Think about the last time you received a piece of mail from the postal service that made you stop, free the piece from its envelope and then really want to read it. Perhaps it was a personal letter or maybe a slick piece of marketing. Maybe it has been a while since that happened, but when it did you were probably pretty excited or at least intrigued by the arrival of the piece, whatever it was. Although we’ve grown somewhat accustomed to not receiving hard copy mail (in fact, there’s almost 20 billion less pieces delivered annually now versus 2010), direct mail is still a powerful marketing tool for commercial real estate lead generation. In an industry that’s built on personal interactions and creating great customer experiences, direct mail is the perfect tool for doing just that. It’s tactile, stimulating to the senses and carries a personal one-to-one touch that’s somehow often lost in this digital age.
With fewer companies using direct mail or real estate postcards these days, your opportunity to stand out in the mailboxes of your customers and prospects is better than ever. The trick is making sure that if you’re going to do direct mail, you do it right. If you’re considering getting help with this, select from commercial real estate marketing companies that have proven industry experience and an understanding of these four basic components for using direct mail to generate commercial real estate leads:
Gather your addresses and contacts
You can best reach your target audience by building a mailing list tailored to a specific listing or demographic. Think about your current in-house lists and determine which of the contacts on that list are best suited for the direct mail piece you’re creating. You likely wouldn’t want to send an office space listing to someone that’s only interested in investment opportunities. If you don’t already have a reliable in-house list identified, look to your commercial real estate crm, third-party list providers or, if need be, your agents’ Rolodex. Direct mail is partially a numbers game, so having more is often better, but you also want to be targeted, so take the extra time to ensure that you’re only mailing to targeted prospects.
Design and development
Grabbing the interest will be the first step in building a new relationship or nurturing an existing one. To accomplish this, first make sure it’s different. If you look like every other piece of commercial real estate direct mail than you may be treated that way – which could very well mean ending up in the trash. Direct mail provides a multitude of options to differentiate your brand through personalized mail, dimensional mail, oversized cards, monthly newsletters or just about anything else that will grab a recipient’s attention as long as it is done tastefully and is consistent with your real estate branding.
Next make sure it’s valuable. Recipients are more apt to read and hold onto materials where the goals of the sender and receiver are aligned. You can create this value by publishing industry information, providing relevant reference tables or even by creating clever or humorous editorial.
Finally, direct their next action. One of the most-often missed opportunities in direct mail is failure to include a clear call to action. Generating commercial real estate leads relies heavily on telling the reader what to do next. Remember though, this is not magic and getting a reader to respond means incorporating a reason to respond. This means you have to offer industry specific value, such as a market report, a free property valuation or something similar.
Printing and packaging
A high quality print job makes a difference in the real estate graphic design materials you’ll be sending out. You should work with your printer or commercial real estate marketing agency to pick paper stock that’s right for business and brand image. Make sure that you’re using only high quality images whether they’re stock photography or otherwise. Always ask for a proof before moving to the final production run. In order to work well, direct mail has to look good and feel good in the reader’s hands if your goal is to get them to read and retain the material your sending.
Bringing your commercial real estate lead generation campaign full circle means monitoring results. There’s an adage in marketing that says “inspect what you expect”. You’re not going to send out 250 direct mail pieces just to remind people you’re in business. You’re going to send those pieces with the expectation of generating leads. Be sure to setup a dedicated landing page on your website for your campaign or at least a dedicated phone number for inquiries and then track activity. Inbound traffic that coincides with your direct mail drop will give you clues about the piece you sent – like whether it stimulated recipients to visit your landing page or whether your audience was interested in downloading a free white paper.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results immediately, consistency and repetition is as much a part of generating leads as is developing a list, designing or printing. According to salesforce, it takes 6 to 8 touches to generate a viable lead. With commitment to a targeted on-going campaign and an understanding of the basics you’ll likely find that direct mail definitely is not dead.