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Thread: Direct Mail

  1. #1
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    Default Direct Mail

    Anyone ever had success with direct mail? For example sending out postcards etc... I understand someone is going to ask if its to agents or buyers, so in a preemptive response to that..., I say it doesn't matter which. I just looking for overall results of the campaign.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Direct Mail

    We tried it once, about seven years ago. Bought a single-use list of about 1,000 names (chosen for demographics relating to income and location) and sent out a full-color postcard. Got zilch in return; not a single phone call. No bump on our web traffic. Never tried it again.

    Welmoed Sisson
    Inspections by Bob, LLC, Boyds, MD
    "Given sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine."

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    My results were good
    Appointments booked about 5-10 %

    Target the mail
    2-3 days later make a follow up call for appointment

    Mail alone will not get you any results
    you must do a follow up phone call
    The only purpose of the follow up call is to set an appointment
    do not try to sell (yourself) on the phone
    With an appointment you have a higher chance to get a job
    net jobs about 3% of total mailed
    this is considered good for direct mail
    takes a lot of time and work

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Direct Mail

    "Target the mail"

    And how do you do that? I see our clientele as not knowing they need us, until they need us. And once they need us, a direct mail piece isn't going to magically appear in their hand. Unless you can get a list of self-identified "we're house-hunting" people, I don't see how direct mail will be effective.

    It's very hard to market to someone who doesn't know they need your services!

    We don't market to realtors, so that might explain why we didn't have success. But I'd be interested in how other inspectors manage to target their advertising.

    Welmoed Sisson
    Inspections by Bob, LLC, Boyds, MD
    "Given sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine."

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Quote Originally Posted by Marc M View Post
    Anyone ever had success with direct mail? For example sending out postcards etc... I understand someone is going to ask if its to agents or buyers, so in a preemptive response to that..., I say it doesn't matter which. I just looking for overall results of the campaign.
    I've been direct mailing to new home owners for over 10 years.
    It's a numbers game and is costly. [my cost with postage is apx .80 per flyer] During the good times I would get 30-35 new home inspections per month for every 12-1500 flyers.
    These days I'm lucky if there are 3-400 new homes built per month in my area.

    The plus side is I now have 5000 plus satified customers that refer me to their friends/ family or realtor, or call me directly when buying their next home.

    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
    www.inspectaz.com

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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    With the "no call list" being in existence you stand a (good) chance of being fined. Personally I make it an effort/quest to nail anyone that makes a marketing call.
    It is a little funny when I ask if the call is a marketing call and followed by do you understand the no call list law. I then go on to report the phone number and vendor .

    A mailing with a follow up call have to be requested by the person. You can not just randomly call anyone to market to them even to just see if they received your mailing.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Thanks for the info...much appreciated.

    The MAZZA INSPECTION GROUP
    www.mazzainspections.com
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Direct marketing to newly weds would need to be repetitious so that your your piece would be there then they were ready to buy. So you would have to be following them for maybe three years with multiple mailings per year to be there at just the right moment. Oh, and to go against their agents recommendation.

    Coming up with a system that worked would be a cash cow to the developer.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Tried this once...sent 500 postcard advertisements to home sellers (that I presumed would also be home buyers).

    Received 0 responses...never mailed anything again.

    Matt Kiefer, Columbus Advanced Inspections
    Home Inspection Columbus Ohio
    Radon Testing Columbus Ohio

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Instead of Direct mail, market to the homes for sale in your area. Most people who are selling are buying a home within 10 miles on average I've heard.

    Personally, that is all I do. I stay out of the Real Estate offices.

    Rick Hurst


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    Instead of Direct mail, market to the homes for sale in your area. Most people who are selling are buying a home within 10 miles on average I've heard.

    Personally, that is all I do. I stay out of the Real Estate offices.

    Rick Hurst
    Almost fell out of my set laughing... You obviously didn't see that I am in California.
    Most people here are Shorts or Foreclosures. You my friend, live in a great state that doesn't appear to have been badly affected by the economy. (from what my brothers tell me)

    The MAZZA INSPECTION GROUP
    www.mazzainspections.com
    Level III Thermo-picture-taker-er...er

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    The web is still the best investment a HI can make. Most buyers will surf the web before they call a Realtor. If you have a rich website with lots of do's and don't they may use you.

    The only other target mailing I would do would be toward Realtors but frankly thats a long shot. Most offices have a recycle barrel next to the mailboxes and I have watch Realtor shovel the mail into the barrel. If it a photocopied sheet on bright paper it usually flies into the barrel. Color newsletter on nice paper gets a long glance. If its something interesting it may make it back to the desk and go into the pile.

