There was an Inman article I recently read that had me saying “YES!”. As much as I love the Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller, it’s been a little while since I’ve read it and I had forgotten about this quote:
“Reinventing the wheel every time is just plain exhausting work. And it leads to breakdowns and burnouts. On the other hand, I think you’ll discover that modeling will be very empowering. In fact, it may make things appear so simple it feels like cheating. Powerful models usually feel that way.”
Is this you?
Is the model for obtaining listings by utilizing postcards / direct mail so simple that it feels like cheating? Is the simplicity holding you back?
Here’s what we know from dozens of years of real estate agents using direct mail marketing and what Gary Keller emphasizes in his book (makes sense since it is the proven method):
- You should select an area to launch or expand your real estate farm that has at least a 6% turnover rate
- You shouldn’t select an area that is already being heavily farmed by another agent
- You need to mail postcards to this area a minimum of once per month
- For the first 8 weeks it’s advised to mail more frequently, but not more than once per week
- Maintain consistency in what you mail: consistency in branding and messaging. If possible, keep the pieces almost identical
- Do not expect immediate returns; plan on mailing real estate postcards for 9 months before seeing the returns. If you have a lot of existing brand recognition, you may see much faster returns (it’s not uncommon for well-established agents to get a listing on their first mailing) but this should not be expected and isn’t the point of real estate marketing.
If you perform the above, you will have success. Just like anything though, you must perform it the way it is written. DO NOT DEVIATE.
No, you can’t change monthly to every other month. No, you shouldn’t change the list.
You need to pick one list to mail real estate postcards to and stick with it.
A great way to budget is to budget for the year. Understand what you’re going to need to spend and understand what your return is going to be. Let’s look at postcard Return on Investment (or ROI) a little bit deeper.
Understand Your Postcard Return on Investment Upfront
As discussed above, real estate postcard marketing isn’t about mailing as many postcards to as many homes as possible and hoping that on the first mailing you’re going to get a listing. Not that postcards can’t do that, especially if you already have brand recognition in your market, but that isn’t the intention.
The intention of real estate postcard farming is to build a sustainable long-term business where listings are coming to you due to your postcards and other direct mail pieces, not you chasing the listings.
So, what does this look like?
Let’s assume that you are going to mail an area of 500 homes and you’re going to mail that area 18 times (8 times in first 2 months and then once per month for the following 10).
That means that you have mailed a total of 9,000 postcards. At 70¢ each those real estate postcards cost you $6,300 over the course of the year.
Now let’s assume that the average selling price of a home in your farm is $350k and that you get a 3% commission (you shouldn’t need to discount your commission when getting listings off of postcards since you’ve well established yourself as the expert). That means that off of each listing you will receive a $10,500 commission.
If you get and sell just one listing from your postcard farming you’ve already gotten your money back plus profited over $4,000. If you sell 2 you’ve more than doubled your money!
So what’s stopping every real estate agent from mailing postcards?
Often times I think what Gary Keller said about”…In fact, it may make things appear so simple it feels like cheating” comes into play. A lot of real estate agents truly can’t handle the fact that there is a proven system and that if that system is followed you will be successful in obtaining listings using postcards.
I know, this sounds insane! We KNOW that real estate postcards work. Let me repeat that: WE KNOW THAT REAL ESTATE POSTCARDS WORK. We don’t think, WE KNOW IT.
Is there a top producer in your office that isn’t utilizing postcards? It’s very doubtful, other than maybe the guy that pounds the phone for 16 hours per day.
Why do all the top producing REALTORS farm with postcards? Because they at some point in time had a coach that told them to start and to stick with it for a year. Then they started farming and within a year started seeing a massive return and a huge lifestyle change.
Once you see that return it’s incredibly easy to stick with it because now you’re putting $1 into a box and getting $3 to $10 out. Of course you’re going to do that! But you have to lay the groundwork first.
That’s what top producing real estate agents do when they start mailing postcards to get listings, they know that it’s going to take some time but if they stick with it they will have a sustainable business and they will start making huge money.
What’s holding you back from farming for listings?
Can you not afford it?
Do you think you simply don’t have the discipline?
Do you have this false sense of not having the time?
Let me start by saying that the absolute minimum is 250 postcards per month for 12 months. That’s a $2,100 commitment. If that isn’t something your current finances can support investing into your business, it is indeed best that you wait until you can afford to make the commitment.
There’s no shame in that game. Not everyone is built to own a business and not everyone becomes a real estate agent to own a business. If you got into being a REALTOR so that you could have a job then stick with that, do your thing. Not every real estate agent should be farming with postcards (though I still think you should be mailing postcards to your sphere of influence).
If the problem is that you don’t have the discipline or that you don’t think you have the time (ridiculous IMHO), many direct mail companies can you help you with that, including Wise Pelican. We have a 12-month campaign which will handle for you (and you don’t pay until the week the mailing is going to go out) that you can sign up for here: https://wisepelican.com/110-2/12-month-postcard-marketing-campaign/
Here’s the thing: this isn’t a big time commitment. It’s spending a few minutes filling out a form and then plan on spending about an hour with us to finalize everything and get a content calendar together. From there your postcards will be automatically going out to your real estate farm.
None of this needs to be complicated or time consuming, Wise Pelican really handles pretty much everything for you and if you’re ever having issues, there’s a team of people waiting to answer your chats or phone calls.
I do want to be clear about one thing though: real estate farming is not for everyone. I’ll say that again; real estate farming is not for everyone.
