Real Estate Investing and Marketing – How to Screen Your Leads For Success

Regardless of whether you’re after short sales or ugly houses, making money in real estate investing begins with leads. Unless you’re just posting bandit signs and waiting for the phone to ring, you should have implemented some type of screening process to get the best possible leads landing on your desk (or calling on the phone).

The better you do at setting up your screening, the more time you’ll have, the less garbage calls you’ll field (which can be painful whether you’re doing it, or paying the bill to have it done), and the more you’ll only be working with potential deals – the dream of all real estate investors.

THE RULE: All leads are not equal, and all phone calls are not leads.

A successful marketing campaign is not one that generates a ton of phone calls. That’s actually just a ton of work. Work is different than business. You’ll find in your real estate investing that some marketing campaigns, like the yellow letter (yellow letters are explained below), will produce huge response rates, but also huge numbers of unqualified calls.

But, marketing in the real estate investing world isn’t only about response rates. We have a unique product which only appeals to a small percentage of sellers. We don’t want to talk to EVERY seller, just the right ones. The good news is that you can tweak the message of high response pieces like the yellow letter to provide exactly what we want…

OUR GOAL: To get as many non-deals to filter THEMSELVES out before we ever need to talk to them. Good marketing will allow people who don’t qualify to do the initial screening for you.

QUICK SIDENOTE TO NEWBIE INVESTORS: Don’t be afraid to lose leads… they’re only leads if they are willing AND able to do business with us. If, however, you want to take every last call to work on your skills talking to sellers… no problem… that’s perfectly OK… just plan on fixing your screening when you’re ready to focus on deals.

If you’re marketing to a demographic group (a bunch of people sharing some characteristic, like having expired listings or notices of default on their mortgages), you are starting the screening process by choosing what type of sellers (this works for buyers too) you want to market to.

From there, your marketing message (which can include the “piece” your sending, like a postcard, or the message you use on a recorded message or on your squeeze pages*) needs to include language to both further the prospect along if they qualify, and to allow the non-deals to disqualify and eliminate themselves.

(* Squeeze Pages are single page websites designed to screen, collect leads, and send them to you. They’re a cornerstone of real estate investing marketing – check out the resource box below for links to my Internet Marketing resources.)

Now, lets jump in to two real-life examples from my business, the post-it note and the yellow letter.

The “UGLY” Post-it Note

One of the things people know me for has been my prolific use of post-it notes. I didn’t invent the idea, but in the real estate investing world I’ve distributed more post-it notes than anybody, and I’ve tested the heck out of them..

The original post-it I used had a very effective, but generic message. It got us TONS of phone calls, and cost a mint for the call handling. Fortunately, the margins in real estate investing are high enough that it worked despite the “breakage” (a term for waste, in this case by having unqualified sellers calling).

There were deals for sure, but also a lot of sellers just looking to save a few bucks on Realtor commissions, or who had thought they had been specifically chosen, maybe because their house was so awesome and valuable (aren’t they all?).

I was specifically looking for houses in need of work to either rehab or flip to wholesale buyers. So I needed deep discounts and poorly maintained homes. Other callers would be wasting their time and mine. Real estate investing doesn’t pay by the hour, so this is less than ideal.

So here’s what I did. I added the following language to the post-it notes, creating what I call my “UGLY” Post-it:

P.S. If you want retail value, we’re not your guys. But, if you want someone to buy your house… (a list of benefits)… then we’re your guys. Contact us now… Can’t get much more to the point. If you want retail, don’t call us.

Why waste the time? Why deal with the uncomfortableness of telling them you want to pay 50 cents on the dollar or lease option their house subject to with no money down?

THE RESULT: It cut our calls in half, with no decrease in viable leads. This was huge, because I was paying a pretty high rate to a call center to process the leads… I only wanted to pay for actual leads, so this saved me a bunch, which means my Return On Investment (ROI) shot up. If you were taking the calls yourself, you just got a big chunk of your time back. Either way, a BIG win.

The Yellow Letter

The “yellow letter” is another top-performing marketing piece for real estate investing. The original yellow letter was created by investors John & Donna MacNeil, and later promoted by investing guru Ron LeGrand and others.

