Once you've got the basics, it's time to do a little more digging.
Nearly every home search starts online these days. Sorting through listings, photos, floor plans and descriptions is a great way to feel out the market for those who are in the earliest stages of the home search.
When you find a home you’re ready to bid on, it’s incredible how much background information you can find online. The Internet is full of data on past home sales, recorded sales prices, and the history of each sale, plus information that may not be as obvious — such as the safety of the neighborhood you’re considering buying into.
Here are three ways to use online tools and real estate mobile apps to get more details about the home you want.
Check building records
Nearly all public information and documentation is now available online, and most municipalities provide web access to building permit history. Although the law requires most sellers to disclose previous work done on the property, there may be a history of earlier work the seller didn’t know about.
For example, if there is a newer bathroom or kitchen but no history of a permit for the work, there is a chance someone did the work without a permit — and potentially not to health or safety code. And if you become the owner, this unpermitted work becomes your responsibility.
To begin your search, type “building records,” plus your city’s name into your favorite search engine. Example: “building records Seattle.”
Use Google Street View
Researching an address using Google’s Street View can be one of the most revealing options available. Street View provides a snapshot of a property at a particular moment in time, which can provide insight into the recent history of the property or neighborhood.
Be aware, however, that the image you see may not accurately reflect the home’s current state. For example, I helped a homeowner list and sell a home in San Francisco’s Lower Haight neighborhood a few years back. We planted a beautiful garden area to create a buffer between the sidewalk and the windows. But a search for the property on Google Street View revealed the windows with bars on them, and no garden. The previous owner had bars on the window, and someone had removed the bars to make the property look more inviting.
Seeing the windows with bars on them in Google Street View could raise questions for potential buyers: Is the neighborhood unsafe? Was there a history of crime in the community or on the property? Are the street-level windows safe?
Consult a neighborhood crime app
A variety of crime reporting apps for mobile devices show on a map recent crimes that have been reported, including assault, theft, robbery, homicide, vehicle theft, sex offenders, and quality of life (which often means noise complaints). It’s an easy way to get a quick overview of how safe or unsafe a neighborhood is.
So much information is available to buyers these days. You don’t need to rely solely on the seller’s or the real estate agent’s disclosures. Use online resources to find out as much background information on a property as you can, either before making an offer or during your contingency period. It is best to do as much research as possible, in order to make an informed final decision.
On Point Homevestments
Shopping for a home has evolved over the years. Here's what you need to know about the new generation of buyers.
For years we’ve seen the shift in Baby Boomers ditching their large suburban homes for the excitement of urban life. And we’re noticing the reverse from millennials: leaving behind small spaces along with the hustle and bustle of the city.
They’re open to a new world of suburban living, with single-family homes, more storage and closet space, and some outdoor space all their own.
These millennials, born between the mid ’80s and the late ’90s, came of age in a shifting cultural and social environment. Their experiences aren’t the same as their Baby Boomer parents, and as such, their preferences differ from those of their parents, who bought a generation ago.
Here are some real estate considerations to help you sell to millennial buyers.
Millennials are busy
Today’s young people work long hours, and they want to spend the free time they have with friends and family.
They’re also more transient than their parents’ generation. So, when it comes to real estate, many of them seek turn-key homes for quick and easy move-in. They can’t fathom taking the time to undertake renovating a bathroom or kitchen.
No matter how great the opportunity, many of today’s buyers aren’t interested in painting or “making it their own” as our parents did when they moved into homes they planned on living in for 30 years or more.
Home searching is like dating
Millennials grew up attached to their phones. They hail a car and order food with their fingertips. And now, instead of meeting at a bar, they date with their thumbs. Swipe right for the potential mate, or reject them by swiping left.
When it’s time to buy a home, their experience is much the same, thanks to smartphones and real estate apps. As a home seller, you and your agent must invest an incredible amount of time and money on your home’s photo shoot. If you don’t, you may never get a first “date” with your prospective suitor. If the buyer isn’t drawn to your photos, they’re on to the next place.
