Episode 88: [Just Ask] What is your Direct Mail Strategy?

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This is the answer to a Flipping Junkie Podcast #Just Ask question.  Erik Drentlaw asked what my exact direct mail strategy is.

Here’s the video podcast episode:

While I think it’s true that you need to become an expert at one thing before moving on to another is a great strategy, with highly specific things like online marketing, it’s best to let the experts take over. If you need to focus on becoming the expert at direct mail, do it! But allow the people who are already experts at SEO and PPC to manage that side for you. That way, you’re getting the benefit of both online and off-line marketing without wasting your time trying to learn strategies for both.



Erik, I see that you mentioned you have a competitor website but would have liked to switch. You still can! In fact, we have a team of professional PPC and SEO experts here who would gladly manage your online marketing so that you can focus on direct mail. That way, your business will benefit from marketing on two fronts. These guys manage my PPC marketing, so I can promise you they’re great.

As far direct mail goes, we’ve done something like $80k+ on direct mail in the last 12 months. I have absolutely no problem sharing my direct mail strategies. There seems to be some level of secrecy when it comes to asking about direct mail strategies, as if some investors are doing things that no one else would think about. The truth is, direct mail strategies doesn’t vary that much.

What is rare is people actually doing it and sticking to it. It’s difficult to keep it up, but as long as you do it and stay consistent, it’ll pay off in the end. Just stick to what’s being taught, and actually do it.

The biggest list we mail to is the high equity list. This is key. Mail to owner-occupied, and absentee-owner high equity direct mail list, targeting ages 45+ of the household. That demographic has been the highest converting as far as direct mail is concerned.

The next question becomes, “Where do you get that list?” You can get this information from ListSource.com, you can get your rates down by calling and asking. Definitely do that. You go into the site, and specify the types of properties you’re looking for in your target area. Look in your farm area, the spot where you expect most of your leads to come from. Choose the property value next. Don’t go high-end properties; you should limit the appraised value to just above medium home price to avoid the crazy expensive ones. After that, you target equity.

There are two ways to do equity targeting:

1. Mortgage Amount

2. Equity percentage.

Stick with equity percentage. We tend to go with 50% equity because you want the seller to have enough equity to actually be able to sell to you instead of needing to go through a 3rd party. This helps you to weed out any bad leads before you start pooling.

What it takes in direct mail is money. The people who are succeeding are spending lots of money. Just from this list that we have, and sending direct mail, we’ve got about 12 leads this year from direct mail. To make direct mail a success, you need to get a large enough number of calls to justify the amount you’re spending on it.

We’re sending out roughly 10k – 20k postcards a month, spending about $5k per deal (which is a little more than I would like to be spending). But we want the deal volume, so we’re spending it to get it.

The key to success with direct mail is to keep your list decent enough, but not too big. If it’s too big, you’re going to not be able to mail enough because it’s going to be too expensive. As far as what to put on your postcard, you need to include:

  • A picture of you / a house
  • The BBB logo
  • Your website URL
  • Your business name and information

Branding is super important, and not enough investors know about it. You need to make sure your postcard is unique to your business and stands out to your motivated sellers. The reality is, you’re not the only one in your market mailing, so you’re probably not the only piece of mail that they get. Avoid looking like spam by making your postcards individualized.

On that same note, you need to have a large pool to mail to. Don’t just be sending out 200 letters a month and wonder why you haven’t heard anything. The minimum you should be mailing is 1,000/month, but even that’s a little low depending on your city and market size.

It’s very easy to make your own postcards. That helps your business stand out from all of the others that are just using templates. You don’t need fancy software, goto Canva.com and design your own for free. What we do to get them mailed out is we go to a local print and mail house, tell them how many we want, and negotiate prices from there. As long as you get it out and in front of people, you’ll be in the clear. Make sure you give them variable printing so that each postcard is individualized so that your leads feel like you mailed personally to them.

We mail roughly 45 days apart to the different lists. Remember, you have to spend money to make money. Direct mail is an investment, just like everything else. Work on your acquisitions skills to get them under contract. My friend, John Martinez, has a lot of sales training on that sort of thing. Check out his stuff in the links.


Don’t neglect online leads, either. If you want, reach out to us at Sales@LeadPropeller.com so that you can let our experts manage it for you. Or, call (210) 999 5187. Our pros here would be more than happy to help manage your PPC to get you quality leads online.

