This post is the first in a three part series on how to prepare, handle and execute a direct mail campaign for real estate investors. Part one is preparing yourself BEFORE the first call comes in.  

 

Direct mail marketing seems pretty self explanatory. Direct – The shortest route to someone/something. Mail – how they are getting that something. Marketing – why you are reaching out to them. Simply enough, direct mail is sending a letter, postcard or some sort of marketing piece to a person through the United States Post Office, in hopes they will pick up the phone to call you, go to your website to enter information and spend money with you. Or in the case for real estate investors, the person will sell you their property.

Before that first phone call comes in from your first direct mail campaign, there are several steps one should take to ensure each lead is carefully tracked, measured and put in a safe place so you can follow up at a later date.

 

The Mailing List

As a real estate investor, you must decide what type of leads you’ve like to go after. This is such a critical part of investing because this will create the language you craft when speaking to leads, the money you need to take down the property and the type of actual investing you will be doing. Here’s a short list of the types of leads you can buy:

Absentee Owners — Absentee owners own a property and do not live in the property, so they are absent from the home, hence the name, absentee.

Probates — If a person dies and their home isn’t properly designated to be inherited, etc., their home goes through the court system to get turned over to the heirs.

Tax Default — When you own a home, you must pay property taxes. If you don’t, the county will take your house.

Code Violations — Cities have certain criteria to keep the lawn cut and your home in good order. If you don’t, you can get fined by the city and this is considered a code violation.

Evictions — When someone rents a home from a landlord and doesn’t pay rent, a landlord has the right to eviction or kick the person out for non-payment and a myriad of other reasons.

Divorce — When a couple splits, often times, neither one wants to live in the home, so they will sell the asset.

Bankruptcy — If you have way more debt than assets, people will file bankruptcy and ask the court to wipe away their debt. A house is an asset and can be sold to help pay off these debts.

Foreclosure — When a mortgage is taken out on a home and you quit paying, the bank can file paperwork and ask the courts to remove you from the home. This is known as a foreclosure.

These lead sources are the most popular ways real estate investors use direct mail to ask homeowners to sell their property. Again, depending upon your investing strategy, any of these can be good ways to get your phone ringing.

Phone ringing? Yes, that’s the idea! Let’s move on now to the phone.

 

The Phone System

The most popular method on direct mail right now is to put a phone number and direct people to call you on said number. A lot of phone systems are clunky and hard to use, so I’ve narrowed them down to these few we’ve used and like.

Your Phone

The rectangular piece of technology sitting in your hands (presumably) right now. Does your phone accept calls and texts? Of course it does.

How simple is that?

Some will argue that you don’t people to have direct access to you and or privacy reasons, but in this day and age, people can do a three second Google search and find everything they need to know, including ways to get a hold of you. Using your personal line is simple and trackable.

Google Voice

This is my favorite and a quite popular way for investors to take calls without using their personal cell phone. Google offers, for FREE, a phone number and the platform to take calls.

The phone number is attached to your cell and when someone calls your Google voice number, it will forward to your phone and you can answer right from your phone. The caller will never know your phone number.

Awesome Features

  1. It’s free. Everyone will love that.
  2. You get a specific phone number dedicated to your business not your cell phone.
  3. You can text and get text voicemails.
  4. They updated their app (Jan. 2017) and it’s very user-friendly.
  5. You can text and call from your computer.
  6. Working out of state and want a local number? They offer this as well.
  7. On vacation? You can turn off the phone so it won’t dial.

Google Voice is a great tool and will definitely help keep you organized. Sign up for Google Voice here. 

Grasshopper

Grasshopper is a phone system which connects to your cell phone, similar to Google Voice, except they have some added features.

  1. Local or toll free numbers.
  2. Custom greeting when someone calls.
  3. Extensions to multiple phone lines/your employees

Grasshopper accepts text messages and faxes (yes, people still send those). Their lowest plan starts at $12 a month and $.06 a minute.

Honorable Mentions: OneBox & Ring Central

 

CRM

The above acronym stands for Customer Relationship Management and can be one of the most important tools in your arsenal. If you take a call, develop a great rapport with your lead, write down all your notes and then lose that notepad, you’re going to sound silly calling back that lead and asking the same questions again.

A CRM will keep everything you need to manage leads, notes and ideas all in one place. There are tons and tons of articles about which CRM is best, so I will give you what we use and some others to check out as well.

Podio

Podio is an “open box” CRM system with a tremendous amount of features all for the low low price of FREE. Yes, you read that right. It’s free. They have pre-built apps, open integrations, file sharing, task management and a mobile app that works pretty darn well.

We’ve been using Podio for more than three years, and in my experience, there’s only one reason people don’t use it and that’s because it’s an open box solution, you have to build said solution. This can become very time-consuming if you don’t know what you’re doing. However, Podio put together a great article about how to turn your Podio account into an REI juggernaut.

Honorable Mentions: REIPro & Zoho

 

SOP For Follow Up

According to Hubspot, 44% of salespeople give up after one follow up. ONE FOLLOW UP!

That means a lead calls you, you spend 10-15 minutes building rapport, get all their information, put it in your CRM AND spent the money to get them to call you and you only call them back one more time after that initial call. At that rate, why are you even in business?

Deals and made after five or more contacts, according to The Brevet Group. Depending upon where you read, that number can go as high as 8-12 times.

Ponder this for a moment.

You are the motivated seller in Houston. You’ve got a property and it’s just a pain in the butt. Tenants are constantly nagging. Late phone calls, slow payers, etc. You’re ready to sell this home and you’ve got a stack of postcards sitting on the living room table. You start picking up the phone and calling these people. Each one is giving you the same elevator speech.

We can close, take care of your headache, no more problems, cash in hand. Everyone is saying the same thing.

But if 44% of those people aren’t following up, your competition is falling to the wayside. This is your opportunity to outshine the competition, follow through on your word and close the deal. Because you call back, stay persistent and on the top of their mind, you could get that deal over the next guy or gal.

 

“Consistency is the true foundation of trust. Either keep your promises or do not make them.”

Roy T. Bennett

 

 

Cutting Your Teeth

I will never forget the first time our phone rang from a direct mail campaign. We were sending to postcards to absentee owners in Fort Worth, Texas. My wife and I both looked at each other thinking, “You’re going to answer that, right?” Well we let it go to voicemail.

Then I had to work up the courage to call them back and go through the steps I was taught. Turns out, we didn’t close that lead, but learned a lot of valuable lessons.

But wouldn’t you rather learn some valuable lessons without having to pay for those leads? I would! This is where I would implement Craigslist into my preparations. Work your way into the real estate<for sale by owner section of Craigslist and start calling all the ads that are homeowners.

Yes, you can stumble upon a deal or two in here, but for the most part, these homeowners are tough. They have had Realtors calling them, Realtors assistants, investors and everyone in between asking them to list or buy their house for pennies on the dollar.


You’re probably thinking, “why in the world would I want to call these angry people?” And that’s exactly the point. In this business, you’re going to get called names, hung up on and sworn at more times than you can count. You might as well get used to it and start growing that thick skin. So when the real leads start calling, you’ll be battle-tested and proven to be ready when the live ammunition starts.

 

This concludes part one of our three part series on how to prepare, handle and execute a direct mail campaign for real estate investors. In part two of our series, we will cover how to handle live phone calls, the questions you need to ask and how to handle difficult customers.