Marketing for Agents: Making Snail Mail Effective

Mike Blaney
August 21, 2014

Direct mail is the oldest form of direct marketing and has endured and prospered in spite of the advent of the internet and email. No other form of direct marketing makes the same impression on customers as a targeted, well-designed direct mail piece.

Does it work? Think back to the last time you wanted to replace your roof or thought your car needed an oil change. Did you find yourself more attentive to the "junk mail" coming through your door in hopes of finding a service provider? Maybe a discount coupon you could use?

It is the same with real estate direct mail. If seven per cent of people move each year and you mail 1,000 pieces, then 70 recipients are hyper-sensitive to real estate direct mail in their search for a Real Estate Agent. It's a numbers game.

A study some years ago from the US Postal Service showed that when customers are retrieving and reading their mail a period of time known as "the mail moment" they are highly focused and attentive to the contents of their mail. This daily ritual provides a unique opportunity for Real Estate Agents to get their messages read. A direct mail piece with personalization and colour makes it a high-impact form of direct marketing, helping you take advantage of the "mail moment" and spur customers into action.

In a survey commissioned by Pitney Bowes and DMNews, 73 per cent of consumers said they prefer mail for receiving new product announcements or offers from companies they do business with, compared with 18 per cent for email. Mail was also preferred by 70 per cent of respondents for receiving unsolicited information on products and services from companies with which they are not currently doing business.

One other interesting fact is 26 per cent of Canadians would be more likely to read unsolicited communication if it was personalized.

So what are the top three ways to improve the effectiveness of your direct mail program?

You have five seconds or less to make enough of an impact on the reader that they will either set aside your direct mail for reading later or flip it over while they are looking at it.

Bad Headlines Good Headlines

Just Sold - 1234 Main Street Selling? That Is What I Just Did in Your Neighbourhood

Just Sold - 1234 Main Street Check Out the Real Estate Market in Mount Pleasant!

Just Listed - 1234 Main Street Looking for a BIGGER Home for Your Growing Family?

Just Listed - 1234 Main Street Kids Moving Out? Perfect Home for Downsizing

There are many direct mail experts telling you that a minimum of 12, 18 or 24 pieces a year is required, but depending on your budget and resources I would aim for 12 touches a year and mix them up. Over the 12 months you could send the following:

If your direct mail is a picture of a house you just sold, then it is only of interest to the seven per cent of people thinking of moving, but if it included valuable information it is far more likely to be retained for future reference or even end up on the fridge.

Here are some fridge-worthy ideas to get you going.

Local Events Schedule:Send them a calendar of all of the local events. It is something they will read and put on the fridge for reference and the connection to you will be much stronger as they will appreciate the effort you have made but it doesn't have to take a lot of time or money.

Blank Phone Number Directory:On the back of a direct mail piece you can have a heading "Important Phone Numbers" and lines they can write on. Without a Yellow Pages, important numbers are often hard to find. It is unselfish and shows you are thinking about the recipient. Put it this way: it is about them not you and it will be kept by the recipient for a long time as they complete it and the numbers are important to them.

Local Restaurant Directory:Research and compile a list of local restaurants near your farm area. Ask yourself if you would keep a local Restaurant Guide? Would you tuck it into the drawer in the kitchen or put it up on the refrigerator? Would it make you think of the sender every time you looked at it? Would it keep them closer to the top of your mind when you are thinking of using their service or product? This piece is perfect for "refrigerator marketing" as it is kept on the fridge for a lot longer than a sale flyer or Just Listed postcard.

Direct Mail Idea for Summer:Compile a list of local golf courses and water parks where families like to go and put all of the information on the back of postcard.

Like all of your marketing efforts, direct mail is a process. It requires planning, preparation and hard work to maximize the return on investment. It costs the same to mail an ineffective direct mail piece as it does an effective mail piece. The difference is in the effort you put into the process.

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