Bigger is no longer better
In the ’80s, a McMansion with quadruple master closets, oversized Jacuzzi tubs, formal rooms, and large basements were a sign of success, and coveted by home buyers.
Today, millennials want smaller and simpler homes on smaller parcels. Bigger houses or any land more than half an acre equals more work and maintenance to these first-time buyers, accustomed to the easy life.
You can’t make your home smaller, but if you are serious about selling and want to account for this trend, your price will need to meet the market.
Location matters more than ever
Millennial buyers want the urban experience, as best as they can get, in the ‘burbs. This means homes that are walking distance to a village or town, near the train, and in bustling neighborhoods are among the most popular.
While being away from town, secluded, and with more land was a status symbol in the ’80s, it’s a deal killer today. Unfortunately, you can’t move your home to a better location — but you can adjust your price to meet the market.
If you’re a Boomer selling a long-time family home now or in the future, and the millennial is your potential buyer (think: customer), you need to adjust your mindset to meet theirs. You can’t assume that anything related to your original home search applies today. Get ahead of it, or your home may spend many months (or even years) on the market.
On Point Homevestments
Few things are more important to the typical residential redeveloper than a real estate marketing campaign. Nothing, as far as we aware, can set your business up for more success than a properly executed marketing funnel. Where do you think all of those leads are coming from?
It’s worth noting, however, that a truly great real estate marketing campaign isn’t going to create itself. If you want to benefit from a great marketing strategy, you will need to mind due diligence, strategize and plan accordingly. Only those that put in the work beforehand will be able to realize the potential of a great marketing campaign. Today’s best investors realize it, and there is no reason you shouldn’t: a proper real estate marketing campaign is the secret to a successful business.
In order to get to a point in which your real estate marketing campaign is working for you, instead of against you, you must first lay the proper foundation. Unbeknownst to many, however, that foundation starts with the investor. You must first clarify some things for yourself before you can even consider executing a marketing strategy. And in doing so, we recommend asking yourself some very important questions.
We want to make it abundantly clear: we are not asking you to challenge conventional wisdom, but rather seek clarity. In asking yourself three simple questions, you should be able to lay the foundation for a sound real estate marketing campaign.
Real Estate Marketing Campaign Questions
What Niche Am I currently Serving?
Real estate investing is as diverse as it is comprehensive. And as such, there are a number of ways one could go about making a name for themselves. Most new investors are better off focusing on a niche, as to not stretch themselves too thin before they get the hang of things. Not surprisingly, the same concept applies to the average real estate marketing campaign. Those that intend to service every area of the market will quickly find that they aren’t able to master any, but rather paint themselves as a “jack of all trades.” And while you may not associate such a moniker with a negative connotation, it’s better to be the master of one niche than the second fiddle in a number of others.
Having said that, a specialized marketing strategy will make it a lot easier to stand out as the best in your respective market. At the very least, specialization awards you the opportunity to stand out from the pack. What’s more, it can define your business while simultaneously answering more questions than it asks. Perhaps even more importantly, it allows you to build a strong foundation on which to build a brand.
Those that are new to the industry have to identify they niche in which their company currently operates. Only then will you be able to meet the needs of those you serve. Once your target audience is aware of your specialization, there is no reason to believe they won’t choose you based on merit alone.
Who Is My Intended Audience?
Those intent on initiating a marketing campaign had better get one thing straight: who their audience is. If for nothing else, even the best marketing campaigns will fall on deaf ears if they aren’t directed at a specific demographic. The only way to convey your message in an efficient manner is to identify who is on the receiving end. So before you go and spend your entire budget on what you assume to be your target audience, make sure you know who you are talking to (beyond the shadow of a doubt).
For those looking to catch the attention of a particular audience, I highly recommend creating a character profile; one that highlights every fundamental demographic of your ideal clientele. And for what it’s worth, what you hope to accomplish as a investor will dictate your audience, not the other way around.
