Direct Mail 101: To Whom Should You Send Mail?
The most powerful tool in your direct mail arsenal is your list of recipients. If you’re sending to people who have no need for your services, don’t care about your product and don’t want to do business with you, then you are wasting time and money.
Of course, there is no way to create a list where every single person will want to respond to your mail all the time. However, you can obtain and create recipient lists targeted to specific groups of people. When you tailor your marketing messages to appeal to those people, you’ll see a good response rate and healthy return on investment. For real estate agents, there are three different types of mailing lists: geographical farms, social lists and mixed lists.
Many real estate agents have found great success in farming. When an agent farms, he chooses a geographical area, usually a specific neighborhood or tract, and starts sending direct mail to everyone in that area (aka farm). He becomes an expert in that area. People he mails to will find his information useful because it pertains to their neighborhood. When they are ready to sell their house, many of them will use the farming agent because they trust his expertise.
Wondering where to get your mailing list? Title companies can pull those lists for you. Just give them the parameters and they’ll send you a list of names and addresses. Send this list to your direct mail company so they know where to send your pieces.
Things to consider: When choosing a farm, choose one that frequently has people moving in and out, that way there is always potential business. Farms that are in developing areas and that are near good schools and amenities will usually have higher priced homes. Also, pay attention to your competition. Don’t choose a farm that already has an agent vigorously marketing in that area. Instead, choose one that has no agent presence or whose agent has a weak presence.
A social list is usually comprised of a real estate agent’s past clients, prospective clients, friends and family. These people are usually all spread out, not contained in a specific area like a farm. This is a list you build over time; you don’t purchase it from a title company. It’s a list of people you want to stay in contact with because you want referrals from them, you want their repeat business, or you just thought they were really cool. Since many of these people have done business with you before, they are likely to act on your mailers and do business with you again, or refer you to others.
Things to consider: Agents often send less mail to social lists than they do to farms. The mail they do send is often more personable such as a thank you card or holiday card. Instead of sending monthly or weekly just listed and just sold pieces, they’ll usually send their social list a general market update or business overview every few months.
Some agents have a large geographical area where they market and decide to tailor different marketing messages to different groups in that area. For example, they may want to send a piece only to owners who have lived in their home for 5+ years or to those who may be eligible for a short sale. Talk to your title company about the different criteria they can use to pull targeted lists for you.
Things to consider: Like a social list, it costs more to send a mixed list than a farm. If you send to a targeted mixed list, make sure your message is relevant to their specific needs. For example, if you send to owners eligible to short sell their home, your message should be all about short sales. Having a message tailored to needs of the audience will maximize the effectiveness of the marketing piece.
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