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Listener Q&A: My Marketing Isn’t Working! | By: Multiple Speaker(s)

Listener Q&A: My Marketing Isn’t Working!
Dear Goddess;
My marketing just isn’t working. I ran an ad in a neighborhood paper for 6 weeks and only got one call. I sent out over 400 letters to people who inherited properties and got three calls—none of them good deals. I also sent out over 250 postcards to pre-foreclosures and got 3 calls, 2 of which were in total denial and the other, the bank wouldn’t consider a short sale. I don’t think I’m a bad writer and my pre-foreclosure postcard was one that another speaker sold me and said I would get a 5% response rate on. Are people in Florida just immune to marketing? Is it the time of year? I can’t afford to keep doing this if it isn’t going to work!
-JC, Pompano Beach FL
A: Marketing is like any other skill we learn in real estate—it has a surface level and a deeper level. It’s like bookkeeping—when we start out, we just want to know how to balance the checkbook, but soon we want more sophisticated results, like the ability to extract how much we spent this month on rehab, how much we spent on a particular PROPERTY on rehab, and how that compares to last year, and so on.
At the basic level, marketing is just a matter of letting people know that you’re interested in buying properties. At the deeper level, you learn to test and raise your response rates, design your messages to get response from a particular type of seller, and generally get better, more predictable results for less effort and money.
You are clearly at the surface level—you’re doing what you’ve seen other people do successfully without really understanding what makes them successful. In your particular case, the problem doesn’t seem to be that you don’t know what to do with a call once you get it (which I do see occasionally), but that you aren’t generating the calls.
Without actually examining your marketing plan, I can tell you that it’s not the location or the time of year, but rather one of the three pillars of marketing—you’re either using the wrong message, the wrong medium, or the wrong list.
In the case of the newspaper ad, it’s probably the wrong medium. I’ve had many, many students that have taken a successful major-paper ad and put it into a neighborhood paper because it was so much cheaper, only to find that the response rate was so low that it was actually more economical to pay the higher price for the main paper. When the same ad has different results in different media, you can almost bet that either the wrong people are reading the new media, or—and this is what’s going on here—there just aren't ENOUGH people reading it to generate a large response.
The problem with the pre-foreclosure postcard—assuming that the person you bought it from is telling the truth about his response rates AND that you did not change it in any way—is probably your list. The best pre-foreclosure message in the world isn’t going to work if you send it to people who are: 1) not in foreclosure or, 2) already past the date of the sheriff’s sale. If you’re BUYING your list, you should double check the names against public record to see if the people on it are actually in foreclosure at the time that you get the names. I’ve been sold lists that I swear were just generated out of the phone book instead of the public record, for all the response I got!
The estate letter problem could be the result of any of the three “pillars” being missing. Are you hand-addressing the envelope? If not, you’re not getting a response because your letters aren’t being opened—a media problem. Are you mailing to people who have definitively inherited a property recently, or just people who bought a property via an executor’s deed? If it’s the latter, you’re putting letters into the hands of a lot of people who didn’t inherit a property, but rather bought the property from someone who inherited it—and you have a list problem.
Most often, though, the problem with estate letters is a message problem. Are you trying to be very businesslike—i.e. “According to the public records of Broward County, Florida, you have inherited the property at 123 Easy Street…”? This is the wrong message and tone for an estate letter—remember, these people are hurting! “I’m so sorry for your loss, can I help by buying the property” is a better way to start.
In any case, I absolutely guarantee that anytime your marketing is not producing for you, it has to do with one of these 3 things. Remember: message, medium, list. Anytime you’re not getting at least a 3% response rate FROM YOUR 1ST MAILING, one of these can be improved!

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