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Real Estate Marketing: Tips for Targeting Just Listed and Just Sold Postcards

You're ready to ramp up your marketing, but how do you figure out who to mail to?

Careful demographic selection is the most useful tool for creating a successful targeted direct mail campaign. While there is no magical "I'm looking to buy a house" or "I'm ready to sell my home" list, a little bit of critical thought will help you tease out the right clues to help you refine your list and get more out of your marketing dollars.

Real Estate Marketing: Choosing Demographics for Just Listed Postcards

A direct mail company such as allows you to choose a marketing list according to numerous demographic criteria. For a Just Listed postcard, we have found the following demographics to be the most helpful:

Marketing Resources for Real Estate Professionals has long specialized in printing and direct mail services for the real estate industry. We have helped thousands and thousands of real estate agents get their marketing efforts off the ground with:

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Income Range: You want to select income ranges that are both below and above the income you believe can afford the house you have listed. Remember, buying a home is often tied closely to a change in financial circumstances -- a promotion can very quickly put a family in the market for a new, larger home!

Length of Residence: How is this helpful? Using Length of Residence will help you pinpoint those people who may be on the move (and weed out those who probably are not). On average, a family moves every 5 years. Someone who bought a house only 1-2 years ago is unlikely to be in the market for a new one already. Conversely, long-time residents may be ready to down-size their living space as kids head off to college or as it becomes time to cash in the equity in their current home.

Presence of Children: Are you selling a one bedroom condo in Manhattan or are you selling a 4 bedroom house in the suburbs? Being a real estate agent, you probably have an excellent sense if your listing is perfect for a growing family, or if it's better off as the ultimate bachelor pad! Market your listings the same way you would show homes to a client - only show people the homes that "fit" their family.

Homeowner/Renter: If you are selling a smaller, starter home, targeting the right renters can be an effective strategy - use your Just Listed postcard to show them that home ownership is possible. Try targeting renters in conjunction with another selection like Income Range or Presence of Children - these people are especially likely to make the jump to home ownership. On the other hand, if your listing is a magnificent mansion on the hill, go ahead and exclude renters altogether - the chances are extremely slim it will become their first home!

Geography: Obviously, you want to prospect in areas within your expertise. Many buyers love their neighborhood but are simply ready for an upgrade. It is also important to think about neighborhoods in relation to one another. For example, a family living in the suburbs is unlikely to relocate to the city center, but a growing family living in the city might be craving the better schools and bigger yards of the suburbs.

Here are some other common demographic criteria:

Age: Do you have a listing that seems perfect for a couple of "empty nesters?" Or, do you have a 6-bedroom behemoth? If so, don't waste your time and money marketing it to young couples or retirees!

Net Worth: This selection, of course, serves a similar purpose as Income Range, but can be especially useful for higher value homes.

Marital Status: We recommend you use this selection extremely sparingly. With the days of the "nuclear family" long-gone, you'll find single fathers housing their kids, successful couples who have simply never tied the knot, or for that matter married couples living in different cities altogether.

Dwelling Type: Try using this selection like you would Homeowner/Renter. Go searching for families who may be outgrowing their apartment, or for long-time residents in the same neighborhood as your listing who might be eager to settle down there permanently if the right home came along.

Real Estate Marketing: Choosing Demographics for Just Sold Postcards

When it comes to real estate marketing, Just Sold postcards are different beasts than Just Listed postcards. You are trying to convince past clients and new prospects to decide to sell their home.

Purchase a Targeted Mailing List offers both business and consumer Targeted Mailing Lists for only pennies per record. Create a basic geographic list, or select an advanced list using specific demographic criteria.

If you already have your own list, or have purchased one from another provider, you may also upload your own address lists in Excel (.xls), Comma-separated (.csv), Tab-delimited (.txt), or Database (.dbf or .sdf) format.

Income Range: Instead of going high and low above and below the value of a typical home in your market (as you did on the Just Listed postcards), you want to narrow the income brackets you choose, focusing on people who probably own homes you want to list and market. You want them to recognize something about their own home in the one you just sold. "Hey, these people have a 3 bedroom, 2 bath just like ours...and he sold it for how much? Wow!"

Length of Residence: This selection is even more important for Just Sold cards than it is for Just Listed cards. If, on average, a house is sold every five years, you are looking for prospects that are within a couple years of that five year mark. Less than that and prospects are scarcely unpacked from their last move and haven't yet seen enough appreciation to think about selling. At the other end of the spectrum, older couples who have been in the same home for 20+ years may very well have already made their last move.

Geography: A Just Listed postcard campaign will show local homeowners that you know their area well and that you have a strong track record selling homes there. Think of it as brand-building for real estate agents! It's also a well-known fact that homeowners are obsessed with how much the homes in their neighborhood are going for. It's not uncommon to put the "time to sell" bug in someone's ear even when he/she isn't actively thinking about moving.

Homeowner/Renter: Since the primary goal is to entice people to sell their home, in general, you won't want to target any renters with a Just Sold campaign.

While they may be useful in certain circumstances, don't get tied up with demographic criteria like Presence of Children. While these are vital to a successful Just Listed campaign, the number one question for someone reading a Just Sold postcard is "What is my home worth?"

Real Estate Marketing: Choosing Demographics for General Farming Postcards

General prospecting cards are an important part of a long-term real estate marketing plan and offer an excellent opportunity to experiment. Most real estate agents, over time, develop their own unique clientele, and a regular direct mail postcard campaign will help you learn more about the homeowners and home buyers in your area with each new client or contact. Try marketing just to women, or only to multi-family dwellings, or only to households with children. Many printing and direct mail services like allow you to order as few as 100 postcards, making it easy and affordable to test out different demographics and different messages.

Of course, the key to finding out what is working for you is to keep track of which postcard mailings are going to which demographic group and to be able to trace new clients back to the marketing piece they received.

The easiest way to do this is to put a department number behind your address. For example, if your street address is 4452 Highland Road, Suite 100, make it 4452 Highland Road, Suite 100, Dept. A1 for a mailing to your first demographic group, 4452 Highland Road, Suite 100, Dept. B1 for your second group, and so on. When someone calls, ask them if they received your postcard and what department number is on the return address -- people will give you this information willingly in most cases. It's not a perfect tracking method, but it will give you a general sense of which demographic groups are responding to your cards.

An Important Rule of Thumb: Don't Get Carried Away

Now that you have all sorts of ideas for creating perfectly targeted mailing lists, it's important to remember to not get carried away. Experiment with 2 or 3 demographic criteria until you have a list that strikes the sweet spot between demographic targeting and geographic proximity. While there may be exceptions, if you use more than four categories, you will find you are narrowing your search too much and may have too few people in your specific geographic area.