Archive for December, 2010
In an earlier post, I submitted that the objective of your postcard is not to close the homeowner that is in financial hardship. Rather, your tiny billboard should direct troubled homeowners to a landing page that continues the conversation that the post card started.
Sure, your marketing piece should include your phone number because there will be some people that pick up the phone and call you. Yet there are a vast number of distressed homeowners who are gun shy and are not ready to put their heart on a platter and warm up to you from just one mail piece. The recipient of your material has to be warmed or nurtured first, and that’s where the landing page comes in.
Your landing page should be a fire side chat speaking directly to the defaulting homeowner and should not contain links or information to any other audience. It should be a specific, isolated page on your website, and not your home page. A typical REALTOR’s home page typically tries to be everything to everybody. There’s a link to buying a home, selling a home, market reports, tips on moving, and multiple other links, and you don’t want the distressed homeowner to work to find the information that is relevant to them.
In future posts, we’ll delve deeper into how to create the most impact and achieve the best lead conversion with landing pages.
People respond to repetition. Consider a child that begs for a desperately wanted new toy, ice cream, or permission to stay up past their bedtime. Eventually, their parents give in. This is the marketing secret every child knows.
Distressed homeowners are the same way. It might take repeated requests to over mortgaged homeowners for them to agree to work with you to avoid foreclosure. The reality is great marketing is not now, nor has it ever been, a one-shot deal. Our pre foreclosure list should be pursued with tenacity and persistence. Repetition builds familiarity, which in turn builds credibility, and credibility builds trust.
Regular, repeated marketing to homeowners is the way to create big predictable results. Consider the marketing of Publishers Clearing House. Here is a company who sells magazines with great flare… “Win 10 million dollars in the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes!” You’d think everyone would jump at the chance to win all that money and get their magazine of choice, right? Of course not – we all know it’s not that easy. They get people to buy its magazines through an absolutely incredible marketing campaign. The center point of that campaign is repetitive mailings over an extended period of time. The tenet of the Publishers Clearing House marketing will work for you.
Armed with early default data from the credit bureaus, you can send out one mail piece to one group one time and wait for the phone to ring – obviously one completed short sale transaction will pay for the cost of the campaign and put a lot of money in your pocket. But multiple touch points is the biggest determinant of success.
We’re often asked how selective you can be in nailing down criteria by filtering our pre foreclosure data. In this post, we’ll go over some common filters you can select, with some visual depictions when we build the list.
Geography: We can select distressed homeowners by zip codes, radius around a zip code, area code, cities, county, State, Designated Marketing Area (DMA), Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), or nationwide. The size of the area you select will depend on your desired number of records, the population density of your area, and how selective you are with other filters. The more finitely you slice the information, the larger the area we would have to cover.
How far behind the homeowner is: You can select homeowners based on the number of days past due. In the below screenshot we’ve selected homeowners that are currently 60 days late on their mortgage payment. The “worst status ever on open trades” notes that at some point historically, the homeowner has been late. Had we used this filter – for example, selecting 60 days in this field – the homeowner may have been 60 days late 9 months ago. We opted to select the worst current status on open trades, meaning the homeowner is currently 60 days late on their mortgage payment as of today.
Loan balance range: You can select distressed homeowners by their aggregate mortgage balance range. In the example shown below, we’ve selected homeowners that have loan balances $100K and above. Note that the aggregate mortgage balance is the total dollar amount of all mortgages. If the homeowner has a 1st mortgage for $100K and a 2nd mortgage of $70K, the aggregate mortgage balance range would be $170,000.
Number of mortgage liens: You can limit the number of lenders to one or two, so that you are not a conduit between 5 different lenders that don’t communicate with one another. In the screenshot below, we’ve put a cap at two lenders (If we wanted only homes with one mortgage and eliminate any junior liens, we’d select 1 to 1)
Although these are the most common and manageable filters, we can also be more specific in the distressed homeowners we target. To get a free area analysis in your area, enter your wish list and request a count today.
Make people laugh in unison. Make them FEEL emotions. Make them explore their beliefs and resolve moral quandaries. And a good script will do that. Night after night, show after show and in Shakespeare’s case, century after century.
In theater, all actors are scripted in order to build emotion of the audience. A script is like a business PROCESS. It reliably produces predictable results.
As a REALTOR or investor, you want the same predictable result. You want to hit the right buttons and create the same emotional effect of getting distressed homeowners to like you, trust you, and view you as a friend that has their best interest in mind. Since you want that predictable result, why do it on the fly?
Words matter, and if you sell real estate, you have to do a lot of talking to convince buyers and sellers. It makes sense to have a script prepared, not necessarily a canned scrip verbatim but at least a guided script that provides a framework to the communication.
