In a world of social media and digital marketing, some people claim the use of real estate postcards is dead.
As Mark Twain is reported to have said, “The rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
Direct mail, done correctly, is a proven strategy for dominating a niche market.
In this in-depth article, I will teach you how to dominate a niche market using real estate postcards. A consistent direct mail campaign enables you to;
- Build top-of-mind awareness
- Establish your brand
- Generate well-qualified leads
Ready to get started? Let’s jump in. . .
Get clear on your target audience
The first step in any successful marketing campaign is to identify your target audience.
Who do you wish to reach? Where do they live? What problems do they have and how can your services be the solution they are looking for?
If you haven’t identified a niche market, I would encourage you to do so.
Having a niche market focus does not mean you cannot take listings, or work with buyers, outside of your niche. It simply provides an area with the proven long-term potential to support your business and production goals.
Like all of us, you have limited resources. Having a niche market focus enables you to allocate your limited funds to an area where you can build awareness, and see results, faster than if you attempt to serve numerous neighborhoods or communities.
The key to a successful direct mail campaign is consistency and repetition.
It’s better to target a smaller area where you can afford to mail regularly than to target a larger area where your budget doesn’t support the level of consistency direct mail requires to be successful.
Build your list
Once you have identified the niche market, or farm area, that you would like to target with your postcard campaign, you will need a mailing list.
There are two methods for build a mailing list, tax records and Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) from the Post Office.
To build a mailing list using the tax records, start by making a list of all of the streets within your niche market or farm area. As you search each street name in the property tax records, you’ll want to cross each name off the list so that you do not miss any addresses.
When downloading the records for each street, you do not need all of the data in the tax records. Select the following fields;
Homeowner name, Street number, Street directional prefix – such as East, West, Street name, Street directional suffix – such as NW, NE, ZIP code and State.
You may also want to include the assessed value of the home and when the homeowner bought the house. This enables you to target owners of the more expensive homes, maximizing your income potential, or to target homeowners who have lived in the neighborhood longer than the average, indicating they may be more likely to move.
Ask your postcard printing and mailing provider what file format they accept for mailing lists and save your list according to their suggestions.
The benefit of building your mailing list from tax records is that you can sort and target your mailings based on criteria such as home value and length of ownership.
The downside of creating your mailing list from tax records is that you may pay a slightly higher rate for each mailing than with the Every Door Direct Mail option.
Every Door Direct Mail
Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is a service from the Post Office that enables you to reach every residential address within your niche market at a lower overall cost.
It is based on the individual carrier routes, or streets, that mail carriers drive to deliver the mail.
As such, the carrier routes may not match up exactly with the boundaries of your chosen niche or farm area.
To get started, go to the Every Door Direct Mail website.
The first screen you will see shows a map of the United States. Enter the ZIP code where your niche market is located as shown below.
The map will display the ZIP code.
Be sure to select the option for “Residential Only” to eliminate sending your postcards to business addresses.
Each of the gray lines on the map represent a carrier route.
As you hover your mouse over those lines they will turn purple, as shown below, and you can see exactly what streets are included and how many residential addresses are included.
By clicking the individual carrier routes, you can select an area that reflects your niche market or farm area.
A summary of the total number of residential addresses is displayed on the right-hand side of the screen as well as the approximate mailing cost for each mailing to the addresses.
Keep in mind that the carrier routes may not follow your niche market boundaries as closely as you would like. This is the trade-off for paying a lower monthly cost.
As you select the routes they will turn blue, as shown below. You can deselect the route by clicking on it again.
While the EDDM website is a great planning tool, when it comes time to order your postcards, I recommend going to a full-service EDDM fulfillment printer, such as Primoprint.com or PrintingforLess.com, who I used for many years for my own postcard campaigns.
These companies also have route selection tools on their websites and they will take care of everything so you can focus on your business.
Clarify your goals
If you want to serve, and ultimately dominate, a niche market, there are a few goals you should consider;
Building and maintaining top-of-mind awareness
To build your business, you must be memorable.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 70% of homeowners interview only one agent before listing their home and 87% interview two agents before selecting someone to work with.
Your goal is to become a household name in a niche market so that when homeowners are ready to sell, they call you.
This is best accomplished through consistent mailings of postcards that are designed to keep your name in front of homeowners.
These postcards do not have to be “salesy”. A monthly calendar of local events, the local high school or college football schedules or household tips can be an excellent way to keep your name in front of homeowners.
I was never a big believer in this sort of marketing, but I have to admit, the two most influential women in my life, my wife and my mother, changed my thinking on this.
They both get monthly postcards from agents. They both stated that they would consider calling those agents if they were thinking of selling.