    Mailing out to the unwashed masses not worth the money. Better to hire unemployed guy with a sandwhich board to stand in front of the busiest Realtor office and attract attention.

    //Rick

    Rick Bunzel
    WWW.PacCrestInspections.com
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Last July, I spent a pile of time compiling the email addresses of every agent that had a client for whom I had done an inspection. It took hours. I had not heard from some in years. Many were out of the business. A few were dead.

    Rather than doing some kind of formal newsletter, I just email out any interesting info that I run across regarding the real estate biz. Some weeks, I may email 3 things, and other weeks nothing. I only email stuff that interests me and I think that they will find interesting. While I think there is validity to the argument that just getting your name in front of them is worth something, I think it is even better if you have something that they may actually want to read. Something I often do, is summarize long articles from the real estate biz into the Reader's Digest version, that agents can read in a minute or two to get the meaty parts quickly. I rarely send out anything about inspections or the inspection business.

    For instance, last week I sent out a step by step instruction on how to certify a condo complex for HUD/FHA eligibility. Some lender had sent it to me and I repackaged it with my name and emailed it out. I got six responses from that one. Getting any response is great and six is fantastic.

    In a nutshell, by the end of September, I had raised my monthly inspection average by about 10 inspections. Usually, my business slows in September. But I had the best fall and winter that I had had in years. (Of course, houses were selling better too) I had one agent call me to ask me to put her on my email list. Some agents in her office had told her that I send out great stuff. I had another agent, tell me that she didn't remember me but my emails were working and she had a client that needed an inspection. Several agents have told me that they use me as a filter for all the junk that they receive. (I have been doing this long enough, that I am on a lot of email lists from lenders, title companies, and other real estate sources)

    And for what it's worth, I think if you have some interesting personal info to put out once in a while, you can really stick your name in their mind. For me, it came when one of our sheep rejected her lamb. My wife brought the little bummer into the house and raised it for two months in the house. I sent out a "fun" email about the lamb, Jelly Bean, complete with photos of her on the furniture wearing her diaper and another one of me feeding her a bottle. I got nearly fifty responses from that. Agents still ask me all the time how Jelly Bean is doing.

    And email costs me nothing but a little time. So, there is a marketing idea, that seems to be working for me and costing me very little.


  14. #14
    John Remark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Lon,

    That is by far the best marketing advice for a start up business I have seen in a while. The only addition I could think of is to compile all those wonderful articles and place them in a blog/facebook-- for comment and appreciation... Just a thought.

    Thanks for the tip, I will pass it on to my customers!!!


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    It worked for me for Warranty inspections. Bought a mailing list from a local welcome wagon type magainze. Their target market was homes $300k or greater. I bought the list and then removed all the addresses that were person to person. I only wanted Builder to Person. If it was an LLC, Inc, Co. etc, I presumed it was a builder vs. individual.

    Mailed them a letter at 10.5-11 months. Said get a home warranty inspection and give to builder before warranty ends to have builder fix everything. I got about 5% return. Ran about .80-$1 per letter for postage, printing, address cost. Before Oct 08 I was doing 4-5 warranty inspections a week. New clean homes with dry crawlspaces. Get one or two on a street and pretty soon I was doing most of the homes on the street for new subdivisions. People next door would call about scheduling an appt, no questions about price or service. Just when could then get on my schedule.

    Last fall I stopped because the number of inspections was break even on the cost of mailing. Not enough homes being built to make it worth while. In another year or two when the market is stronger, should be worth it again.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  16. #16
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Not personally. An H.I. friend and trainer sent out 11 month notices with adequate success. Probably not much of an opportunity in today's market, but it worked when we used to build new homes


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Brand new start-up here. Sent out 1000 warranty cards last month. Got 1 inspection so far. Targeted $150k+ home that closed 10.5 months prior. Thinking we need to focus in on $300K+

    Wade Hancock
    Hancock Consulting & Inspections, PLLC
    www.hancockinspections.com

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Quote Originally Posted by Wade Hancock View Post
    Brand new start-up here. Sent out 1000 warranty cards last month. Got 1 inspection so far. Targeted $150k+ home that closed 10.5 months prior. Thinking we need to focus in on $300K+
    The important thing to do is find out what the other inspectors are doing ,and do or offer something they don't.
    You have to convince them you are the guy to do their inspection, if the other guy is offering a $20.00 off new home discount offer $25.00 off.
    I found the least expensive offer is , offering a free re-inspection, [do it when your in the neighbor hood] only 2-3 out of 10 will call you, 70% will state thats why they used you.


