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RISMEDIA, March 8, 2010—Many real estate professionals know that direct marketing is one of the most cost efficient methods of marketing to both new and existing customers. It allows you to focus the postcard mailing or other marketing materials directly to potential customers who are part of your target market, but on a large enough scale to make an impact your business. The process of designing a mailing, having it printed, developing a mailing list and then mailing the postcards through your local post office is a very time consuming task. The best way to simplify the process is to go through an online printer who will help you design, print, develop a mailing list, and mail your postcard for the lowest postage rates.

Money Well Spent
While at first the total cost of this all-in-one service may seem high, it actually is the most cost effective method. Not only is it time saving, but a printing company is able to provide you with a targeted mailing list which you may not have had access to without a fee otherwise. Companies offering a mailing service are sending out a large number of mailings which means they can offer you the best shipping rates for your mailing that can save you money on your campaign. And since time really is money when you are juggling multiple tasks of your business, mailing services are priceless. Also, all of this can be done right on your computer from one of the numerous online companies which offer this service. This simplifies the process so you can spend more time with clients and less time in line at the post office. To get the most out of your mailing though, there are several key points to remember.

Build the Correct List
This is where some people tend to panic, but if you take your time and put some thought into what your target market truly is, you’ll be successful. Narrowing down a list from an online source, for example, is very simple if you understand the demographic that you think you might have the best chance of turning into a customer beforehand. If you aren’t sure which demographic to focus on, think of your main core of customers and decide which categories they would best fit into, such as income levels, gender, age, marital status, length of residence, home ownership and location. This will give you a good starting point to narrow down your list. Once you determine which audiences are most successful, you can continue to market to them to keep top of mind, while expanding and testing into other areas and demographics.

There is also this to consider: sometimes a failed direct marketing campaign can also be turned around and deemed a success. Don’t be afraid to test new demographics from time to time because you may find an untapped market. By finding out what works and what doesn’t, you can better streamline your efforts to ensure that you’re only getting the potential customers you really feel will give you the best chance to thrive. Many companies that have mailing services allow you to upload your own list or rent a list from them which has been tailored to your demographics, and then send out your creative all from one place.

Ensure the Creative Is Effective
Here is probably the single most important aspect of the direct mail campaign, since it’s your actual postcard which will catch a customer’s eye and generate a viable lead. The standout nature of your postcard or brochure can’t be understated, or it will get lost with all the other mail that your target audience receives. Not only does it have to be noticeable and bold in terms of color, text, and appeal but it also has to have a clear call to action, and an offer that the potential customer will act upon. For example, why should they buy or sell a house with you? Or display examples of recent successes or the current top properties that you are showing.

It’s also important that the creative is unique, and clearly represents your brand. Uploading graphics and your company logo or photograph adds a nice touch, and will hopefully start to generate brand awareness for your small business. The design and overall look and feel are only bound by your own imagination.

Keep It Going, Keep It Consistent
Most consumers need to hear from an agent multiple times before they decide to act. Build a contact plan to make sure that customers see your message multiple times–focusing on the time of year when they are most likely to use your products. This will make it more likely that you are in their consideration set when they are ready to take action.

In order to make these multiple mailings truly effective, remember to track your results and test different options. Testing is every direct marketer’s best weapon because it lets you determine what works and what doesn’t so you can learn for the next campaign. In fact, every direct marketer should learn from every single mailing so each consecutive one becomes more successful.

Testing doesn’t have to be difficult, or extensive. Start by testing different audiences to see who the right target is. Once you have a good list to work with, test different copy, images and designs. Then, test the format of the piece to determine, for example, if envelopes work better than self mailers. Once you’ve tested for the most effective, most reliable kinds of marketing programs, no matter how small, you can continue to roll them out time after time, stay on top of mind, and continue to generate business.

Trynka Shineman is the Chief Marketing Officer for Vistaprint North America (www.vistaprint.com/rismedia), a leading online supplier of high-quality graphic design services and customized printed products to small businesses and consumers.

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