actually located). The letter gets straight to the point, telling me they would like to make an unconditional offer on my property. Now they’ve got my attention. I am also told that my house will be purchased as-is, wherever it is, and that everything can happen without any stress.

I am invited to call a 1-800 number today in order to get a guaranteed offer in 48 hours. The way the letter is worded, it sounds like it could be worth my while to call these guys up. At the very least, I might get some information that could help me make a decision on what I should do with the property.

 

THE CALL 

The letter arrived in the morning, I called the same evening. Not surprisingly, I am greeted with an automated voicemail system asking me to navigate through a number of phone tree menus. I never get to speak to a human; instead I am asked to leave my full name, phone number, address of the property and how much I would like to sell my property for. I give up all the information being asked for except the amount I want for my property; my investor is going to have to work just a little harder for that information. I hang up the phone and wait for their call back.

It’s been just over a week and I am still waiting for my “guaranteed offer in 48 hours or less.”

 

CONCLUSION

The investor’s letter wasn’t a work of art. It did a poor job of convincing me that I was of genuine interest to this investor, but I picked up the phone all the same. I called because regardless of the quality of their marketing, I had a house that I was willing to part with.


So how did this piece of direct mail fail?


It failed because the investor NEVER CALLED ME BACK.

This investor spent money to send out direct mail to an area they are apparently looking to target, only to throw the lead away. The reality is, even if they call me right now and offer me exactly what I want for my property, I won’t be doing business with them. Not only that, but should anyone I know get the same letter, I will likely share my poor experience with them.

Had I received a call within a reasonable amount of time this have would be a different type of post.


THE LESSON

No matter which methods you are using to generate leads, when you get a live one – do something with it!

  • Call leads back as soon as you can. The more rapidly you respond, the higher the chance of making a deal.
  • Have a live person answer the phone. Every time. If you don’t have someone who can answer the phone, use an answering service like PatLive that caters to small businesses. You’re making it far too easy for leads to hang up and move onto the next investor when you force them through an automated phone tree.
  • DO what you say you’re going to do. If you say you’re going to make an offer within 48 hours, you better be ready to make that offer when a call comes in. If you say you’re going to discuss options or educate the homeowner, then make sure you do it. Doing what you say you’re going to do goes a long way in creating trust and turning leads into deals. Not following up with a lead who has actually taken the time to call your office is leaving money on the table.

Here are some additional tips on maximizing your direct mail campaigns:

  • If you are personalizing with a hand-written looking signature, customize with a font rather than pasting in an image or using a stamp
  • If the signature is hard to read, type the name below the signature so the person calling in knows with 100% certainty who they should be speaking with
  • Use a local phone number when mailing to local leads
  • Customize the letter with your company name, website, and other contact information such as email address, business address, and phone number

Direct mail can be a very profitable form of marketing if you do it the right way and handle the leads that come in as a result accordingly. Just do what you say you’re going to do and you’ll quickly become the local investor that everyone comes to when they’re having real estate related problems.

Share some of your tried and true direct mail tactics by leaving a comment below.

Greg Clement, CEO

5 thoughts on “Direct Mail Fail – How to waste your money and everybody’s time”

  1. i would like more information about Patlive answering service – do they answer 24/7?
    how do we make sure they represent US and OUR business goals?

  2. Brian,
    I’m commenting because I’m actually re-writing our direct mail letter right now, and I stumbled on this post without looking. Greg posted something unrelated on FB and now I’m on your blog. No coincidence :).
    Do you think direct mail is the best method of “target marketing” for leads?
    We are targeting a specific area of the city, and don’t want leads from outside this area. So, direct mail seems to be the best method for this challenge. Do you have knowledge or experiences you can share to support this? Thank you.

    1. Hi Mark, I apologize for the delay! Direct mail marketing is certainly a great way to target your marketing to only the areas that you’re interested in investing in. You can cherry pick the leads who get your marketing rather than sending marketing pieces to properties that you know you’re not interested in investing in because of the area. I hope this helps!

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