    I use 2 -9X11 pages tri folded and tell them everything I do up front, with a price list, a lot of defect photos, an example of what their report will look like [ due to statements from customers it took me 8 months of several major changes before I ordered a large number of flyers ] As a result when they call very few ask me any questions, just say they want to order the inspection and how soon can I do it.
    I found it's important to make a personnal connection with them to get them to call me. I include a photo and a personnal note stating I remove my shoes, will respect their privacy, [feed their dog and pet their cat etc. I've never tried cards alone.

    The biggest hurdle you will face is convincing them they DO need an inspection after the builder told them , trust me, you Don't need a private inspector.
    As far as $150, or $300,000 homes. I don't know the pricing , over all my inspections are pretty well split between small and large homes .

    I believe it was mentioned on another post.
    Focus on larger sub-divisions, and or 50 plus commuinties , referals will out number new flyer calls a lot quicker.

    I recall one local inspector stating he had success going to local homeowner meetings, or block parties and give a little speach and provide goodies and
    snacks.

    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
    www.inspectaz.com

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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    good info there. I really appreciate you taking the time to give me some good ideas. I'm fighting hard to get it off the ground and doing every marketing strategy I can think of.

    Most of the HI's in my area get their clients from agent referrals. I set up Hancock to be an alternative. I do not solicit referrals from agents. So, i've got an uphill climb. But, I am hoping it'll pay off in the long run.

    thanks again for the advice.
    (sorry to hijack the thread for a minute)

    Wade Hancock
    Hancock Consulting & Inspections, PLLC
    www.hancockinspections.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Quote Originally Posted by Wade Hancock View Post
    good info there. I really appreciate you taking the time to give me some good ideas. I'm fighting hard to get it off the ground and doing every marketing strategy I can think of.

    Most of the HI's in my area get their clients from agent referrals. I set up Hancock to be an alternative. I do not solicit referrals from agents. So, i've got an uphill climb. But, I am hoping it'll pay off in the long run.

    thanks again for the advice.
    (sorry to hijack the thread for a minute)
    Years ago I was doing extensive direct mailing when I was doing contracting work. It worked well and seems expensive until you get it going. I work in manufactured housing. I would send post cards to everyone in the park. Flyers or post cards were sent every month for years. As stated before a good response is 3%. The other trick is saving on postage I went down and got a "bulk rate" permit for the P.O.
    As far as general HI work I haven't tried it. Have tried bulk emailing to thousands of realtors. In my area there are probably 50,000 agents or more (So.Cal.) after months received maybe 3 calls and one closed inspection.

    Expert Mobile & Manufactured Home Inspections O.C. & San Diego Co.


  21. #21

    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Quote Originally Posted by Wade Hancock View Post
    Most of the HI's in my area get their clients from agent referrals. I set up Hancock to be an alternative. I do not solicit referrals from agents. So, i've got an uphill climb. But, I am hoping it'll pay off in the long run.
    If you're not marketing to realtors, you want to join the Independent Home Inspectors of North America (IHINA). We get quite a few calls from being listed on their site.

    Independent Home Inspectors of North America

    Welmoed Sisson
    Inspections by Bob, LLC, Boyds, MD
    "Given sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine."

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Quote Originally Posted by Wade Hancock View Post
    I'm fighting hard to get it off the ground and doing every marketing strategy I can think of.

    Most of the HI's in my area get their clients from agent referrals. I set up Hancock to be an alternative. I do not solicit referrals from agents. So, i've got an uphill climb. But, I am hoping it'll pay off in the long run.
    )
    It takes a lot of time and $s regardles of which marketing route you go.

    I agree with not marketing to realtors, BUT, almost every inspection you do can be considered marketing to realtors. You just need to find the realtors that want an honest, professional, and informative inspection .
    3 out of the 10-15 realtors that now refer me on a regular basis found me by having me do their new home, the other ones by doing a new or resale home for one of their clients.

    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
    www.inspectaz.com

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Harris View Post
    It takes a lot of time and $s regardles of which marketing route you go.

    I agree with not marketing to realtors, BUT, almost every inspection you do can be considered marketing to realtors. You just need to find the realtors that want an honest, professional, and informative inspection .
    .
    I agree with this, for sure. I'm not opposed to agents referring clients my way. I just won't be soliciting referrals from them. There will never be a conflict of interest that way. Perception is a funny thing, sometimes.

