This blog is written by Jen Josey, Real Estate Investor, and REIGN Coach. She is not a professional writer and writes as she talks so put your red pen away. Jen is extremely opinionated but reserves the right to change her opinion at any time because, well, that's the way she rolls. She may also use colorful language so don't be offended. Jen does not claim to be an expert, she is just sharing her personal thoughts and adding a perspective on investor topics that may benefit her readers. Jen also finds it strange to write in the third person. Enjoy!
I can remember in the late '70s (I'm aging myself here) when one of the coolest things to own was a Pet Rock. All the kids were talking about it and I feel like everywhere we shopped, you'd see them. Yep, my parents actually PAID MONEY for a stupid rock. Now...it did come with a manual on how to care for your pet rock, a cardboard carrier, and some straw to...you know, keep it comfortable. I really loved Robbie, my pet rock. He was the best companion until the Rubik's Cube came along and took all my attention.
Robbie is a perfect example of how important marketing is to the success of your business. Here are four ways to maximize your marketing and stand out from your competitors.
Sending snail mail to prospective sellers has been one of our most consistent lead generators over the years. Many investors send direct mail so why are some more successful than others? For some, it's volume. They will send 6 or 7 postcards in a 90-day span to a homeowner that is behind on their mortgage payments. For others, a handwritten letter of condolence to a family member that just inherited an unwanted property works wonders.
There are so many list generators out there where an investor can get addresses for pre-foreclosures, probate, expired listings, absentee owners, zombie properties, and more. We learned early on that if we can buy that list of addresses, so can 1000 other investors. To maximize our direct mail, we take a totally different approach.
We like to mail letters to entire neighborhoods. Our favorite neighborhoods are condos and townhomes built in the '80s and '90s. Condos and townhomes are also considered transition housing for many, sometimes a starter home or maybe temporary housing for someone new to the area. The point is, the turnover is higher because the average person lives there for only four years. By sending a letter to everyone in the neighborhood, it may be another year or two before they move but I may be the only person that sent them a letter. My letter states that if they are not interested now but may be planning a move in the future, to hold on to the enclosed business card because "said" neighborhood is one of our favorites.
To make us stand out, we always include our picture, either on a postcard or enclosed business card. We have found that many people rather work with a mom-and-pop organization than a large company. I print our business cards on thicker card stock so when a potential seller receives a letter, they can feel the outline of the card and are compelled to open it to see if it's a credit card or medical card. I also put real stamps on the envelopes instead of computer-generated ones. Lastly, I always put a colorful sticker next to their address label. A silly butterfly sticker just adds to the mystery of who is sending this letter thus making it more likely to open.
Bandit signs are one of the least expensive ways to advertise your business. One downside is that many cities have rules on when or how you can post them. You can get fined by some cities so please check the rules in your area. Another downside is that you have to actually put them up. Simply take action, they will not be effective sitting in the trunk of your car!
Your bandit sign needs to display a message that can be read quickly. Many investors place them in intersections or at the entrances of neighborhoods where there's a lot of flipping going on. I have known people to post them in the parking lot of neighborhood Home Depots or Lowes. This is the perfect place to find homeowners needing to do repairs to their properties. They may have just priced out all the expensive materials and decide to give up completely and then boom...there's your number...promising to solve all their headaches.
Another nugget about bandit signs is whenever you see one, YOU as the investor, should call them. Many people that post bandit signs are wholesalers. This is an easy way to reach out to them directly and get added to their buyers' list. If they are not wholesalers, at least let them know that if they ever get too many properties on their plate, you are happy to buy them quickly.
Whenever you are renovating a property, you should always post a bandit sign. All the work on the property will start sparking interest so you want everyone to know you are in the business of buying properties and flipping them. Having your phone number displayed will also allow potential buyers to connect with you prior to even listing your property.
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and all the others are a must if you want to get leads from referrals. One year, HALF of our projects came from referrals on Facebook. Everyone I am connected to on social media knows what I do for a living. A way to maximize your audience is to post every once in a while, something that elicits a response. If you are just starting out in the real estate investment industry, a great way to announce your new journey is to post a couple of different options for a new logo. Simply post, "I need help choosing a logo...what's your favorite? A, B, C, or D?" People LOVE to give their opinion but the best part is others will inquire on what the heck is this logo for? This will open the door to let all your friends know about your investment business and some of your goals.
Another popular post is to share before and after photos of a rehab you are working on. I learned early on that the best before and after photos are created when you take the shot in the exact same space. I had a very dramatic transformation of a bathroom and the only way they could see it was the same place was because the window was in the same part of the frame. If you are new and don't have any renovations under your belt, simply post two photos of different sink fixtures and ask people to choose their favorite. You can say, "I need help choosing between two fixtures for a new project...which do you prefer? Black matte or gold?" This will also spark some interest in hearing about your "new project".
Lastly, you should have social media accounts for your business too. If a prospective seller receives one of your letters in the mail, they will probably do a search for your business online. Yes, some will just go to your website, but others will start with social media. To make our business page stand out, I like to post informative information about the housing markets in our community. Not only am I promoting our business, but I am also serving as a reference for all things having to do with real estate in our area. This is a great way to get people to share your posts, thus getting your business more exposure.
Putting your business info on any type of swag is a fun way to advertise. Examples of swag can be pens, sticky notes, screen cleaning cloths, t-shirts, and more. I love me a funny t-shirt. Anyone can throw their boring logo and website on a shirt. To maximize attention, get creative and make it something worth reading or looking at. Below are examples of some of our favorite t-shirts.
If you are just starting out with swag, a great place to start is with pens. They are relatively inexpensive and can change hands faster than any other swag. A friend of mine keeps bundles of pens in his car with, "We buy houses As-Is" and his phone number. Every time he goes into a restaurant, he leaves a bundle of 15-20 pens with his server. I attended a real estate mastermind recently and had about 30 pens with my website, www.REIGNmastermind.com on them. Prior to getting on a boat for an excursion, we all had to sign waivers but the tour company didn't have many pens so I passed mine out for free advertising!
Having your business name on swag also builds your credibility. When you are evaluating a property, you should wear some type of company T-shirt or hat so your business appears well established. A car magnet can also be displayed when arriving at a new client's home. It puts the prospective seller at ease providing comfort knowing they are working with professionals.
Lastly, we like to give swag gifts to our private money lenders, contractors, tenants, and more. We have done umbrellas, coffee mugs, and tote bags but the all-time favorite were coolers. Those soft-sided coolers get used a lot more than some would expect and having your business name and website advertised at social gatherings is awesome.
So, in conclusion, get your business name out there any way you can. Just like Robbie, my pet rock, you want to be visible to prospective clients so when they need help selling a home, you are the first business they think of.
If you don't believe me, just keep spinning your fidget spinner...
If you would like to listen to some blogs narrated by Jen herself, search for "Real Estate Investor Growth Network" anywhere you listen to podcasts.
Now go out there and make it a great day!