I asked if they knew anything about the agent such as their track record of results.
They did not.
They were willing to consider the agent simply because they could recall the agent’s name from having received the monthly postcards.
That’s proof positive that top-of-mind awareness is critical to your long-term success.
Your brand is who you are, how you can help homeowners and your track record of results.
It’s your reputation.
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person.”Jeff Bezos - Founder, Amazon.com
Your brand, or reputation, comes from two sources;
- Your value proposition or your brand promise. This is your promise of future benefits to the client. It essentially lets the homeowner know what benefits they will receive, in the future, by hiring you today.
- Your earned reputation, achieved through the consistent delivery of your brand promise and reinforced through your track record of results and client testimonials.
Once you have top-of-mind awareness, it is important to communicate your value proposition, or brand promise. Otherwise homeowners who receive your postcard may remember you, but they won’t know why they should call you over another agent.
People buy, or hire, for two reasons;
- To achieve a result they want and don’t yet have.
- To eliminate a problem they have and don’t want.
The best way to generate leads is to let homeowners know that you understand their goals and aspirations, as well as their pain points, and that you have the solutions that will enable them to achieve their goals successfully.
By offering useful information that enables homeowners to see how you are able to help them achieve their goals, you establish your credibility and expertise, making it easier for the homeowner to want to work with you.
Design your campaign
You know that you want to build and maintain awareness, communicate and substantiate your brand promise and generate leads.
Let’s take a look at how you can create a postcard campaign that uses three different designs to achieve your goals.
Postcard #1: Build and maintain awareness
The first design you will need is a postcard that can be sent monthly.
It is also important that it include your value proposition so that homeowners understand why they should call you.
You have two options;
You can design a full 12-month postcard campaign offering a monthly calendar, schedules, tips, etc.
You can use one of the existing real estate postcard campaigns available from a variety of providers.
The benefit of the first option is that you have total control over the design. The drawback is the time commitment in designing the postcards. If you aren’t a designer, you’re better off paying one or selecting the second option. Only you can make a decision for what is the right approach for your business.
Whichever route you decide to go, design a full 12-month campaign so that you don’t lose momentum by stopping your campaign to design the next postcard.
The postcard shown below is the actual postcard we receive each month.
Sent by veteran Atlanta real estate agent, David Hutchins, he states that his consistent postcard campaign accounts for an average of six additional sales every year.
On the back of the postcard, include your value proposition along with your personal contact information.
If your value proposition, or brand promise, is that you will help homeowners achieve market-beating results when selling their home, state it clearly so that homeowners begin to associate what unique value you offer with your name.
Postcard #2 – Substantiate your brand promise
While your first postcard is designed to help homeowners remember your name and value proposition, it does not provide the proof necessary to help homeowners believe your claims or promises.
Your second postcard is to announce your “Just Sold” listings. These are sent whenever you sell a home in the niche market and are different from “Just Listed” in that they demonstrate results. They fact is, most any agent can get a listing. Selling that listing faster, or for a higher overall price, than the market averages is noteworthy.
Promoting your sold listings also builds your reputation and, in this case, reinforces the brand promise of helping homeowners achieve market-beating results.
Below is an example of another postcard I received. I have blurred the agent’s information for their privacy, but this represents much of what I see from agents who claim direct mail doesn’t work.
Let’s examine why this “Just Sold” postcard would not convert well.
Next, the sub-head doesn’t reinforce the headline. Instead, it urges the reader to ask about a move-up program.
To get your postcard read, your headline should grab the reader’s attention. Your sub-head should expand on the headline by providing more information, pulling the reader through the copy of your postcard.
Here’s the back of the postcard. . .
The back of the postcard includes other conflicting call-to-actions and information.
There is a call-to-action urging the reader to call for a free market analysis and is followed by a bulleted list of services, that while they might be useful, don’t relate to a market analysis.
Another call-to-action promotes calling to receive a custom marketing plan.
Are you confused yet?
To achieve the best conversion rates from your postcard campaigns, your must decide what one, single action you want the reader to take and then provide plenty of proof of the benefits of taking the desired action.
Let’s look at how we could design a “Just Sold” postcard to be more effective.
First, we changed the graphics to be much more inviting. People like looking at photos of people. If you can get a photo of your client to use on your postcard, do so.
Next, we changed the headline. Running this headline through the headline analyzer produced much better results.
When writing headlines, and copy, for your real estate postcards, remember that people buy based on emotion first and then seek facts and figures to justify their decision. So use graphics and copy that provide an emotional connection.
Then use your track record, testimonials and guarantees to appeal to their logical side.