As an example, some of our clients use our pre foreclosure data to deliver their message of hope and solutions to distressed homeowners in person by door knocking. Rather than winging this message on the porch, you can take a soft sell approach of putting something into the hands of distressed homeowners if they “know someone that is falling behind on their mortgage payment or owe more on their home than what it’s worth.” This message not only disarms the homeowner but creates a viral effect to your free report.
That according to Chris Sylvada at Simple Listing Solutions. Chris provides a good script of how to communicate to distressed homeowners at their doorstep. It goes something like this:
KNOCK KNOCK…. “Good evening, my name is Jim. I’m a local real estate/short sale expert, and I offer compassionate and ethical solutions to problems with real estate loans. I hope I’m not interrupting your dinner… I just want to get this into your hands (hand a flyer or card with a link to a website)…. I’m not sure if this applies to you or not, but I’m sure you know someone that owes more on their house than what it’s worth, or are having a hard time making their mortgage payment. If you know someone, a family member, neighbor, co-worker, someone in the gym – that needs to get out from under their homes, I put together a free report (describe the report and point to the link). I’d love if they called me, but it’s not about me. It’s about helping them, and they’ll thank you for it…. Ok, I’ll let you go, have a great evening.”
Despite the advantages of using postcards to put your message of hope and solutions out to financially troubled homeowners, there are a couple big downfalls to postcard marketing that we’ve seen with some subscribers of our pre foreclosure data, so I want to urge a couple words of caution…
(1) The objective of the postcard is not to close the homeowner. Your tiny billboard has limited space. The postcard’s objective should be to pique the homeowner’s interest and provide a teaser. It’s best used to drive the recipient to a landing page where they can get more details. Unlike a post card that is random (the homeowner didn’t ask for it), a landing page is a specific destination where they go to. There, you can capture their contact information and provide more information than what you can fit into a postcard. Armed with their contact info (most valuably their e-mail address), you can market to them repetitively over time using a drip campaign. Remember, many homeowners will not immediately pick up the phone and call a stranger for a consultation. They have to be warmed first, by continuing the conversation that the post card started.
(2) I’ve seen some postcards that talk too much about the REALTOR or investor. The reality is homeowners don’t care about you or your credentials or your expertise. The homeowner only cares about themselves and their family. Distressed homeowners will make their decision to work with you based on emotion and justify it with logic. Benefits are the language of emotion, while features are the language of logic.
“I’m a CDPE” is a feature. “I’ve saved 28 homeowners from foreclosure this month” is another feature. “We’re a member of the Better Business Bureau” is yet another feature that will not compel the upside down, defaulting homeowner to embrace you. Too many postcards I’ve seen talk bumpkins about features but not enough about benefits.
Some benefits might include getting a good night’s sleep for the first time in six months, moving on to build better memories, saving the homeowner’s credit, getting from underneath their home, etc.
The call to action tells the struggling homeowner what to do next. “Pick up the phone to schedule a personal and confidential consultation” is one obvious call to action, but let’s face it – many of these defaulting homeowners are cautious, embarrassed and may not immediately warm up to a stranger.
Try experimenting with different calls to action. For example, one call to action might be,“Receive a free report on how to stop annoying collection calls using the Fair Debt Collections Reporting Act.” This speaks to a very tangible benefit to them.
If there is a hardship, these homeowners are likely getting hounded by bill collectors. Many that would otherwise not pick up the phone to short sale their home, would reach out to you to learn how to stop annoying collection calls. You are adding something of value – they can have a peaceful evening without interruptions. This call to action – reduce the calls from bill collectors – is a much lower risk than “let me sell your house.”
Once they make contact with you – in this case to learn how to stop the nonstop collection calls without unplugging the phone – you have the opportunity to nurture the lead along towards a completed transaction. Remember, before you can sell their home, they have to first agree to work with you. In order for them to agree to work with you, you must first have a dialogue. Make it easy for them to enter into this dialog… don’t ask for too much at first. Take baby steps.
Just ask yourself what you would do if you were in a bind and were about to lose your home… what would be the easiest call to action?
1) Call for a private and confidential consultation;
2) Call me to sell your home;
3) Call or e-mail for your free report on how to stop harassing collection calls.
Hands down, I pick number 3. Do you agree?
Now, once they respond, you have their attention, and the opportunity to build trust and rapport.
At preforeclosuredata.net, we provide early, accurate and exclusive pre foreclosure data for real estate professionals. If you’ve liked this post, follow us on Twitter @shortsaledata.
A subscriber to our pre foreclosure data used the following post card to get sixteen listings in a month’s time. She sent the postcard out to homeowners 60 days late, multiple times. Each time, she changed the font color. After the third mailing, she followed up with a phone call or a personal visit.