If you haven’t seen it, the yellow letter is a handwritten (or handwritten-looking) letter on yellow legal pad paper. It says something like “My wife Erin and I want to buy your house. Please call us at 555-1212.” If you haven’t seen it before, the yellow letter looks real enough to be creepy. And it does get a lot of calls… like:

* Upset people with bad tempers and foul mouths * Police calling on behalf of little old ladies * A random lead or two… and * Lots of people telling you that their house is NOT for sale

So, how to fix it? Easy… I just added the following to the end of the letter (before the signature and PS): If you don’t respond then I’ll assume your house is not for sale.

THE RESULT: Again, a HUGE drop off in calls, but not in leads. The yellow letter remains a top marketing tool for us, but now we don’t need to field the 70% of the calls who wanted to tell us that their house isn’t for sale.

If you want better efficiency with your time and you want to focus more on business than busy work, then start adding language to your marketing pieces to pre-screen the sellers who you are not going to be able to (or don’t want to) work with.

What Do Brand Touchpoints Mean in Real Estate Agent Marketing?

Recently, after talking to a group of professionals in the construction business, the local distributor of Tyvek handed my colleague his card. Among its many purposes, Tyvek is used to wrap buildings at construction sites. The card was itself made from Tyvek, which makes for a fun, tactile, brand-reinforcing experience. I don’t doubt that many conversations have started with, “wow – what’s that card made of?”

A business card is a specific example of a brand touchpoint, a place where your brand as a real estate agent and your target home buyers meet.

Experienced marketers often say “Everything Communicates.” That’s a broad concept, but brand touchpoints bring it down to reality. Everything, from your business card to your actual product or service, says something about your brand as a real estate agent – and it’s your job to know what it’s saying.

Effective marketers know that they have to be intentional about everything that they do. In other words, you have to decide what you want to known for before you brand yourself. A message is crafted about why you are the best choice for the home buyers you want to work with. The voice, personality, and look-and-feel have to be right. After that, you can express that message using all of the channels of communication available.

Those channels are your brand touchpoints. They can include advertising, marketing collateral materials, web site and stationery. Those are the obvious ones. The touchpoints you don’t think of, though, are the ones that are likely cause you problems. These are things like voicemail messages, phone manner (of everyone who answers the phone on your behalf) and the appearance of coworkers, car, or office.

To expand on this, you want to ensure that each of these touchpoints is actually building up the “know, like, and trust” factor with your ideal clients. If you want to be known for being extremely businesslike, then your voicemail should be very to-the-point and your dress more sophisticated. If you wish your brand to be more folksy, then your voicemail can include a more friendly or inspirational message, and your dress may be more casual.

The most important thing is consistency. You want each brand touchpoint to be reinforcing the same message. Don’t let hidden brand touchpoints ruin your real estate agent marketing. Remember that everything communicates. That abrupt voicemail message or dirty car could undo a lot of hard work.

Real Estate – Selling – The Long List of What to Include in Internet Marketing For Your Property

If you are selling real estate in any form then you need to know about internet marketing. Do not spend your time with marketing methods from the past. Do not deal with Realtors who are stuck using old marketing methods.

The marketing methods for today and tomorrow are on the internet. You need a web marketing strategy for any type of property you are trying to sell. If your Realtor doesn’t have one for your specific property, then you must get someone else to do it for you, or get a different Realtor.

Often I am asked what is included in when we do customized Total Web Marketing Strategies for real estate properties for sale.

Below is a sample list of the types of things we recommend you do for properties after creating a custom website apart from Realtor or FSBO websites.