What age group are you interested in catering to? Do the people you intend to capture the business of fall within a certain socioeconomic profile? Or, perhaps you want to get more specific. As a real estate investor, the more you are able to learn about your audience, the better. Get some boots on the ground, mind due diligence and, above all, get to know the very people you intend to serve.
When all is said and done, it’s not so much that you should understand who you are speaking to, but rather how to speak directly to them. If for nothing else, knowing how to speak to an audience will elicit a more positive response than, say, a practice in ignorance. One thing is for certain: those that don’t know their audience certainly won’t know how to speak to them. At the very least, familiarizing yourself with those you intend to cater to will award you the opportunity to express yourself in a more efficient way; one that is better suited to your endgame as a real estate investor. Only once your audience is captivated by your message will you see improvements in your response rate. And only once you know your audience can you captivate them. What is marketing if not a means of captivating a particular group of people?
What Problems Do My Services Address?
Very few (if any) inquiries resonate on a higher level than those that question the purpose of your entire real estate marketing campaign. Quite simply, it’s not about what you have to offer those you intend to serve, but rather the solutions you can provide for the problems your customers already have. Remember, most customers aren’t looking for the latest and greatest; they are looking for a specific solution to an existing problem.
Instead of relegating your marketing approach to the things you do well, your campaign should pay special considerations to the solutions your service provides. It’s a small difference, but a difference nonetheless: your clientele (especially in the real estate industry) will tend to gravitate to where they can find the answers to their problems. If you can identify the issues bothering the majority of your clients, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to draft a marketing campaign tailor-made to speak to their needs; think about how powerful of a message that sends.
A truly great real estate marketing campaign is the result of countless hours of hard work. However, before you can actually implement your own strategy, you need to know which direction you intend to head. With a roadmap of sorts, it will be a lot easier to get to where you want to go. I maintain that those who can answer these three questions with confidence will know the direction they want to go, and be better off because of it.
ON POINT HOMEVESTMENTS
Investing in real estate has become synonymous with a great deal of fundamental business practices, not the least of which include philanthropic initiatives. If for nothing else, charitable actions are amongst the best real estate marketing strategies an aspiring company can pursue, as they generate the positive exposure necessary to succeed in today’s competitive business environment.
Remember, real estate marketing is as much about selling yourself as it is about selling your services. You need to sell people on the idea that you are their best option; only then will you be able to establish the following you deserve — marketing in its truest form.
Remember one thing: The most loyal customers aren’t bought, but rather earned. If you can prove that your services are worth the price of admission, you are much more likely to develop meaningful relationships with your customer base, and there is no better way — at least that I am aware of — to generate loyal customers than a wholehearted, genuine commitment to philanthropy.
More often than not — and rightfully so — the impact of a charitable effort is measured in the volume of those it set out to accommodate. It’s worth noting, however, that the benefits of a philanthropic initiative are typically far wider than many business owners anticipate. While the main objective is — and always should be — to give back, it’s entirely possible for a company to benefit in the process. In my experience, there is no better real estate marketing campaign than corporate philanthropy, as few vehicles can help business owners reduce risk, expand in new markets, build a trustworthy brand, reduce costs, advance systems, and deliver more loyal customers.
Real Estate Marketing & Philanthropy
In our opinion, there is no greater feeling, no greater satisfaction, than the prospect of making a difference in the very community I serve. It’s worth noting, however, that charitable efforts aren’t without additional benefits; benefits that can go a long way in helping your own company succeed. And while I can’t stress enough how important it is for your charitable efforts to come from a genuine place, that doesn’t mean you can’t partake in the advantageous wake that follows.
We want to encourage real estate investors to view philanthropic initiates as catalysts for revolutionary ideas and progression. Let’s take a look at what real estate investors can expect from their own investment in social issues:
1. New & Progressive Relationships
We have all heard it before; real estate is a people business (it always has been and always will be). That’s not to say you are in business to meet people, but it’s worth noting that those you surround yourself with play an important and immediate role in your success as an investor. Some would argue that it’s not what you know, but rather who you know. I, however, am convinced that you need a great deal of both knowledge and relationships if you hope to realize any level of success.