If you have a question that you want answered, post it in the group with the hashtag #JustAsk, and tag me @DannyJohnson. I’ll make a podcast episode to answer your question for you!

Thank you again for the question, Erik. Hope this helped!



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Episode Transcription

Hello everybody. Welcome back to The Flipping Junkie Podcast. This is a just ask podcast episode nd what happened here was Eric joined the Flip Pilot Facebook group, which I recommend that you do a flippilot.com and get an invitation to that private group or just search for flip pilot on Facebook and look for that group and ask for an invite, quickest way to get in obviously to go to flippilot.com to get that invite so you can get in right away. And so Eric went to the flip pilot group and he typed in a message there and he put a hashtag just ask and then tagged me Danny Johnson to make sure I see that really quickly. He was asking me about direct mail. He was telling me he had been told, not sure who told him, but that he should –between direct mail or online, he should focus on one, get really good at it and move into the other one. While usually I do say that focusing on one thing and becoming the expert at it and then expanding into other things is the way to go, I didn’t want to tell him/Eric. Well, it’s like I’m speaking to you I guess because I mean answering your question.

So Eric what I would do is with online you can have managed services do things so that they’re the expert they’re doing it for you and so you can do that same time up your lead and deal stuff. You did say that you were with a competitor for the websites, it’s not too late. You can switch from the dark side, come over to Lead Propeller and we’ve got pay-per-click services. A lot of people don’t even know that, but we do pay-per-click the same managed in-house. They’re managing my pay-per-click account, would manage your pay-per-click account already also. And y you get the benefit of having run all those pay-per-click accounts and we know how to do it. So it’s in-office and so I advice you do that. You can reach out to us for that.

But to answer your question what direct mail, we do do a lot of direct mail. I think over the last 12 months something like $80,000+ on direct mail may be even closer to $100,000. The main one that we do, and before we even get into that though, you had asked the question “Can you share your exact direct mail strategies? I’m not sure if that’s proprietary or not.” And what I want to say about that is I have no problem with sharing with you what we do exactly. I think that comes from people thinking that there are some special things that people do that they’re not sharing and really what we do is known. It’s something that so many other investors do. It’s nothing special. What is rare I think is just that people are actually doing it, so they hear it and they think, “Well, okay it makes kind of sense.” But what they’re not doing it. They don’t do it. It’s rare to see it and I know that that’s the case because I’ve got a bunch of properties that we own that we get direct mail from, from other investors and it’s ridiculous. Nobody is consistent okay and so that’s the key.

Let me tell you first what we do, what we mail to, and then the secret to what makes this work and what other investors just aren’t doing even though it’s taught all the time. I want to focus in on it because it’s where people are failing with.

So our main list that we’re mailing to, the biggest one absolutely biggest one, is the high equity mailing list. And so, we do the owner occupied and absentee owner high equity direct mail list. And so, we target ages 45 and older of the household, household age 45 years old and older, not of the house, but the people living in the house, the demographics. And part of that question was, “Where do you get this list?” So this list we get from listsource.com and with ListSource, you can get rates down by calling them and just asking them for a cheaper rate. Sometimes you can get a discounted rate just from calling and doing that, so I advise doing that. But you basically go into list source and you specify the target area you want to target and I would target the types of properties that are in your farm areas, so your main investment area. So if you’re doing a fix and flip you’re going to sell retail then you want to make sure that you’re getting those areas where you can sell retail, you’re not getting the war zone or near war zone where it’s hard to sell retail. You want to focus on those areas, so either do it by zip code or do it by selecting on a map your areas and then you want to choose your property value because a lot of times you want to limit the value of the property. So I don’t like doing really high-end property, so I limit our appraised value for the properties in the list to just above median home price and that’s where we kind of limit that, so when I get all these ones that up million dollar homes and stuff like that. And then we go into demographics and ListSource and then choose for the age, so household age 45 or older and then we go into equity.