Sample Custom Internet Marketing Plan

– Website Marketing

– Onpage Optimizing with Keywords

– Search Engine Optimization

– Search Engine Submissions (Over 200 search engines)

– Authority Sites Back Link Development

– Email Marketing Campaigns to Targeted Buyer Groups

– Automatic Followup System – Setup & Maintenance

– Custom Flyer Creation & Distribution

– Buyer Contact List Building

– Video Marketing of Your Property (20 online video sharing sites)

– Audio Marketing of Your Property (30 online audio sharing sites)

– Press Release Distributions

– Google Local Search Engines Setup & Optimization

– Creation and Promotion of a Listing on Google Search and Google Maps

– Local Internet Directory Submissions

– Blog Creation & Blog Postings

– Real Estate Forum Postings

– Social Account Creation

– Social Bookmarking Submissions

– Article Directory Submissions

– RSS Feed Submissions

– Content Management

– Website Content Writing

– Graphic Design

– Property Branding

– Online Promotions

– Pay Per Click Advertising Setup & Maintenance

– Podcast Production & Marketing

– Webpage Sales Copywriting

– Web Traffic Analytics Setup & Analysis to Determine Website Traffic Sources

– Ongoing Monitoring to Determine Most Effective Channels for Marketing Your Property

Tips on Marketing a Luxury Home

When thinking of luxury real estate you can expect to pay more than five hundred thousand dollars for a home. With the economic recession behind us, the market for luxury homes is booming once again. The market is now getting the benefit of the rising income levels of people along with their desire to own a lavish, grand residential space. It is just as easy to sell a luxury home as it is one that is affordable to those without a lavish income. The market will basically targets the individuals with high net worth that also has big cash reserves and is looking for high quality living and potential investment options. These luxury properties are usually found in an up-market locality where the residents can enjoy a lifestyle that is world-class and has ultra-modern amenities.

One thing to note is that the prices of a luxury home can be very volatile. At one time, they can be at their peak when the demand is at the highest point and then it can drop substantially where you have no buyers in the market for luxury real estate.

There are many different ways in which you can market a luxury home. One way that is very important is that you will need to advertise aggressively. You should use mediums of advertising like radio, the internet, newspapers, and television effectively to attract potential buyers. You can also use billboard and pamphlets as a means of advertising in order to draw the attention of potential buyers. In your advertisements, make sure that you highlight the specifications, layout of the home, the location, and the facilities to generate more curiosity.

You can also organize seminars and exhibitions where you can showcase the luxury properties that are available to the buyers. Ask the sales representatives to interact with them personally and be able to solve your buyer’s queries. Convince them how investing in the properties will be in the long term advantageous to them.

Make sure that you can assure your potential buyers that they will have legal clearance on the homes they are considering purchasing. No buyer wants to spend millions, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on a luxury home only to find that there is some form of legal trouble related to the property.

You can also hire a brand ambassador, who could be a celebrity that works in some of your commercials that is helping to promote the luxury properties you are trying to find a potential buyer for. Make sure you promote the luxury home throughout the world as a potential buyer can come from anywhere.

Real Estate Online Marketing Plan – Part 6 – How to Use a Free Follow-Up System to Get More Leads

You’ve learned that with email addresses captured from website visitors you can put in an automatic email follow-up system. You’ve learned that the majority of website visitors who give you emails and become part of this follow-up system will eventually become your customers.

Wow. It’s like a marketer’s dream come true. Actually, it IS a marketer’s dream come true.

Here’s why:

1. You don’t have to spend any time with an email follow-up system. Once it’s set up right, you forget about it and just answer phone calls from all the prospects calling you. (We can load in 52 emails in the system so every new visitor gets a different email from you every week for a year, automatically.)

2. It’s free. Again, once it’s set up, your emails are sent out without any cost whatsoever. Given the prices of stamps and stationery, this is important. Plus it frees up marketing budget dollars for other things that are effective.

3. It’s automatic. By this I mean: you can’t mess it up by not doing what you’re supposed to do.

OK, I know how it works: you’re supposed to make follow-up calls and mail follow-up letters, and send newsletters to your “list.” But it doesn’t always happen does it?

Why is it that we always seem to find a dozen other things to do when we’re supposed to be following up with prospects?

Well, don’t worry about it. Now you can have your follow-up machine do all the dirty-work for you. And it never makes excuses or finds something else to do instead of sending your newsletters and emails.

If you do only one thing with a website, capture visitor emails. If you do only one internet marketing activity, make it this: put in an automatic email follow-up system.

If you do it right you could be the laziest millionaire Realtor the world has ever seen.