There are a number of ways to go about building meaningful relationships, and philanthropy is no exception. In fact, there are few steps an investor can take that are better at building relationships than selfless acts of charitable kindness. Remember, people want to work with those they can trust, and few actions elicit more trust than placing the needs of others ahead of your own.
While they may be viewed as unintended consequences, relationships are every bit the result of selfless acts. And for what it’s worth, those bonds are invaluable to any business looking to spread the word of what they do. After all, what is real estate marketing; if not for a way to increase brand awareness? Don’t hesitate to use the relationships you develop from philanthropic initiatives to your advantage; it may be the best real estate marketing move you ever decide to make.
2. More Brand Exposure
It has been said that “a well-developed philanthropic program will resonate with clients on a deep, emotional level that goes beyond any creative ad campaign.” Charitable actions contribute to a real estate marketing strategy in more ways than many could even fathom. Not unlike how philanthropy supports the creation of new relationships, it also helps build a credible brand image; the cornerstone of a great real estate marketing campaign.
Provided your company decides to put it’s own philanthropic initiative into motion, there is a good chance it will receive some coverage. Whether or not it makes national news will depend on the act of kindness, but there is a good chance a local newspaper will want to cover your efforts. As a result, more people will be made aware of the brand you have already built. What’s more, they will associate your brand with the same charitable act you carried out; a powerful combination.
3. Increased Employee Engagement
The most important brand advocates for a company are those that understand it intimately, and who better understands a company than the people working within its ranks? That said, you are only hurting yourself if you don’t see the people you work with as a valuable real estate marketing tool.
Employees that are proud to work for a company are much more likely to share their respective feelings, and in a world connected by social media, a few positive words can be echoed across the entire planet in a matter of minutes. It’s also worth noting that the more engaged employees are, the more they are going to express their positive sentiment.
We have found that, at its core, philanthropy promotes employee engagement. Not surprisingly, employees are a lot more engaged when they know they can make a difference in the community they serve. In doing so, you will notice a fire that can’t be lit from your typical nine-to-five. There is something about giving back to the community that ignites a fire under employee’s feet. What’s more, it’s entirely possible for that passion to express itself in a way that creates a company culture; one that customers would be more than happy to support.
Real estate marketing is all about putting your service in front of as many eyes as possible, and few things can increase your exposure more so than a genuine philanthropic initiative.
ON POINT HOMEVESTMENTS
Can’t stress it enough: implementing a direct mail marketing campaign is one of the best decisions a real estate investor can make on their own. And while many are quick to presume the days of direct mail are as antiquated as they are irrelevant, I couldn’t disagree more. For what it’s worth, direct mail has resulted in some of my greatest real estate deals, and there is no reason to believe it can’t do the same for you.
There is something about a properly executed direct mail marketing campaign that can’t be reproduced by any other medium; it elicits a sense of personalization that can’t be easily replicated. At the same time, it offers advantages that can’t be found everywhere else:
If you like what you see, perhaps it’s time to start a direct mail marketing campaign of your own. Let’s take a look at the five steps required to get the ball rolling.
The 5-Step Direct Mail Marketing Campaign System
Step 1: Determine Your Budget
Prior to engaging in any sort of marketing campaign, direct mail or otherwise, you must formulate a plan from which the rest of your efforts will be founded. Even the best marketing ideas will fall on deaf ears without proper direction. It’s worth noting, however, that no plan is complete without a corresponding budget. As a real estate investor, few things are more important to your marketing success than determining an appropriate budget.
Ask yourself what a reproducible and realistic budget will look like for where you are currently at. Perhaps even more importantly, what can you afford to spend on a direct mail campaign every single week? The number you come up with will dictate the direction you head and the extent of your upcoming campaign. Be careful not to stretch yourself too thin or commit too large of a budget at first. I recommend starting off with what you feel comfortable doing, and perhaps expanding later if the results justify doing so.