So there’s two ways to do the equity one I think there’s the mortgage amount or something like that and then under property I think there’s equity percentage and I would do the equity percentage. That’s the one that we do and then just choose one that makes sense and I’m pretty sure that we go with, I think it’s 50% equity is what we do to target ours to make sure that there’s 50% equity. You don’t want to be around people that can’t sell to you because they don’t have enough equity to be able to sell to you. They have to come to the table with too much money. I mean that happens, but we want the ones that are going to be a little bit better, so when the calls come in they’re not underwater especially if you see what it takes to have success in direct mail, it costs money and the people having a lot of success with direct mail do so because they’re spending money. Like I said, we’ve spent almost maybe about $100,000 I think this year so far and just from the high equity list is 12 deals from last I checked, so that’s about one a month from that list and we’re mailing roughly 10 to 20,000 postcards per month and it takes that for the success. You’ve got to get a large number of calls and then have leads. We’ve been transitioning and moving people and then training them for acquisitions. I think that number’s going to improve. We could probably get more out of the same amount of mailings, but I think that’s working out to something $5,000 a deal, which is a little bit high, higher than I probably want, but we want that deal volume so we’re spending it and we’re doing it. Obviously when you make $25,000 on a deal, $30,000 on a flip it’s absolutely worth it and that’s why we do it, but that’s having success with direct mail.

The key to having that access though is not getting such a huge list that you’re mailing once or twice because that’s all you can afford. Do not do that. You need a list that’s a decent enough size, several thousand properties at least, and you need to mail them over and over and over again. You need to mail them with pieces that stand apart from what else everyone else is mailing, so they know when they receive that one every time it’s you. This has to do with having your website on there, having Better Business Bureau logo on it. But having something stands out, a picture of you maybe, not too many pictures. I think that comes across to junk mail I think when you have too many pictures, but something like realtors do this well I think where they have their picture on there. It’s a way of branding and with direct mail when you’re mailing multiple pieces like that, I think that’s super important and not enough people focus on it because like I was saying before, we get direct mail from a lot of other investors and it’s amazing to me because I can’t tell who’s sending it to me because it looks the same.

That’s the problem with using these national “save you time” kind of things that will do all the mailings for you do these letters and they’re tested and they’re proven to work. They were proven to work years ago when not so many people were using them, so I’d be real careful with that because when I get these letters all the time, I’m like, “Dude this is just like the ten other ones I received.” If this person, this one person from this one letter mails me this again over the next five months I don’t know if it’s him or the other 10 people mailing me the same freaking letter and all they had different was their name and number on the letter. Do something a little bit different do and we do strictly postcards right now just because we’re doing volume. If you do letters, I would try letters that are sort of more personal like “My wife and I buy houses. We fix them up and sell them to the family that would love them for years to come. We’re looking for a property in your area to flip. We like to buying houses in that area, if you would be interested in selling give us a call. We can make you a cash offer” or something like that and then the other one I would try this is a good split test is the business one, so it’s more from the business point of view or a business that buys houses, Better Business Bureau all kind of garbage and you try that and see which one works better gets more calls.

But when you split test those, I think one mailing is not enough for a split test on this kind of thing because with direct mail, the key is that not everybody is in the right place in the right time when they receive that first mailing from you, to be in a place where they are enough aware of their problem that they’re going to call you to get the solution, they’re going to call you to help them with the real estate problem. And that’s why mailing so many times over and over again to the same list is so important because you don’t know when that time is going to be for these people and more about what you say and in the postcard or the letter, it’s more about the timing of it. If they just received notice that they’re going to be foreclosed on next month or even within two weeks and then they get a postcard from you the next day, I think they will be more likely to call you than if they are just considering whether they’re going to be able to pay their next payment or not and it’s four months out from any problems. Mail consistently over and over again. Be persistent about it. I know somebody is going to ask, “Well, how many times?”

It’s many times as it takes. Keep mailing it. There are people out there that save mail until they tell you to stop mailing them. Just keep doing it. If you’re targeted where you want to buy such properties you want to buy and they have that equity why quit mailing them unless they tell you not do it if they tell you not to, but I think I’ve pretty much covered all of it.

So ListSource, we do postcards. You should try letters to if you’ve got a smaller list. Maybe letters would be a good one to test if you do a specialized list like code compliance, call the city or whatever and ask them if you can I think in San Antonio’s neighborhood services, but you can usually get the list of properties that have code compliance. If you call up there and they tell you, “No, we can’t give it to you” go up there in person and talk to somebody. And if they say, “Well, I don’t know” well, ask them to get a manager or somebody that can find out because a lot of times it’s the gatekeeper, the person that you talk to on the phone when you get there could tell you no, but the truth is it could be yes and you just have to talk to the right person so that’s a big one.

