Real estate agencies from Melbourne to Manchester have one thing in common: they run on a stream of new property leads. In an effort to capture more leads, digital and social media have driven a dagger into the heart of ‘classic’, time-tested marketing tools. For instance, real estate postcards.
Yet, with this big push toward digital, does this mean real estate postcards can ride off into the sunset and take their spot on marketing’s mantlepiece?
For many, the thought of sending postcards to reach potential clients can come across as … passé. But in my 5+ years of copywriting experience, I’m a firm believer you can sell just about anything via mail. I’ll go as far as to say, when done right, realty services are one of the easiest services to sell to homeowners.
What’s more, real estate postcards (also known as mailers) have been around for decades. So they aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. But the one thing that does need to go away soon is the drop-dead awful sales copy on mailers.
For instance, Melbourne’s housing market is on a tear right now. Every homeowner wants to cash in on pent up buyer demand. My letterbox is chock-full of real estate postcards. To be honest, 99 per cent of those mailers are garbage. And the one per cent I do glance at? Words can’t begin to describe how bland the messaging is. Put simply, the copy stinks.
Now, I’m not sure if it’s the agents or some overworked, underpaid admin person who writes these postcards. Whoever you are, I’m writing this post to you. Because one of my goals with Mylk Copy and The Crate, is to offer time-tested advice you can use in your biz. With that said, let’s start from the top.
Answer these three questions before you put fingers to the keyboard.
While real estate postcards are short, the ones that get the strongest response rates are written off the back of a solid copywriting foundation. So, before you write, type or massage out ideas, answer these questions.
Question #1: Do you know who you’re writing to?
Before you sit down to write, you need to know whom you’re writing to. I recommend you research the exact homeowner you want to attract. By narrowing down your audience, it’s far easier to craft a headline that appeals to that audience alone.
For example, I once wrote a real estate postcard that targeted people who own a 3+ bedroom home in Sorrento, with views of the bay. Yes, it’s hyper-specific. Yes, it excludes tons of other homeowners. But the client wasn’t interested in sending out mailers to every home in the bay. This client knew his exact audience, which made coming up with the sales angle effortless. In turn, it boosts the response rates.
Question #2: Have you got something of value to offer?
I hate to break it to you, but most homeowners don’t wake up in the morning ready to sell their home. For most people, it can take weeks or months. Starting a mailer with the headline ‘Last month we sold seven homes! Now we’re looking for more!’ means diddly-squat. Instead, look to offer value upfront. This can be in the form of a free consult or an eBook that offers up must-know information and tips.
Question #3: Do you have a ‘mechanism’ that makes your agency special?
For instance, do you have 575 cashed-up buyers ready to buy? Can you guarantee to sell a home within 30 days? Or do you have a little-known method that legally increases a home’s selling price by $100K? Whatever your ’secret sauce’ mechanism is, write it down and work it into the headline.
Once you’ve answered those three questions, you can move to the next step: headlines.
Headlines that sell the sizzle not the steak.
Step one of any piece of copy starts with the headline. Here’s what you need to know to write killer real estate postcard headlines.
Headlines that hook. A good headline makes all the difference between your postcard being read or being tossed into the rubbish. I recommend writing 30, 40, even 50 headlines. The first few headlines you churn out are always the most obvious ideas. (So you can bet your next paycheque people have heard them before.) It’s only after the tenth, eleventh or even twelfth headline do the creative juices start to flow. And it’s here you begin to craft compelling headlines.
Go short. I’ve found shorter headlines perform best for direct response mailers. The goal here is to make the postcard readable at a glance so people who shuffle through the mail can still grab the main benefit in a hurry. Experiment with this and test for response rate.
What headline angle to use. To jumpstart the process, here are a few angles you can use to start formulating your headline ideas.
- ‘Are you’ angle:
- Are you looking to sell your 3-bedroom townhouse in the next 30 days?
- Are you fed up with empty promises from shady real estate agents?
- ‘Number of ways’ to angle:
- Eleven low-cost home upgrades that add up to $58K in value to your townhouse.
- Three little-known ways to ensure your home sells at the right price, without having to shave a dollar off the price.
- 18-page free home improvement guide when you scan the QR code today.
- ‘How to’ headline:
- How to maximise your townhouse’s value in minimum time.
- How to sell your 3-bedroom home at the price you want without any negotiating.
- News angle:
- You must’ve read about your home a lot in the news by now…
- ‘Number of ways’ to angle:
- ‘Give us’ angle:
- Give us 20 minutes and we’ll show you how to avoid the ten most common mistakes when selling your home.
- Give us 30 minutes and you’ll discover how easy it is to sell your home at above-market rates.
While these angles are miles apart, they do have one thing in common: each one is either (a) benefit-driven or (b) rubs that curiosity itch. People can instantly see there’s something in it for them.
Three pro body copy tips for winning real estate postcards.
- The power of one. I’ve seen 12x17cm (5×7″) postcards with four, six, even eight random call-outs. Not only does this dilute the sales message, but it also makes the mailer look like a fast-food menu from a dingy pizza shop. To eliminate clutter, focus the postcard on one key benefit (or one key solution) and build on this one idea in the body copy.
- Do more with less. Bullet points are a no-fuss way to tell and sell in bite-sized pieces. So keep bullet points short — one sentence if possible. And make sure every bullet is benefit-driven. For example, don’t write ‘Let us help sell your property’. Do write, ‘We guarantee to sell your home in 60 days or less, or you pay zero per cent commission.’
- Write with structure. Albeit short, mailers should have a start, a middle and an end. The headline is the start that hooks a reader. The body is the middle and goes on to substantiate your headline. The call-to-action (CTA) is the end, where you tell the reader to take actio
The back of the postcard.
Now that the front is completed, it’s time to move to the back. Avoid wasting the reverse side for a large profile picture or full-sized logo. Do these three things instead.
- Maximise white space. The back of the mailer often has space for one or two paragraphs. The best use of this real estate is to (1) expand on a previous bullet point to drive the sales message home, or (2) use a two-line sentence that highlights your unique selling proposition (USP). Your USP tells readers what makes you unique amongst the competition.
- Social proof your biz. You should have a Mars bar’s width of space left. A good way to fill this blank space is with a client testimonial. Keep your testimonial short and to one line. No gasbagging. And always add in the client’s name and suburb/street as this adds to the credibility.
- Recycle your headlines. Remember that list of headlines you wrote in step one? Keep those. You can use those headlines as subheads or even sentences to end the sales message in the CTA.
Three bonus tips to give your mailer extra firepower.
BONUS #1: Don’t finish with a question mark. Remember, we want to persuade people and get them through your agency’s front door. Omit the ‘doesn’t this sound great?’ type of questions, because as soon as the reader says “no”, it’s off to the bin you go.
BONUS #2: Give people a reason to respond. You’d be surprised at how many times postcards don’t tell readers to take action. People are procrastinators. Give them a reason now, or they’ll be put off forever.
BONUS #3: Test! Test! Test! The minimum size for a test mailing is 1,000 postcards. This will give you an idea of responses on a smaller (and cheaper) scale. I recommend to split test two variations, even a third, if budget permits. You want to find out which postcard variation generates the highest response rate.
A final thought on real estate postcards.
Perhaps you’re thinking this was a long post for a short amount of copy. And yet, it’s well warranted. Because whether you’re sending mailing postcards or a one-page sales letter to drum-up new biz, the words on the page is all you have to bank on. Get those words right with the tips I’ve spelled out above and you can sell just about anything on a 12x17cm postcard.