Although her home office offered postcard designs, she said that those were too much “in your face” and came up with this design. I like the picture of the little girl – it puts a personal face on the human element of foreclosure.
Notice that the postcard does not profess that there is any inside knowledge that the homeowner is late on their payment. Instead, the question is, “Do you know people in this situation?”. This disarms the homeowner. Also notice that the postcard speaks in terms of benefits.
While other parts of your letter may be perused more thoroughly, studies show that nearly 4 out of 5 recipients will read the “P.S.” first, because it’s viewed as a more intimate message. The postscript is nearly impossible to ignore.
This attention grabbing device can be used to create a sense of urgency for the homeowner to act now. The time is ticking and so you can remind the homeowner that doing nothing should not be an option.
You can also use the P.S. to send the homeowner to a landing page to access some snippet of information such as a free report or video, or to provide a rock solid guarantee as an added carrot to galvanize the homeowner into action, such as:
“P.S. If I cannot provide the best financial solution that’s legally available, I will give you a $50 dollar gas card on the spot.”
If you’ve liked this post, follow us on Twitter @shortsaledata. For fast counts of how many homeowners are defaulting in your area, visit www.preforeclosuredata.net
There’s lots of diamond ads this holiday season, especially from Zales. They all have one thing in common: the ads convey the benefits of buying a diamond, and there’s no mention of features. As a real estate marketer, you can glean an important lesson from the diamond industry.
Whoever is pushing diamonds are masterful marketers. Think about it. Who would spend thousands of dollars on a little rock that comes from the earth, and a rock that is actually pretty abundant?
The answer is no one. The answer lies not in the gemological properties of the rock, but what that rock conveys.
What would be a better way to sell diamonds?
“This ring features a 1.4 carat, pear-shaped cut white diamond with a SI1 clarity grade and an H color rating.” Unless your a gemologist, this ad is pure gibberish. Compare that ad to this:
“Imagine that special evening when you gently slide this on your finger and stare intensely into her eyes. She peers at this symbol of your devotion, the promise of your future together, and tears begin to glisten. An adoring smile spreads across her face, and at that moment your love is sealed forever.” Which is a better way to sell diamonds?
Benefits are the language of emotion. Features are the language of logic. As world renowned sales trainer Zig Ziglar explains, “People buy on emotion and justify it with logic.”
For a distressed homeowner to work with you, they must first like you and trust you and so intellectual features will not win them over.
“We’ve helped 28 clients this month avoid foreclosure” is a feature, not a benefit. “We’re a member of the Better Business Bureau” is another intellectual feature that will not compel troubled homeowners to work with you. Are you a Certified Distressed Property Expert or have another four-letter acronym that gives you special training to resolve problems with real estate loans? That’s great, but the distressed borrower won’t initially care. They will make their decision to work with you based on emotion, and justify it with your credentials later.
Some examples of benefits might be, “Get a good nights sleep for the first time in six months”…. “Move on to build better memories”…. “Relieve the uncertainty”… “Help your family”…. “Save your credit”… “Return to the normalcy of your day to day affairs”… “Stop the harassing phone calls”, etc.
When putting your message out to distressed borrowers, it’s important to know that it’s not about you, or your realty, or even your expertise. It’s about the troubled homeowner that needs your help. How you will help them solve their problem, make their lives better and most of all, how you will make them feel good.
If you’ve liked this post, follow us on Twitter @shortsaledata. To request a free count of distressed homeowners in your area, visit www.preforeclosuredata.net.
I’m a firm believer in the omnipresence of marketing, and that that e-mail and direct mail can work together to create synergy. Both have it’s unique benefits and neither is superior. Rather, direct mail and e-mail should be linked together to blend both distinct benefits into one impactful marketing strategy. According to an insightful white paper by the USPS,
“Mailbox vs. inbox… the ultimate “boxing” match, right? Well-seasoned marketers know it’s not about choosing sides. By integrating both mail and the Internet into your media mix, you can command the attention of your audience where they live, work and play.” > Download the white paper Sure, you can say that the Post Office is a little biased, but focus on the message, not the messenger. The message makes perfect sense.
For example, you can send a post card to troubled homeowner and as a call to action, you can direct homeowners to a landing page such as yourrealty.com/foreclosurehelp, to view a report like “5 things you should never do if you fall behind on your mortgage payment.” By prompting them for their e-mail address in order to download the free report, you can put the distressed homeowner into an e-mail drip campaign.
Taken a step further, how about teasing the homeowner by providing in your digital report 4 things they should never do if they fall behind on their mortgage payment and tell them that the 5th and most important tip will be mailed to them?
Or, mail them a letter telling them to check their inbox because you are sending them another report. You can harness the power of direct mail and e-mail marketing to experience synergy. In other words, 2 plus two isn’t four. It’s five.