Satire – a DIY direct mail campaign

I’ve been told that the one thing small business owners need more than anything nowadays is tips on how to save money on stuff by doing things on their own.  There are, of course, resources online that can guide one through any project out there, replete with samples, templates, YouTube’s and all that.  If you got the time, just Google it.  If not, this here bit is a short breakdown of how to create your own direct mail campaign for real estate and related professionals, start to finish, and of course, save some serious dough.

1. Market research Is a WASTE of time and money

Everyone says you have to target your mailing piece to an audience, especially those direct marketing associations and other organizations who charge money for demographic research.  Of course it may work for some industries, but in Real Estate – all men, women and pets were created EQUAL, separated only by their net worth.  So really, your target is whatever you want it to be, easily determinable by the kind of casa prevalent in the area, the size and/or presence of stock portfolio of your average client, and your willingness to pay no attention to anything outside of the dollar signs.  People who buy or sell real estate eat, drink and bleed green.  Remember that.  So check this step off your list.  You are done here.

2. Looks Matter – the biggest overstatement.

This crippling thought was imposed on us by the purveyors of anorexic models parading in stuff no one else could ever wear and the sleek glossy ad-creators.  We know nobody normal buys into the whole polished, pretty or color coordinated stuff, so don’t worry.  There is absolutely no need to spend money on graphic design, when you can just as easily do it yourself.  Heck, we all know how to use a crayon, don’t we?  Given the above, designing your very own direct mail piece should take no more than 30 minutes in these two easy steps:

You need graphics and text.  No need to agonize over either of these two.  Hit the net for free photos, clipart or even real estate specific graphics, and snag the first one that appeals to you.  Don’t worry about DPI (resolution) or size.  By the time you are done printing it yourself (see #3), no one will know the difference.  You don’t have to worry about copyright or attribution either, cause what are the chances the creators of the graphic live anywhere near your particular farm?  Statistically, zip, zilch, none-whatsoever.  So just go for it.

As for text – no biggie here either.  Take a look around your office or at the stuff done by your competition and do the same thing.  There is infallible logic in the assumption that the stuff everyone does must work, or people would stop doing it.  Here is what works in real estate: Free Market Report (or any of the euphemisms for same) and a call to action. A call to action is simply CALL NOW type thing that tells the consumer exactly what you want them to do and gives them the means to do it.  So CALL NOW with the phone number right there is perfect. Don’t overthink the text – most people won’t read it anyway, they’ll just go straight for your phone number, so remember to make it as huge as possible, and you’re done.

3. Printing Quality Matters – total bull.

Here is why: people get so much crap in their mail boxes , especially people who actually have money and remember, those are the only folks you are interested in speaking to, that no matter what you send, it’ll be lost in the giant sea of crap (see number 4).  Heck, if anything, I recommend going with the cheapest printer you can get on ebay.com and really skimpy stock (you know, the type you can pick us at some liquidation sale for virtually nothing).  Save even more by using black toner only!  In those communities, it just may be that the crappier your mailing piece looks and feels, the more chance it has of standing out.

4. Consistency Trumps ALL – finally, an absolutely true statement.

Once you decide on your mailing piece, no matter what happens, you have to send it at least once a month to the same area for anywhere from 6 months to 15 years to get any measurable results.  I know that sounds like a lot, but since you’ll be saving all this money on design, photos, printing, market research – you can put it all to good use by bludgeoning the same people over and over again.  It’s proven to work in any market under any economic conditions, guaranteed.

5. Reputation + branding. Blah, blah, blah…

If you happen to be one of those agents who works for a big name brokerage with standards for the way their stuff looks, like Sotheby’s or some such obnoxiously ego-driven firm, leave.  Run away to a mom and pop shop, or they will never ever let you do the stuff that I am writing about here.  Nobody cares if you work for Sotheby’s or CraftyRealtorsUnite, it’s all about YOU, not them.  So make sure YOUR NAME is prominently displayed on all your stuff in huge bold letters.  All CAPS are definite attention getters, use lots of them…  Underline, bold AND capitalize everything you want people to remember (and that’s simply YOUR NAME AND PHONE NUMBER).  Trust me, the less subtle, the better.

6. It costs too much money to mail stuff.

True, but if you are smart – it can work out to not costing you a dime.  Call it a power partnership.  Us, industry folks, call it cooperative advertising, but there is nothing cooperative about it.  It’s your piece, and you call the shots.  Here is what you do.  Take your sample design piece, blow it up to poster size (11X17 at the very least) at your local Kinko’s or Staples (it’ll be $3 or $4 bucks well spent), and then simply walk it into all the little stores and businesses you can think of.  For a fraction of the cost of doing they own mailing, they can now occupy a small space on the piece you prepared.  If you make the names/logos of those businesses really small, you can squeeze a dozen or so into the blank spots of a standard 4X6 postcard.  It’s not that hard.  Heck, if you play your cards right, and don’t suck at sales (which being a real estate person, you obviously don’t), you can even make these things profitable.  And then, if you want to take it to the next logical step – you can charge other realtors in a non-competing area for teaching them how to not only get your own direct mail campaign done on the cheap, but how to profit from it.  Now, that’s what I call ancillary income.

So there you have it.  Here is an example of a DIY card that you can put together in no time.

direct marketing campaigns - what not to do

It’s yours for the taking (less my SouthPark self-portrait, cause that’s mine).  And remember in 6 months to 15 years – you should definitely OWN your market.

(a disclaimer and a caveat: this is, indeed, satire.  I was told that some might take this as bona fide advice.  Don’t.)

Copyright 2010, Inna Hardison.  Don’t steal from the starving artists, cause it’s illegal and plain freakin’ wrong.  You want to republish this – just ask.

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One Response to Satire – a DIY direct mail campaign
  1. Antonio Beattie
    September 21, 2011 | 11:12 pm

    I can not tell you how many times I went back to school so I can learn how to do things myself and stop outsourcing it.
    Direct marketing Door to door marketing I found to be most successful way for me.

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