Before you set your budget, I want to encourage you to mind due diligence. Don’t simply assume you already know the response rate or return on investment a direct mail campaign could result in; get some boots on the ground and crunch some numbers yourself. Talk to local investors that have implemented a similar campaign nearby and get a feel for what to expect. It helps to know everything from how much homes are selling for to the type of seller you are targeting. And while every neighborhood is going to be different, it’s better to collect data than to assume.
The idea is to determine, to the best of your ability, whether or not implementing a direct mail marketing campaign will produce a return on investment worth pursuing. And while it may be hard to justify the upfront costs of a direct mail marketing campaign, remember one thing: you are building a business that could greatly benefit from a single deal; all it takes is one hot lead to make every marketing dollar worth the investment. So before you rush into launching a direct mail marketing campaign of your own, first be sure to vet any possible outcomes. If you can comfortably say it will be worth it, feel free to move on to the next step.
Step 2: Identify Your Target Audience & Obtain Lists
Only once you have determined an appropriate budget can I recommend moving forward with a direct mail marketing campaign. Provided you have nailed down your budget, however, the next step is to identify your target audience. At this time, you must make it clear as day who you intend to market to. In doing so, it will be a lot easier to source the list to which you will mail.
Instead of simply mailing to an entire neighborhood, give yourself the best odds by targeting a specific niche. And whether you realize it or not, there are a myriad of different homeowners to target, each of which need to be addressed in their own unique way. Below you will find a list of the types of homeowners investors have had success mailing to:
It’s entirely possible to acquire lists (for a small fee) consisting of highly targeted homeowners. That said, it’s in your best interest to obtain said list and narrow your focus. Keep in mind that your message should be tailor made to the niche you intend to cater to. Remember, your prospects need to feel as if you understand their personal situation; the more personal you can make the letter, the better. And you can’t personalize your direct mail campaign until you know who you are mailing to.
To identify the list that works best for your situation, you need to refer back to your plan. What you intend to accomplish will help you decide which type of homeowner to target. For instance, if your goal is to establish a short sale business, you will probably find more luck mailing to those homeowners in pre-foreclosure.
Whatever you hope to accomplish, don’t move forward with a direct mail marketing campaign until you know who you are mailing to. Only then will you place the odds in your favor. Otherwise, you may find yourself throwing valuable marketing dollars down the drain.
Step 3: Set Up A Drip Marketing Campaign
With list in hand, it’s finally time to start setting things in motion. I recommend implementing a drip campaign; a strategy that will ensure consistent contact with respective homeowners on your list. As its name suggests, a drip campaign will continuously place your company and your message in front of the prospects that will heed it the most. That way, you build a rapport with the recipient without ever having talked to them. At a certain point, they will begin to recognize your brand and eventually feel more comfortable with your marketing.
Let’s take a look at what a direct mail marketing drip campaign might look like:
I can’t stress it enough: you must remain consistent in your direct mail marketing efforts. Never assume one letter will be enough to grab the attention of a homeowner, because its probably not. The idea is to gradually introduce yourself to distressed homeowners over a period of time. It’s been proven that response rates greatly increase upon receiving a third or fourth letter, so don’t give up after the first round.
Step 4: Set Up Your Inbound System
Provided you have executed a flawless direct mail campaign, you have every reason to believe you might get some responses. However, if you aren’t ready for an influx of inquiries, you could have wasted a lot of time and effort. You need to be prepared to answer the phones when your letters start producing results. Set up an inbound system that will take care of and organize the homeowners that contact you.
At this time, determine the best way for homeowners to contact you. Will you give them an email, a phone number or a Google Voice number? Whatever the case may be, you have to be ready to receive inquiries. I recommend avoiding using your personal number. Dedicate a line or a website to collecting the caller information.
Step 5: Track & Organize
Tracking and organizing your direct mail results is equally as important as executing a well-devised campaign, if not more so. If for nothing else, it’s the tracking of your results that will allow you to fine-tune your efforts moving forward.
