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 expresscopy.com 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:
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
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.
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
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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 expresscopy.com 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.