Whether it’s Tiger Woods or direct mail, we all love a good comeback.
In a world where direct mail is largely overlooked as the “has-been,” we’ve seen trends that point to 2019 being the year it makes a huge comeback in commercial real estate.
The “Comeback Kid” of 2019
According to the Data & Marketing Association, across all industries in 2018, direct mail response rates were 4.9%, which outpaced email and digital ads 5-to-1.
In fact, that rate was much higher than 2017’s direct mail response rate of 2.9%, and was the highest recorded yearly average since the DMA first released their Response Rate Report in 2003.
People are engaging with direct mail more than they have in a long time, and because of it, the medium is storming back to prevalence.
With that, we’re going to show you the tricks of the trade, how to innovate therein, and ultimately how to win more business with your outreach.
Tricks of the Trade
1. Target niche audiences.
It’s always important to start with the right audience of property owners.
When it comes to direct mailers in commercial real estate, your list of property owners can never be too targeted. Any quantity works so long as your list is built based on very specific ownership characteristics.
Some potential examples of your mailing list specificity could be:
- Owners of 30+ unit multi-family buildings in Downtown Durham, NC.
- Owners of Opportunity Zone warehouses in Orlando that haven’t sold in 10+ years.
- Owners that have bought/sold vacant land in zip code 97739 in the past 90 days.
- Owners of Oklahoma City duplexes recently hit by a hail storm and in need of repair.
- Owners of retail real estate in NJ built before 1925 in need of renovation.
- Recent buyers of Nashville office buildings with tech company tenants in need of janitorial services.
Reonomy helps with building a list of any of these owners and getting their addresses, all in one fell swoop.
Identify owners based on their location, the type of asset(s) they own, their ownership history of sales and debt, and more. Once you’ve honed in on your niche list of owners, you can export your list and be on your way.
2. Get personal.
Show some humanity in your mailer. Show property owners who you are.
Include an image of yourself, hand-write a message, and reference their portfolio as specifically as possible—use dollar amounts, addresses, and owner-specific geographical references.
And don’t be afraid to get creative.
One Reonomy client, a commercial roofer, finds owners with dilapidated roofs, pulls an image of the roof from the Reonomy platform, and sends the image to the actual owner.
Then, instead of simply sending a card with a generic headline like, “Leading Commercial Roof Repair,” that roofer might send something like:
“Hi Stephen—I couldn’t help but notice your roof at 100 W Oak St is looking a bit aged. Recently, my company renovated a 21,000 square foot roof on Hickory St in Downtown Denton, just a few blocks away. The owners were very happy with the results. I thought you might want to go through some potential upgrade options. Would you have some time for a call this week?”
3. Make your mailer linger.
Perhaps the best part about sending mail? It can linger. Both on the desk and deep in the mind of property owners.
Neuroscience studies show that physical, tangible materials take less cognitive effort to intake, create easier brand recall, and can leave a “deeper footprint in the brain.” People also trust physical mail more than digital media.
Making your direct mail collateral linger in the mind of an owner is a matter of two things—sharp, clean design and punchy, specific text.
First, make sure your mailer is well-designed and representative of your brand. Aside from sites like postcardmania.com and modernpostcard.com, you can turn to a freelance designer to build something truly unique and innovative.
Second, lead the recipient’s eyes to the text that matters most, and make sure that text is specific and powerful.
Include a bold header in a color different than all the other text. Simple and clean works just fine, as well—it’s much better than sending something over-stuffed with images and text.
If you’re a broker, your header might read something like:
“Just Sold Near You: 1422 W Anderson St. for $2.2m.”
That headline could be followed by an image of the property with its measurements, and a hand-written note explaining how you could be a similar resource for the recipient.
Sending this to an owner near 1422 Anderson St. and adding “near you” to the headline won’t leave them with much to wonder about, while making the mailer feel personal.
4. Be patient. Follow up.
Direct mail has great response rates… Eventually. It’s almost never going to get you in contact with a property owner on the first send, so be patient and persistent.
Let’s be honest, this is the case for basically all forms of outreach. The key here is to follow-up, follow-up, and follow-up.
Build a multi-channel follow-up strategy that incorporates email, phone calls, and text messaging, and use the same messaging you used in your mailer.
Always use your follow-up to drive property owners to your website.
Share a landing page, relevant articles, and always be sure to remind them that you’re available for a call.
We’ve all heard the tale of the tortoise and the hare…
When it comes to commercial property owner outreach, slow and steady often does win the race, making direct mail an essential medium to use in 2019 and beyond.