Doing probates, tax delinquents, all that kind of stuff, it’s a little more involved getting the list and mailing those. I like doing volume so we do this high equity one plus some of the other smaller list, but the majority of that direct mail is focused on this. If you want to try the tactic of becoming the best at something, focus on that. The high equity list gets start to get rolling. Know that it’s a numbers game. If you’re not getting enough calls to get a deal, which it could take you 15 calls or 15 leads from direct mail to get you a deal and you do a mailing and you get two calls, well you’ve got to keep doing that mailing because you’re need more than two calls usually to get a deal. I think knowing that helps because it’s a volume thing. We do as much as we do and spend as much as we spend because we want the volume and we know that it’s going to cost money to get there and that’s where people fail is either just mailing once a list that’s too big, they mail once maybe they’ll mail twice and give up. The whole sales principle is that it takes seven or eight touches for somebody to finally respond to your marketing, so knowing that you know if you send it once or twice to the same person, what are the chances of them actually calling you is pretty slim. So you’ve got to keep doing it and not give up on it. I know it seems like you’re throwing money into a black hole, but once you starting finding it successful, one deal can pay for how much, you know what I mean? You don’t have to do it and I don’t recommend doing it at the volume like we do from the get go okay. I’ve heard of other investors doing stuff like this, do not do it. You’d need to ramp it up. Pick your best areas where there’s a lot of rehabbing going on so you know that are a lot of properties in disrepair and focus on those, but have the list at least be something like a thousand pieces, don’t be mailing 200 pieces and then do that.

Okay, so I told you how to get list, ListSource, what list I told you that and okay services –
so the postcards like I mentioned my complaint with the national ones that make it easy for you, but you end up looking like everybody else I think it’s a problem, so we just designed our own. What it says is not so important. You could just say know we buy houses or sell your house for cash, get an offer in 24 hours, close in seven days or whatever works for you. It doesn’t matter as much. I mean as long as I know you grab their attention, you don’t have too much on there especially because a lot of the people getting this post would be a little bit older, so don’t have small print. Big print, don’t put too much on there. Make sure they know what you want them to do. Call right now any time of day or night or whatever, have your phone number really big. What we did was we found a local print shop, a local mail house, we just called around and we got pricing. We said we’re going to do about this much volume, I want to know if you can do it. what’s the price with variable printing so that you have like the address on each the postcards different. As you give them the list it’s got the different mailing addresses and what the subject property is and you want that individualized on the postcards and so variable printing. You ask for those things and then how much and if they can mail it because we did for a time there print at one place, go it pick it up and have it mailed in another place and now the place that we’re using I think is just doing all of it. So we get them the list, they do the mailing, we tell them when.

We’re mailing roughly 45 days apart for each hit on the same list. I that helps, in 15 minutes I talked about the direct mail strategy. But heed the advice though as far as it’s an investment. You’re going to have to spend money to make money and make sure you dialed in and when you get those calls working and motivated sellers that you have a really good chance of turning those into deals when you do get the calls, so work on your acquisition skills. As far as meeting with sellers and getting them under a contract and John Martinez, my friend, has a lot of sales training for that kind of thing so I’d recommend looking into him. Don’t be afraid to look into pay-per-click and we’ll get you over on the right side over on LeadPropeller and get you handling your pay-per-click and then you can let the experts handle that without becoming an expert. We’ll be glad to do that. Just reach out to us. You can you can email sales@leadpropeller.com. That’ll go to Josh and he can help you with talking through those services and you can also call them 210-999-5187 if you guys are interested in looking into our managed pay-per-click services. We’ll be happy to help you with that. It’s a great moneymaker deal, bringer inner.

So anyway everybody have a great day and if you’ve got a question that you like answered in the podcast, go to flippilot.com, get your invite into the group, the Flip Pilot group on Facebook, hashtag jusk ask tag Danny Johnson. You just start typing Danny Johnson, I think it’ll pull up my name and you select it if you’re in the group.

So that’s that and I’ll be glad to record an episode to answer your questions and Eric hope that answer to yours and I’m sure you’ll be getting more responses in the group too from other people, so that’s awesome. Everybody have a great week. Talk to you next time.

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