If you got into real estate because you thought that it was a great opportunity to create sustainable income and you have a business mindset, then mailing postcards to get listings is a fantastic way to go and is an absolute must for your real estate agent marketing strategy.
If you got into real estate looking for a job and don’t see it as a business, then real estate farming probably isn’t for you, though you should still mail postcards to your sphere of influence so that you can stay in touch with them and continue to be seen as a real estate expert.
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Effective Real Estate Postcards
If you’re wanting to know what real estate farming postcards actually work it’s fairly simple and there’s a hierarchy of them. You don’t need to scour the internet to find real estate postcard ideas.
Wise Pelican has real estate postcard templates for all of the below; you can find them by logging into your account. If you ever have trouble finding any of these real estate postcard templates, please feel free to chat with us and we’ll be more than happy to assist.
The below list of effective real estate postcards are in order of effectiveness:
#1 Just Listed Postcards / Just Sold Postcards
These are the cornerstone of any real estate postcard farming campaign. In addition to your standard just listed postcards and just sold postcards, you should also be mailing under contract postcards and open house postcards. These are what are going to really give your name some brand recognition in your farm.
Homeowners don’t differentiate all of the various stages when they get these postcards or pay attention to them being the same home. When you mail four postcards to your farm they see it as four different listings. Do not underestimate how important these postcards are for REALTORS®.
#2 Market Update Postcards
These postcards take a little bit more time and work since you will probably need to use your expert knowledge to fill in the blanks (literally) of the information your real estate farm will want to know. It is important that the information is localized for the areas that you’re farming.
If you’re in a very urban environment this may mean a specific condo community, if you’re in a more rural area this may mean a zip code or even a town. You’re going to have the best idea of what this means for the area you’re farming but make sure that you aren’t trying to cheat.
At the end of the day you want to provide hyper relevant information. It’s important that your real estate farm looks forward to receiving your postcards because you’re providing real estate market information that they actually want to read.
#3 Automated Seller Valuation Postcards
These are known by all sorts of various names among the real estate agent direct mail community: seller valuations, CMA postcards or comprehensive market analysis postcards, “what’s your home worth” postcards, etc.
They consist of messaging that tells the recipient that they will receive a valuation of their home if they take some action. This action is generally go to a website, scan a QR code, etc. In advanced systems, such as the one that Wise Pelican offers, these use computer algorithms to come up with a valuation.
The whole idea here though isn’t to get the homeowner the most accurate valuation they can possibly get (nobody has that ability, including Zillow), but rather to start the conversation about what a homeowners’ home might sell for.
The nice thing about automated seller valuation postcards is that you get a double bang for your buck: you get to touch your real estate farm with a postcard and continue to build the brand recognition that you’re not just another real estate agent, but that you’re an expert, while also generating warm listing leads of those people that have taken the time to obtain the automated valuation from the postcard.
These are great REALTOR postcards to mail and there are a few companies that provide them. Normally there’s a small additional fee for using these types of postcards since the data to perform these automated valuations isn’t free and, as such, the direct mail company has a cost associate with providing them.
Remember, don’t get bogged down running tests for accuracy, that isn’t the point. The point is to build brand recognition and obtain leads. As long as you’re reaching out and offering to do a true CMA (comprehensive market analysis) to let them know what their home is worth, what the automated valuation spits out isn’t that important and people understand that what’s in tax records, etc. may not accurately reflect the true condition of their home after renovations, etc.
#4 Fun Postcards
These are your filler real estate postcards. They aren’t as ideal because they don’t relate specifically to real estate but they can help you fill gaps and make people smile (which if you’ve been doing a good job of branding yourself, can be very helpful while still serving as a reminder that you’re out there to help them). These are also postcards that have a decent change of being kept, especially if they’re adding value, such as a recipe postcard.
Some of these types of postcards include:
Cocktail Recipe Postcard
Holidays Postcards (from obscure to major winter holidays)
Holiday Food Recipe Postcards (from obscure to major winter holidays)
Holiday Cocktail Recipes (from obscure to major winter holidays)
Contests / giveaway postcards
Postcards kids can color
Where Should I Start Real Estate Farming with Postcards?
Remember that you must start with a budget in mind. This should be a budget that you are comfortable with maintain for 9 to 12 months without seeing a return until the 12 month mark. Once you know this budget, you can divide it by .75 to determine how many homes to farm.
For instance, if your budget is $500 per month, divide that by .75 (the cost of each postcard) to determine that you have a budget of 714 postcards per month. Now we can figure out where to send those postcards.
The number one place you want to start sending your real estate farming postcards to is… wait for it… where you live. Unless this is just an absolutely terrible place to farm for some reason (such as tons of other agents that live there are already farming it with postcards) you really want to start here. This is one of the easiest places to get brand recognition,
It can be good to start off your campaign with some postcards that let people know that you live there, that you’re a real estate agent, and that you’re an expert in the area. Wise Pelican has some real estate agent introduction postcards.
Next you want to look for areas that you know. We learned the hard way that just because you can get listing appointments doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to convert those listing presentations into actual listings. If you can’t speak about the area at all you’re not going to be in great shape to close the deal.
You want to look for areas that satisfy the following criteria:
- At least a 6% annual turnover rate (6% of houses sell each year)
- No one agent is selling more than 25% of the homes
Real Estate Postcard Farming Shouldn’t be Difficult
Remember, just like Gary Keller taught us, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. We know exactly what works when it comes to real estate farming postcard practices: be in it for the long-game, maintain consistent branding, and use proven templates / messaging.
When you’re ready to start mailing real estate farming postcards, Wise Pelican has the templates ready to go.
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