Whenever you send out a piece of direct mail, be sure to have a way of tracking it; the response rate, that is. In doing so, you will have insight into what is working and, perhaps even more importantly, what isn’t. Only once you are properly tracking your response rate can you spend your marketing dollars more wisely. If you notice one strategy lacking in responses, you may want to consider eliminating it. On the other hand, if you have noticed one strategy picking up the slack, you may want to allocate more funds to the direct mail piece generating the best results.
In tracking your direct mail marketing campaign, it’s entirely possible to increase efficiency, effectiveness and your response rate. Once you have a tracking system down, there is no reason to believe every dollar isn’t being maximized.
I maintain that the time-tested direct mail marketing campaign is more valid than ever. If for nothing else, it offers a personal alternative to an industry that is becoming more impersonal by the day. There is no reason to believe distressed homeowners wont appreciate the time and effort placed in a well-devised direct mail strategy. If you are looking to generate more leads, look no further.
Real estate direct mail marketing has withstood the test of time, and is still an investor’s greatest ally in an industry as competitive as residential redevelopment.
In an industry as ripe with competition as real estate, one has a tendency to do everything in their power to stay ahead of the curve, and for good reason. Those that aren’t able to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack are surely to be relegated to a forgotten memory. At the very least, neglecting to stand out will place your real estate business behind the proverbial eight-ball.
It’s worth noting, however, that standing apart from the competition has become synonymous with adopting the latest technologies or conforming to the latest trends. Isn’t it funny how staying ahead of the competition requires one to adopt the same real estate marketing trends of their competitors? In order to be the best in today’s real estate market, you have to do what everyone else is doing — only better. For what it’s worth, trends become trends for one simple reason: they work. The advent of technology has certainly come to the aid of residential re-developers and investors on multiple levels. It’s hard to imagine operating a successful real estate investment company without the likes of Facebook or Instagram to boost your brand identity or increase public exposure.
But I digress, sometimes the best practices are not those on the cutting edge of technology, but rather those things we are most familiar with that offer the best results. While I strongly advise coming to terms with industry trends, it doesn’t hurt to use an old trick or two, especially when marketing your services for leads. In fact, there is one real estate marketing strategy that I maintain will trump its counterparts now, and well into the future: direct mail. Real estate direct mail marketing has never been a more viable option than it is today, and every real estate investor needs to include it in their consorted efforts to gain exposure.
The Truth Behind Real Estate Direct Mail Marketing
I urge you to consider a real estate direct mail marketing campaign, as it’s not quite time to relegate the age old strategy to the pages of antiquity. If for nothing else, a direct mail strategy (if done correctly) may actually serve as one of your strongest lead generation outlets. Nothing, at least that I am aware of, combines cost-effective lead generation with a conversion rate as high as real estate direct mail marketing.
Despite what every tendency in your body tells you, print is not dead. While society has turned ever more to the likes of digital media and mobile devices, there will always be a time and a place for printed media — even with online efforts encroaching on its territory. If for nothing else, printed materials are not an ultimatum, but rather a compliment.
According to the Direct Mail Association, “Direct mail continues to serve as a key driver in most omnichannel marketing plans. It’s complemented well by online efforts, and fills a much-needed niche. Where online is generally low-cost, low impact, print is higher-cost, higher impact. Where online marketing is passive, direct mail is active. Direct mailings are proactive and tactile – demanding that the recipient DO something with it.”
The Direct Mail Association supported their claim, and acknowledged that direct mail marketing efforts “accounted for 46.8BB of spending” last year. What’s more, spending resulting from direct mail is expected to eclipse 2015’s numbers by year’s end. It’s hard to argue against the viability of real estate direct mail marketing, as the age old strategy continues to command a substantial budget from today’s most perennial marketing platforms, and there is no reason you shouldn’t do the same.
Data released by the Print on Demand Institute (PODI) found that direct mail marketing efforts coincided with some of the highest conversion rates of any other medium, which begs the question: Why wouldn’t you consider real estate direct mail marketing for your own company?
