5 Rules of Effective Postcard Marketing

Postcard marketing is a tried-and-true promotional method in the real estate business. Here are five things you can do to make your postcards stand out.

July 1, 2009

They may lack the dynamism of online social networks or the larger-than-life quality of roadside billboards, but postcards are a proven marketing tool for real estate pros. A big part of their appeal is that they can be produced and distributed fairly easily, at a relatively low cost, and you don’t have to be a marketing genius to develop them.

Often times, real estate pros believe that postcards take a long time to work, but that is simply untrue. Effective postcards work immediately and, over time, create an increased, steady flow of business.

In spite of their simplicity, though, postcard marketing isn’t foolproof. To ensure it generates a positive outcome, follow these five guidelines:

1. Measure the results.

You should measure immediate results, as well as results over time of your postcard campaign. Within days of receiving an effective postcard, some people will respond. You may get e-mails, registrations on your Web site, requests for information, or an offered service, depending on what action you request. You may simply get a personal acknowledgement. Best of all, you may get requests to discuss selling or buying.  

Each week and month, effective postcards can generate additional initial appointments. Each quarter and each year, they create additional listings and sales.

So every morning, take five minutes to record results, initial appointments, listings, and sales—noting the sources of each. Notice what postcard and what specific part of the postcard generated the results. Then, repeat postcard elements that generate the best responses; eliminate the elements that don’t.

Also, measure return on your investment. Effective postcard campaigns return a minimum of four times the cost. More often, the return is eight to 12 times the cost.

2. Design your postcard for results.

Effective postcards are designed with five elements:

  1. The practitioner’s picture on both sides
  2. Pictures of homes for sale and/or sold
  3. Branding created with consistency of color, layout, design, and fonts
  4. A message specific to the targeted market
  5. Calls to action.

3. Maintain consistency in frequency and branding.

Effective postcard frequency is nine to 12 times annually to your highest-value market, and four to 12 times annually to other targeted markets. The goal of any marketing campaign is to create top-of-mind awareness. That means when the targeted market thinks of real estate, your name should come to mind. And when your name comes to mind, the targeted market associates it with a successful real estate experience.

4. Target high-value markets.

A market is simply a group of people that have something in common. High-value markets are the ones that will bring the largest return on effort and investment. You want to send your postcards to the groups of people most likely to generate the results.

Here is a hierarchy of high-value markets:

  1. Your sphere of influence, including past clients
  2. The neighborhood where you live and/or work
  3. Other geographic or demographic markets that you have a high level of name or face recognition

Just-listed and just-sold campaigns violate this rule. The returns on these campaigns bring much higher returns when they are sent repeatedly to the same markets, even though the just-listed or -sold property is not in the immediate area.

5. Remember WIIFT.

As you put together any postcard marketing campaign, consider the mindset of your audience. The most important question is: What’s in it for them (WIIFT)? What is going through the minds of people in your target market? Are they curious about what is happening to property values? Are they wondering whether to sell or buy? Are they concerned about how local layoffs and unemployment are affecting their neighborhood? Do they wonder if the foreclosures that dominate the news impact their property value? Do they completely trust that you’ll do the best job serving their needs and bring them the best value for their home?

At first, many real estate pros don’t believe they can create a relevant or effective message, especially when it comes to selling themselves. But most practitioners can develop terrific messages if they apply themselves. They should get some help from their sphere of influence to do this. After a few conversations with colleagues, clients, and friends, the right message and verbiage will become apparent.

Rich Levin is a national real estate speaker and sales coach. His company, Rich Levin's Success Corps Inc., Rochester, N.Y., takes a "whole business approach" to coaching, focusing not only on essential sales skills such as presenting and prospecting, but also quality of life and personal finance. Contact Levin at 585-244-2700 or rich@richlevin.com.