4 Ways To Harness The Selling Power Of Direct Mail

In an age where we can order groceries through Amazon and watch Wolf Blitzer via hologram, it seems a little old hat for real estate agents to include direct mail in their marketing campaigns. But it’s not.

While the idea of paper ads may feel outdated, the reality is that direct mail is still very effective. In fact, it remains a favored method for many agents.

According to the CMO Council, a peer network of chief marketing officers, nearly 80 percent of consumers will act on direct mail immediately, compared to only 45 percent who act on email. The Direct Marketing Association reported that more than half of consumers consider print marketing the most trustworthy. And in a direct rebut to the “it’s too old fashioned” argument, AlphaGraphics claimed that 92 percent of young shoppers say they prefer direct mail for making purchasing decisions.

For agents the question then becomes: how do I use direct mail effectively? Here are four ground rules:

#1. Use It To Reinforce Your Brand

One of the primary benefits of direct mail is that it provides potential clients with something tangible. It’s the perfect opportunity to literally put your brand directly into their hands.

#2. Create Urgency with Calls to Action

Direct mail isn’t interactive like online ads, so it needs a visible call to action that gives the recipient an easy next step to take. A QR code is one option for taking that step from page to screen – but that is a bit outdated. More effective would be a phone number, email or a short, easy-to-remember URL the recipient can refer to when he or she is ready to start the buying or selling process.

#3. Define and Speak to Your Target Audience

When composing a direct mailing list, carefully consider who you are sending to and what message you want to convey. Direct mail allows you to hyper-target your message. If you’re speaking to Millennials, the message could address entry-level homes or common financing questions. If you’re targeting older homeowners, perhaps the angle is the resale process or downsizing.

#4. Integrate Direct Mail with Other Channels

A benefit of digital advertising is that it’s easy to manage campaigns across multiple platforms and mediums. The same approach should be taken with direct mail. Agents can fold their direct mail messages into other marketing campaigns and materials (like brochures and e-blasts) to maximize its effectiveness, or cast a wider net by sending multiple mailers delivering separate but related messages to different audiences.


AgentEDU® is a platform where agents at every level can come to watch 10-minute video courses for the many situations that successful agents must master. From essential to advanced level and everything in between, AgentEDU® courses help agents become top producers with increased earnings and a plan for continued growth.

AgentEDU® is an Agent Publishing brand. For nearly two decades, Agent Publishing has been committed to providing residential real estate professionals with the information and training required to build successful and meaningful careers in their local markets. Agent Publishing’s influence extends to every career stage and reaches agents across print, digital, events and online learning.

The Real Estate Agent’s Simple 3-Step Marketing Plan

With 2016 well underway, your marketing plan should be set in action.

Many agents we ask about marketing here at AgentEDU will immediately launch into tactics, without the context of larger goals or strategies. It makes sense, since tactics—the actual steps you will take to achieve something—are concrete and easy to check off as they’re completed.

Many agents have an intuitive view of their goals (“sell more”) but breaking them down into actionable steps can be deceptively tricky. The truth is that many agents don’t understand the difference between objectives, strategies and tactics, and how these elements fit together to form a marketing plan.

So let’s break them down with a simple example.

We’ll take an “inverted pyramid” approach. Divide your 2016 marketing plan into these three components:

  1. Objectives
  2. Strategies
  3. Tactics

Step One: Objectives

The first step is to identify your objectives. Objectives are the goals of your marketing efforts. They must be specific and measurable, and should be tied to a timeline. When you plan to accomplish something is just as important as how you plan to do it.

Let’s say your objective is to increase referrals by 20 percent by the end of 2016 (an admirable goal, since according to NAR’s 2015 Member Profile, 20 percent of the typical Realtor’s business is already accounted for by referrals.) You’ve established what needs to happen, and by when.

The second step to getting more referrals is to define the strategy you’ll use to meet that goal.

Step Two: Strategy

Strategy is often confused with tactics. Strategy is how you plan to get from Point A to Point B (plane? Train? Automobile?) while the tactics are the tasks you complete to move forward (buy your ticket early, pack light, stock up on road snacks). Strategy, therefore, is the broad look at how you are going to achieve your objective.

To meet the objective of increasing referrals by 20 percent by the end of the year, some strategies could include:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Strengthen past client relationships
  • Develop a more compelling marketing message (redefine why customers should choose you)

…and so on.

Depending on the scale and timeline of the objective, you may need to use multiple strategies.

The third step is to define your tactics.

Step Three: Tactics

Once you’ve identified the strategies you need to reach your objectives, you can start to identify the specific tactics you can use to make it happen.

Let’s say you went with the “strengthen past client relationships” strategy to meet the objective of increasing referrals by 20 percent by the end of 2016. Your tactics may include:

  • Snail mail a quarterly newsletter to past clients
  • Send out holiday cards with a personal touch
  • Start a monthly email newsletter
  • Send client appreciation gifts
  • Initiate follow-up satisfaction calls with clients six months after closing

If you decide to go with the strategy of “increasing brand awareness,” you may include these tactics:

  • Run ads with local publications
  • Take out a bus bench ad
  • Run ad campaigns on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
  • Update the design of your printed materials (brochures, For Sale signs, etc.)

Like business objectives, tactics should be tied to a timeline. Set a deadline for the completion of each task that’s tied to one of your tactics ­– this is especially important if you’ll be delegating any of those tasks.

Defining marketing objectives, strategies and tactics isn’t difficult, but it does require careful thought and consideration, something many busy agents might not think they have time for. Agents with good business instincts are likely following this structure in their marketing in some way already, though the marketing plan may not be formally documented anywhere.

A clear definition of what you want to accomplish with your marketing and how you will get there is one key component of growing your real estate business.


AgentEDU® is a platform where agents at every level can come to watch 10-minute video courses for the many situations that successful agents must master. From essential to advanced level and everything in between, AgentEDU® courses help agents become top producers with increased earnings and a plan for continued growth.

AgentEDU® is an Agent Publishing brand. For nearly two decades, Agent Publishing has been committed to providing residential real estate professionals with the information and training required to build successful and meaningful careers in their local markets. Agent Publishing’s influence extends to every career stage and reaches agents across print, digital, events and online learning.