I maintain that real estate investors need to view direct mail as a compliment to a larger marketing strategy. It’s not enough to simply send out printed media and hope for a response; you need complement it with subsequent outlets. That said, real estate direct mail marketing reaches its true potential when it is optimized with other factors. In fact, every real estate direct mail marketing effort should coincide with printed media that sends its recipients to an online platform; it’s the dual platform approach that makes direct mail so valuable.
If that wasn’t enough, direct mail has the ability to remain visible to the public for longer periods of time than its online counterpart. According to the Direct Mail Association, “direct mail also enjoys longer “shelf life” than email, so it might be profitable to evaluate your existing landing pages and offers to see what can be repurposed to offer through direct mail. If you do, remember that people may access it weeks after the mailing, so make sure that the pages and offers are still good—or put a firm deadline on response time.”
It’s worth noting, however, that the benefits of a real estate direct mail campaign extend beyond physical marketing efforts. At the very least, direct mail is a lot easier to track than digital media, making the resulting analytics more valuable to future efforts. The more you are able to learn from previous attempts, the more successful your future endeavors will be.
All things considered, real estate direct mail marketing has withstood the test of time for one simple reason: few marketing platforms can promise a similar conversion rate with such a minimal capital investment. Don’t make the mistake of thinking online media has replaced printed media completely; implement a real estate direct mail marketing campaign in your business as soon as possible.
Bandit signs are responsible for landing me some of the best deals of my career, and they can do the same for you.
What’s a bandit sign?
In their simplest form, bandit signs are nothing more than small billboards. However, don’t let their small stature fool you. They are an intricate piece to any strategic direct-response marketing strategy.
Their versatility has become the topic of some rather polarizing debates. The nature of their placement, which typically has marketers staking them into the ground of heavily trafficked areas or hanging within eyesight of motorists, has become controversial, to say the least.
If for no other reason than their ambiguous relationship with strict city ordinances, these marketing tools have been dubbed “bandit signs.”
Keep in mind that although bandit signs are not permitted everywhere, they are still recognized as one of the best lead generating strategies for business owners of any type.
Outside of their placement, bandit signs are nothing more than posters conveying a specific message. Most people prefer using corrugated plastic because it is relatively cost-effective, lightweight, durable and weather-resistant.
For marketing purposes, businesses are advised to keep their wording short and to the point. Anything that takes longer than a second or two to read is too long. Real estate investors, for example, will typically provide a phone number and a variation of the phrase “we buy houses.”
Bandit sign regulations
Not every local municipality condones the placement of bandit signs. I want to be perfectly clear here: Always remember to check with local town officials regarding the regulations of sign placement. Any violation of city codes on your behalf could result in a punishment — typically, a fine.
Having said that, many cities have found it easier to enforce responsible bandit sign practices than to adhere to strict no-sign policies. Some local governments have even tried to accommodate investors willing to work with them.
It is not uncommon for certain municipalities to allow the use of bandit signs on certain days of the week, provided the owner of the signs registers them with the city.
Again, check with your local municipality before placing any signage. Once you are given the green light, you’ll have access to one of the simplest, most effective marketing tools in today’s real estate landscape.
Budget and plan
Assuming you have decided to move forward with your bandit sign strategy, and are comfortable that no laws are being broken, the next step will require you to draft a plan of attack within the confines of a budget you are comfortable spending.
Having said that, it’s one thing to randomly place bandit signs around a neighborhood, but it’s another to actually expect results. There must be a reason behind every move you make over the course of a bandit sign campaign. Understand where the best places are to put your signs and when people are most likely to see them.
With an idea of what you want to do, impose a budget to supplement your desired goals. Understand what it will take to run a campaign of this size on a weekly basis. But how do you do that?
Allocate a healthy amount of funds to keep your bandit sign campaign up and running for the foreseeable future. It’s the top of your marketing funnel, and it will likely be in play for a long time.
Bandit signs are the top of your marketing funnel, and they will likely be in play for a long time.