    Patience is my biggest hurdle right now.

    Wade Hancock
    Hancock Consulting & Inspections, PLLC
    www.hancockinspections.com

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Quote Originally Posted by Welmoed Sisson View Post
    If you're not marketing to realtors, you want to join the Independent Home Inspectors of North America (IHINA). We get quite a few calls from being listed on their site.

    Independent Home Inspectors of North America
    Sent them an email.
    thanks for the link!

    Wade Hancock
    Hancock Consulting & Inspections, PLLC
    www.hancockinspections.com

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    All of my work comes from Realtors. I don't solicit it, it just happens. I can't imagine having to advertise or try to direct market. Seems like of a waste of money and time. There is nothing wrong with marketing to Realtors. Many Realtors want their client to get the best inspection they can get. Good Realtors know that they are first in line in the lawsuit if they recommended a home inspector and want the best for their client. All this stuff about agents "just wanting the deal to go through" is pretty much by the wayside in these litigious times.

    END GLOBAL WHINING

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin Thompson View Post
    All of my work comes from Realtors. I don't solicit it, it just happens. I can't imagine having to advertise or try to direct market. Seems like of a waste of money and time. There is nothing wrong with marketing to Realtors. Many Realtors want their client to get the best inspection they can get. Good Realtors know that they are first in line in the lawsuit if they recommended a home inspector and want the best for their client. All this stuff about agents "just wanting the deal to go through" is pretty much by the wayside in these litigious times.
    you bring up a valid point. Overall, I guess it boils down to my principals and value system. If an agent decides not to use me because I won't play ball, then I wouldn't want to be associated with them anyway. So I've lost nothing. On the other hand, any agent willing/wanting me to inspect a property will have their clients' best interest at heart.

    Now I need to rethink my marketing strategies!

    Wade Hancock
    Hancock Consulting & Inspections, PLLC
    www.hancockinspections.com

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    I'll throw my two cents in. 99% of my biz is referrals from realtors. Some of my realtors will pay my fee if their clients don't think an inspection is important. A few days ago, one of my realtors called me ahead of the inspection to tell me how "sensitive" the client was and please go easy with them. I said thanks for the heads up and went ahead and did my usual inspection with my normal commentary. The client was fine with it all, despite several significant problems. And the agent was pleased too, when the buyer thanked him for referring such a good inspector.

    Over the years, I have had an agent here and there label me as a "deal killer." One was going around her office complaining about me when she said something in front of one of my long time agents. He admonished her in front of several other agents. I got a call from one of those agents that afternoon for an inspection. She said she wanted a straight shooting inspector for her client.

    Luckily, people have short memories. One of my best agents is an agent who screamed at me 10 years ago and apparently has totally forgotten that incident.

    In my opinion you can't try to adjust your style for every single customer (or agent). While you are often changing how much you explain things to different customers because of their knowledge base, your tone and style should be consistent. I had an architect client yesterday, and I didn't have to explain things like I do for most young yuppie couples. But my matter-of-fact style was the same.

    I know a busy inspector who creates his own newsletter that he regularly emails to past customers and he claims that 90% of his business is from past customer referrals. But you have to have past customers to create that base and for most inspectors, getting realtors to refer you is how you will build that. Since last May, I have started building a similar base but I haven't started a regular program for emailing them yet. I never asked for email addresses until last May, so my past customer base is still fairly small.

    I am currently trying something new (for me). I am leaving an information sheet (printed on card stock) at occupied homes when I inspect them. It explains to the seller what I did and how I did it at their home. It closes with a request for their business if they want a similar thorough inspection on the home that they are buying. So far, no calls yet, but I have only been doing this for a few months and I have only had a handful of occupied homes. The majority of homes that I inspect are vacant.


  28. #28
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post

    In my opinion you can't try to adjust your style for every single customer (or agent).
    That's the reason so far I've stayed away from RE agents. But, understanding that some of them actually do want a quality job from an inspector is altering my perception a little.

    Got a meeting with my marketing firm on Tuesday to tweak my message a little.

    (Sorry for completely hijacking this thread)

    Wade Hancock
    Hancock Consulting & Inspections, PLLC
    www.hancockinspections.com

  29. #29
    Robert Pike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Direct Mail

    I have used "Send-Out Cards" and the follow-up after an inspection, birthday etc. is good PR and does show the clients that you care for more than just the inspection fee. There are several companies that do this now - it may be worth trying it out - but give it a year or so to see if its monies well spent.


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