As its name suggests, a direct mail marketing campaign uses traditional mail to deliver a specific message. Perhaps even more importantly, it’s centered on the idea that targeting a certain population will result in the highest response rate.

  • Properly executed, a direct mail campaign has the power to propel any business to the next level.
  • The foundation of any direct mail campaign is the list of contacts you intend to reach.
  • Understanding your target market will help you deliver content that recipients are more inclined to read.

As its name suggests, a direct mail marketing campaign uses traditional mail to deliver a specific message. It’s centered on the idea that targeting a certain population will result in the highest response rate.

Properly executed, a direct mail campaign has the power to propel any business to the next level.  

Results will certainly depend on a number of variables, some of which are in your control and others that aren’t. However, there is one fundamental principle that can’t be ignored over the course of a direct mail marketing campaign: due diligence.

You absolutely need to know what you are doing before you implement a direct mail strategy. That said, here are five rules you must adhere to during your next campaign if you intend to improve your results.

1. Purchase the right list

You are sorely mistaken if you believe blindly marketing to anyone you come across in a phonebook will be met with some degree of success. It just doesn’t work that way.  

In fact, the foundation of any direct mail campaign is the list of contacts you intend to reach. It can be argued that the success or failure of any such campaign is entirely dependent on that list.

Therefore, the most important thing you can do before initiating a direct mail campaign is to acquire the right contacts.

Finding the right list is as simple as conducting a quick Google search for companies selling data in your area. The best direct mail lists to keep an eye out for are:

  • Pre-foreclosure lists
  • Probate lists
  • Bankruptcy lists
  • Free-and-clear landlord lists

Every list of contacts has a price, and it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to get the one that meets your criteria. You simply need to find a list that complements your particular marketing strategy.  

For you, it might be information about delinquent homeowners, people who live out of state, absentee owners or even properties relegated to the probate pool.  

Don’t get ahead of yourself and send letters prematurely. Take your time and do the homework. Find a list that suits your needs and the particular niche you hope to serve.

Just a few extra weeks at the beginning of the process can make all the difference.

Mark Hayes /

Mark Hayes /

2. Focus on your presentation

With the right list in hand, you will have a better idea of the motivation behind each potential seller. Understanding your target market will help you deliver content that recipients are more inclined to read. 

Even the greatest marketing letter won’t get read if it isn’t intended to help the recipient. The content must be presented in a way that captures the attention of your intended audience.  

Let the list you acquire dictate the message you send. What business does someone going through a foreclosure have reading a letter intended for people on the verge of bankruptcy?  

It’s safe to say that simplicity will work in your favor. You will lose your audience if the letter is too long and wordy — or even worse, confusing. The idea is to get your point across in an efficient manner.  

Explain how you can buy the property directly from the seller, for example. At the same time, differentiate yourself from real estate agents that charge commission. Your message should convey that you are an alternative solution — one who can pay cash, close quickly and take the property in an “as-is” condition.

Outside of the content, the physical letter itself will go a long way toward determining whether people read it. Before you write anything, decide if it will be presented as a letter or postcard.

Not surprisingly, each has unique pros and cons. Postcards have an inherent advantage, as they are two-sided and don’t require opening. Your message is more likely to be seen on the back of a postcard, but of course, this option is typically more expensive and limits how much you can write.  

In the event you opt for a traditional letter, you’ll need to choose an envelope. Although seemingly a menial task, the color and style of the envelope can make or break a campaign. Handwritten envelopes typically work better.

3. Practice consistency

More often than not, new investors expect to see results after a single mailing. They are often disappointed when they find that this is not the case. Sending one letter usually provides minimal results.   

Subsequently, even two or three rounds of letters should not be expected to exponentially increase your leads. Anything less than six times will not give you a true sense of what you are working with.

The more times you send a letter to a recipient, the more likely they are to take action. I recommend mailing to a smaller list multiple times rather than pursuing a larger set in which your budget only allows for one or two letters per address.  

Each letter you send eats into your marketing budget, but you will not want to skimp on this particular strategy. You are less likely to see results if you send out fewer letters. The real key is to remain consistent. Only then will you increase your chances of landing a hot lead.

4. Be ready to act

Once you commit to a direct mail campaign, your business needs to be ready to accommodate any incoming leads. It should go without saying — but you need to cater to those who respond to your efforts. 

Far too many business owners aren’t adequately prepared to handle incoming responses, which negates any previous attempt to generate leads. There is nothing more counterproductive than failing to respond to a marketing campaign you spent time and money on.

At the very least, set up a dedicated phone line to handle the influx of calls. By no means should your campaign direct people to your personal phone number.

That way, you will know how to answer every call that comes through, and you won’t run the risk of sounding unprofessional. The smaller the list that you mail to, the easier it should be to manage on your own accord.  

To that end, you must be ready to answer the phone when it rings. There is no excuse not to. Letting the call go to voicemail is as good as throwing money away. I recommend creating a script — that way you can approach every caller consistently and make certain that you don’t forget any questions.

5. Follow up

You will receive calls from many different people who are all dealing with their own unique circumstances. Some will be in a hurry to sell, while others may simply be curious about the service you offer.

Either way, don’t expect everyone to be ready to act. Keep in mind that the very idea of calling you means they are at least interested.

Don’t forget to take down their information. Make a brief note about every call and how the conversation went. That way you will have a reference for the next time you talk.

By not following up, you allow interested parties to consider using someone else when they are ready to act. A simple email or voicemail keeps you on their mind and gives you a leg up on your competition.  

Before you dismiss leads, get a definite answer from them, regardless of which way they are leaning.

With the amount of time I have spent in the real estate investing industry, I have come across more marketing strategies than I can remember. However, the results I have generated from direct mail campaigns are a big reason I am in my position today.  

In the end, I would pit a direct mail marketing campaign up against any other marketing strategy. Although it’s easy to argue semantics, the truth is that direct mail marketing works when it is done correctly.  

In fact, I have used this strategy to find some of my best deals over the years. Those who are able to regularly target the right list with a compelling message will surely be rewarded.  

Than Merrill is the founder and CEO of FortuneBuilders Inc. and CT Homes. Connect with Than on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @ThanMerrill.

Email Than Merrill.

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