10 Direct Mail Myths Estate Agents Believe…and 10 Surprising Truths you’ll want to know

10 Direct mail myths

A question for you: if you woke up tomorrow and your biggest challenge was solved, what would be different for you?

  1. More quality valuation invitations?
  2. Higher fees without pushback?
  3. Less competition for the best homes?

Direct mail is the miracle worker that can grant you all three of these wishes.

When we talk to independent agents about direct mail, they often think we mean leaflets or postcards.

But we don’t.

We’re talking letters. Long, signed, enveloped, hand-addressed and stamped letters.

Most independent agents don’t use direct mail as a consistent part of their marketing efforts. When we ask them why not, they give us a variety of different reasons.

We’re ready to debunk these myths here, so if you don’t currently use direct mail to generate new business, get ready to have your mind changed…..

Myth #1: It’s outdated

The argument: it’s an old-fashioned method in a digital age.

The reality: it’s more relevant now than it’s ever been. We’re bombarded with digital messages every hour of every day. Where direct mail was once ubiquitous, it’s now more unusual. You can stand out on the doormat where you have no chance in the inbox.

Myth #2: It’s irrelevant

The argument: it’s not connected with or relevant to the homeowner, and therefore will just be ignored.

The reality: if someone has their home on the market, a helpful, informative letter that speaks to their current situation is highly relevant to them. But what about those homes that aren’t on the market? How can you make sure a letter is relevant to these people? Our answer: by creating a market report – not a dry list of figures and statistics, but an expert interpretation of the current market conditions in an engaging way.

Myth #3: It’s unwanted

The argument: people don’t like getting unsolicited direct mail.

The reality: it depends. When someone first puts their home on the market, you may assume they’re happy with their choice of agent, their communication, their photographs, written description and brochure. But what if they aren’t? What if almost immediately they begin to regret their choice of agent? On the other hand, we can’t assume that just because someone has had their home on the market and unsold for many months, that they are unhappy about their situation. In fact, we can’t assume anything. That’s why we send a letter regardless, to make sure that if someone is dissatisfied, disappointed or frustrated, it’s our agency who will get the phone call, and not one of our competitors. Because when someone is ready to take action, a well-timed letter can be the trigger they need to change their situation, and will be welcomed. 

Myth #4: It’s an intrusion

The argument: it’s pushy and salesy.

The reality: we talked to someone recently who told us that when he first put his home on the market, he ignored all our letters. He was getting plenty viewings, so he didn’t feel he needed them. But as the weeks and months went by, the viewings dried up, and he found himself reading the next letter we sent him. Finally, after six months on the market without an offer, he called us. He was ready to ask for our advice and as a result, gave us the instruction to sell his house. Our letters aren’t pushy and salesy, they’re informative and insightful. And when someone is ready, they can be a lifeline.

Myth #5: It’s too expensive

The argument: posting batches of letters that have been professionally printed and that are stamped is just too expensive to be considered a priority.

The reality: direct mail is only expensive if it doesn’t work. The ROI (return on investment) on our letters is incalculable. Here are our campaign costs and returns from March 2021:

            Letters sent                             400

            Cost of printing                       £150

            Cost of envelopes                   £20

            Stamps                                    £264

            Total cost                                £534

            Valuations                               17

            Potential fees                          £500,000+

            Instructed fees to date           £103,510

Beth Pollard Facebook post stating she won a £700k instruction today off the back of 3 Firewave letters

Myth #6: It’s too time-consuming

The argument: when you can get thousands of leaflets sent out so easily, why go to the huge effort of writing 4 or 5-page sales letters, collating address lists, hand-writing envelopes, stuffing and sticking on stamps?

The reality: on average, leaflets return 1 or 2 instructions for each 10,000 mail-outs. BUT they tend to only work on mid- to low-value homes. Not on the unique top 20% of properties. Besides, the returns are astonishing and well worth the extra time you need to put into it. It takes us on average 10 hours to write our monthly direct mail letters, but you shortcut your direct mail process and get your hands on these by becoming a member of Firewave. Find out more here.

Myth #7: It’s too difficult

The argument: finding addresses for properties on the market is too tough to be worth the effort.

The reality: we have our research process honed, documented and easy to follow for even the most junior members of the team. It’s a process we share with our Firewave members, and they also get access to our freelance researcher. Yes, it’s an effort, but it’s so worth overcoming the obstacles to get your direct mail out.

Myth #8: It’s unwanted

The argument: people don’t want to hear from an estate agent when they’ve committed to their current agent.

The reality: they do when their sale is not going as they’d hoped it would. Direct mail keeps you and your agency top of mind during their marketing journey from hopeful to disappointed. We often find our letters neatly piled up on the side when we are invited in to homes that have been on the market for a while, just touching base month after month, waiting for the recipient to be ready to make a change.

Myth #9: It’s unnecessary

The argument: we’re doing ok without direct mail, as we get most of our instructions through word of mouth.

The reality: imagine your ‘word of mouth’ slows or even dries up for some reason. How are you going to fill your diary with new valuations? Direct mail is necessary if you want to build a predictable, consistent pipeline of quality valuations you can always rely on.

Myth #10: It doesn’t work.

The argument: ‘we’ve tried it before and it didn’t work’.

The reality:   In almost every market and in every area across the UK, we have tested our direct mail letters. They always work. Sometimes it takes two, four or more campaigns to start working, but it always works eventually. 

Julie Hill review of Firewave on Ignite Facebook page

How many of these ten myths did you believe about direct mail? if you’re like most agents, probably more than half, right?

Hopefully we’ve made you at least rethink your misconceptions. So let’s finish this article with a concrete list you can trust:

10 Direct Mail Facts that might surprise you

  1. It’s consistent – Firewave direct mail brings in leads every month for our members

  2. It’s predictable – knowing where your next valuation is coming from is a big relief for many independent estate agents, and being able to fill your diary with valuations from direct mail is a huge asset in your business.

  3. It’s profitable – we can usually attribute around £600 – £1000 for every letter we send out. This is the most profitable activity we undertake in our agency, by far.

  4. It’s systemisable – with a process and a routine, you can get your direct mail out every single month without fail. And best of all, you have to do very little of the work yourself.

  5. It’s highly targeted – what other marketing allows you to target the specific houses you want to list, but direct mail?

  6. It’s differentiated – if your competitors are doing it, they’re almost certainly doing it wrong (unless they’re Firewave members). Chances are, your competitors are doing leaflets, or nothing at all. Therefore you have a huge opportunity to stand out to your potential clients.

  7. It’s a filter – if you don’t want to list refurbs or tired semis, you don’t target them. With direct mail, you get to choose exactly the homes you most want to list, and send a letter right to that person.

  8. It’s evergreen – once you know which letters work, you can send them for years to come. They’re an investment you’ll use over and over again.

  9. It’s trackable – you can test the colour of the envelope, the day of the week you send it, even the colour of the ink you use to hand-write the address. You track what you send out, then what comes back, and measure what you do differently.  

  10. It’s simple (but not easy) – if you really want to shortcut your success and have us write your letters, then teach you exactly how to use them, you may find that Firewave is a good fit for you. Click here to find out more about how Firewave can help you.

What to do next

Here are three ways we can help you to nail your direct mail and get into the best homes in your area:

  1. Email Phil for his brutal feedback of your letter
  2. Call Hayley to check if your area is available on 015394 40892
  3. Message Sam on Facebook and ask your toughest marketing strategy question

Remember, “Soon is not as good as now” so stop procrastinating and DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT now.

Speak soon

Sam and Phil

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