Let’s look at the back of the postcard for more inspiration.
The copy on the back of the postcard uses a proven copywriting technique called the Star-Story-Solution approach.
The “star” of our story isn’t us, the real estate agent. It’s the client.
In this case it states a common cause of stress for homeowners – not knowing what to do to get their home ready to sell.
The “story” is that she hasn’t sold a home in over 20 years and was feeling anxious about where to begin. Then the story takes a turn when a neighbor gives our “star” a copy of your free guide, Preparing for a Successful Sale.
This is where the “solution” portion of the copy is presented. The client not only learned how potential buyers would evaluate her home, but where she should focus her time and energy to get her home ready to sell.
Next we use a copywriting technique called a “Johnson Box” to highlight the testimonial from the client. It is used to draw the readers eyes to the testimonial so they can see what the client has to say – reinforcing your brand promise through social proof.
The next item is a clearly stated call-to-action asking the reader to visit a web site, or landing page, to get their own copy.
Everything about this postcard is designed to present a single thought that is aligned with your brand promise – knowing what steps to take to achieve market-beating results.
Postcard #3 – Lead Generation
The last postcard you will include in your campaign is designed to generate leads.
Now you may be thinking the other designs were also for lead generation, especially the “Just Sold” postcard, and you’d be right. Every mailing you spend money on should ultimately generate leads for your business. Some will do so subtly, while others will be more direct.
If you are just beginning to focus your efforts on a niche market where you don’t have any active listings or recent sales, you can’t wait to use the “Just Sold” postcards to start generating leads.
You need leads now.
To use this last postcard design, you need to have first identified what homeowners in your chosen niche want from an agent.
Whether it’s service, results or both, your lead generation postcard is designed to provide a solution to a common problem the homeowner is likely facing. Remember, people buy to either get results they want and don’t have or to eliminate a problem they have and don’t want.
Your job is to identify what they want and provide it.
When people buy, the first thing they do after they become aware of a need it to start gathering information that can help them consider their options. They consider their options and based on the information they have, will make a decision.
Let’s look at how you would incorporate that desire for information into a postcard.
The headline of this postcard is written to appeal to only those homeowners who are thinking of selling their home.
The graphic features a woman who is looking towards the text – a proven design element that gets the reader to focus their attention on what the woman is looking towards.
The copywriting technique used in this postcard is the Before-After-Bridge approach.
The “before” represents where the homeowner is now; thinking about selling their home and perhaps being overwhelmed at all there is to do to get the home ready.
The sub-head hints at the “after”, offering a glimpse at how much better her situation would be if she knew exactly what to focus on.
The headline analyzer scores this sub-head very well. It ranks high on the “spiritual” component, touching people at a strong emotional level.
Remember, people buy, or hire, based on emotions.
Through your use of testimonials, or when you direct the reader to a landing page where they can take advantage of your offer, you can provide the facts and figures they need to justify their decision.
On the back of the postcard, we reaffirm the feelings the homeowner may be having – that getting their home ready to sell can be an overwhelming experience.
We immediately transition into the “after”, letting the reader know that it doesn’t have to be that way.
We reinforce the “after” by asking the reader to imagine knowing how buyers would evaluate their home, so that the homeowner can focus their time, and money, on the items that will ensure a quick sale – and a higher price.
Last, explain how to “cross the bridge”, to get from where they are to where they’d like to be, by solving their problem.
The “bridge” is the free guide you are offering that educates them and solves their problem.
We use social proof to reinforce that the guide has been used by dozens of area residents to achieve market-beating results.
We provide a clear call-to-action and then end with more social proof in the way of a testimonial stating how the guide helped one homeowner in particular.
I would recommend sending a lead generation postcard of this type to your niche market, or farm area, every two months.
The most effective way to ensure consistency is to have your printing and mailing company prepare and mail the postcards and simply charge your credit card for each mailing, eliminating the need for you to do this work yourself.
Final thoughts. . .
Don’t assume that sending out a few postcards is going to automatically generate listings.
You Must Be Patient.
Direct mail rarely produces immediate results. Agents who send a single postcard, or two, cannot reasonably expect to get business from such a limited effort. If you do, consider yourself fortunate.
Even a successful postcard campaign can take 6 to 18 months to provide consistent leads. Direct mail is about building awareness and your brand, and providing information that solves homeowner’s problems.
And that takes time.
But a well-designed postcard campaign can provide substantial benefits over time. I used postcards extensively in my career and can attest to their ability to generate leads.
Once you get your real estate postcard campaign launched, you can look for ways to integrate it into your social media, email marketing and prospecting efforts for even greater results.