It’s important to note that any money you spend on a bandit sign campaign should be viewed as an investment; they are a vehicle that will bring you more leads and help you close more deals. What you invest could potentially return tenfold in the event you land a deal.
Your marketing efforts will all be for naught if you aren’t prepared to handle the influx of incoming leads. Having said that, dedicate resources to capture leads resulting from your bandit sign campaign.
Wherever your signs direct leads, whether it is a phone number or an email, be prepared for what is coming next: curious — and sometimes desperate — sellers.
Have a lead intake system in place to cater to their inquiries. Whatever you put in place must enable you to keep track of incoming leads and permit you to respond to them in a timely fashion.
Have personally had the most luck with the following lead intake systems:
Bandit sign creation
With all of the preparation out of the way, it’s time for the fun stuff: actually making the bandit sign. Now is when you will want to draft the final version of the signs you intend to display. There are a number of websites that specialize in this particular field. Feel free to shop around and work with one that meets your needs.
When creating your sign, consider the following:
Recommend creating anywhere between 200 to 500 signs, knowing that unforeseen circumstances can result in lost signage. Anything from poor weather to competing businesses can subtract from your total.
Make sure you have enough in reserve to continue with your marketing efforts. Remember, consistency is essential for a marketing campaign of this nature.
The last thing you want to do is go through all the trouble of making hundreds of bandit signs, only to realize you don’t know what to do with them. Conduct the appropriate market research in your area.
Where is the best place to post your signs? Can you legally post on the corner you like? What area will get the most visibility? These are all questions you must know the answers to before you start.
Recommend evaluating the economic status of any neighborhoods you are interested in advertising in. Target distressed neighborhoods, if at all possible, because they are more likely to harbor owners intent on selling.
Studies have shown that response rates are substantially larger in areas that require more work. Sellers will only pursue the prospect of selling their property for a low price if it is less painful than continuing to own the home.
Sellers will only pursue letting go for a low price if it is less painful than continuing to own.
Having identified a neighborhood, you might begin to strategically place your signs. By no means should you place signs everywhere.
Think about it from the perspective of a driver. Where are they most likely to see your signs? Busy intersections, highway ramps and main roads are all great candidates. I have captured great leads by placing signs in front of hardware stores and parking lots.
Get creative, but be sure that your signs are reaching their intended audience.
Try to place approximately 15 to 20 signs per designated area, but avoid clustering them in unsightly clumps. The last thing you want is for your signs to be an eyesore and become associated with a negative connotation.
These campaigns are more successful the longer the signs can stay up, so avoid annoying anyone. You should be safe if you separate each cluster by roughly one-quarter to a half of a mile. Again, mind city ordinances, as you do not want to violate regulations.
Tracking incoming leadsProvided you have done your job correctly and leads are starting to trickle in, it’s easy to become complacent. However, your marketing efforts are just getting underway. It is now up to you to track said leads to make sure the rest of the campaign runs smoothly.
Understanding which signs are doing well will permit you to make wiser decisions and focus on the signs that achieve the highest results. With relative ease, you will determine where your money is best spent. Every marketing dollar counts, so it’s in your best interest to track which signs are outperforming others.
Ask every caller where they saw your respective signs; it takes no more than a few seconds and can make the difference between a good campaign and a great campaign.
Ask every caller where they heard about you to track which bandit signs are effective.
Also, keep track of what type of lead the caller falls into. If your signs are generating a great deal of short-sale leads, maybe it’s time to focus your attention on that niche. Either way you look at it, there is no foreseeable way to run a bandit sign campaign unless you are tracking your results.
Bandit signs are the backbone of any well-devised direct response marketing strategy. They have the potential to increase your company’s exposure exponentially, with relative ease might I add. Their real power lies in their self-sustainability.
Done correctly, a bandit sign campaign is perfectly capable of generating leads in your absence. With the right lead intake system and properly placed signs, it is conceivable to expect leads to come in when you aren’t even investing time on this particular strategy.
Bandit signs are the backbone of any well-devised direct response marketing strategy.