Is there anyone in your town that doesn't know that you buy houses? If so, you aren't doing as well at marketing as you should be. I hear investors saying all the time that they aren't getting seller calls and subsequently aren't getting the leads they need to find deals. I say step up the marketing and the sellers will call. Not only that but if you are shouting to the world that you buy problem properties, eventually you will be known for what you do and sellers will call you strictly on your reputation. THAT is cost effective marketing.
I was in Home Depot a few weeks ago and passed a couple of guys in an aisle. As I walked by, I overheard one say, “That is the house man”. Now I had never seen either of those guys and have no idea who they are but that experience lets me know that I must be doing my job at letting the world know my business is buying houses. There are many ways to let the world know what you do. Some ways are cheap and some are more expensive. You are going to have to try many things and get a feel for what produces for you best in your area. I have tried many kinds of marketing techniques and have come back to a few that constantly produce enough results for me to buy the 2 or 3 houses I want to buy every single month. They are as follows:
The classified ad in the largest paper in the area is by far the largest producer of leads I have found. I know it is expensive and I know there are times it doesn't generate calls but if you are going to stay in the biz just put it in there and leave it. Get used to it being part of the cost of doing business. I pay about $300.00 a month for my 4 line ad and that is the commercial rate. I run it 24/7, 365 days a year.
Over the past 3 years I have seen many “investor” ads come and go. Most folks put them in for a couple of weeks and then pull them or try just putting them in on the weekends. IT AIN'T GONNA WORK! Put it in the paper and leave it. It will more than pay for itself, believe me. If you are worried because there are several in there, don't be. They are there because they are getting calls. Just be sure and actually answer your phone.
When a new ad pops up in my paper, I will always call. 9 times out of 10 I get a message. This is a big turn off to someone who needs a solution now. They want to talk to someone who can qualm their anxiety and tell them everything is going to be alright. Your answering machine won't do that. As for what to put in the ad, you will have to work on this one. I have tried several and the one I have now hasn't changed for over 2 years. I haven't changed it because I get calls. My ad is:
- CASH FOR HOUSES
- In 48 Hours!
- Any area, price or condition
- Call xxx-xxx-xxxx
Now I have had other investors jockey for position and change their ad copy to be ahead of mine in the column but it hasn't made any difference. Don't worry about those things, just get the ad out there and leave it. It may take a few weeks to get going but sellers will call! Once you have your classified ad running than start working on your other ideas. If you only implement one idea a week, within a couple of months you will have a tremendously powerful real estate buying machine.
Ads in the “Freebie” Papers
I also run ads in the freebie papers here. These are the “Thrifty Nickel”, or the “Green Sheet” or whatever they are called in your area. I run both a column ad and a display in this paper and spend about $150.00 a month for these. They pull in seller leads fairly well and have always justified the costs. Remember that these guys are usually open to negotiating on your rates and you can probably get a better rate if you commit to a longer contract.
Bandit signs are great. They are some of the best lead generating tools around. I have yet to put out a bunch and not be bombarded with calls right after. I just don't put them out that often. I might put out 5 or so a month and the ones that stay continue to pull in calls. At an average cost of less than $2.00 apiece, they are one of the best values around. Check the internet for sign companies for cheaper prices. I use 18 x 24 signs and place them at high traffic intersections around town. I also place one in the front yard immediately upon buying any house.
I have bought several homes in the same neighborhoods as a result of this. You can either use contractor stakes or the wire stakes with your signs. I like the contractor stakes because they don't bend like the wire ones, in addition, they are cheaper. Just nail the sign to it with the roofing nails with the orange or green plastic tops or you can use screws. There are many variations on what your wording on the sign can say. Keep in mind that traffic will be moving so you want to keep your message short and sweet so it can be read. My signs say:
- I BUY HOUSES
- Cash in 48 Hours!
- Any area, price, condition
Notice that it is the same as my newspaper ad? I like to brand my advertising because I think that helps with recognition. My signs are white with dark blue letters. Some folks swear by black on yellow or black on orange. Again, I say it's not what or how you say it but the fact that you DO say it that counts. When dealing with bandit signs, be sure that your local code enforcement laws are tolerant of them. In my area, the City of Macon is very lax on them but a few miles down the road in Warner Robins they are super strict and will fine you in a minute.
Flyers are another inexpensive way to get the word out that you buy houses. Just create a flyer telling people what you do and how to get in contact with you. Make copies for $.05 cents apiece and you have some really inexpensive advertising. It really is that simple. Then place these flyers on every bulletin board in your town. I also place some of them in those plastic sheet protectors so the rain won't destroy them and put them up on telephone poles around neighborhoods I like to buy in. While not as large as the bandit signs, on poles actually IN the neighborhood they still attract calls. I carry a file with me in my truck and place them up whenever I stop at a grocery store or Wal-Mart. Some other places to put them are:
- Taped to the inside of Pay phones
- On the counter of any business that will allow you
- Bulletin boards at Wal-Mart or K-Mart
- Grocery store bulletin boards
- Fax to Mortgage Brokers
- Fax to Real Estate Agents
- Take them Door to Door in target neighborhoods
- Employment Center Bulletin board
- County Courthouse Bulletin board
These are just a few examples. Any place that will allow you to put one is a good place. You can never let too many people know that you buy houses!
These are some of my favorites and most fun. While they are not the top producers of leads or the least expensive, they will sure set you apart from the average investor.
Pen Knives – These tiny Swiss army knives are the coolest. They are actually key chains engraved with your message, mine being: WE BUY HOUSES- All cash or take over payments within 48 hours! Xxx-xxx-xxx I guarantee if you give one of these to someone they will keep it and if they think of selling, they will think of you. They are about $1.50 apiece.
Key Chains – I give these to all my buyers with the keys to their new house on them and leave them all over the place. They come in the shape of a house or #1 or whatever style you like and have your message on them. You can guess what mine says. Cost – about $. 25 cents apiece.
Pens – I use these all the time. Whenever I sign a sales receipt or anything I leave my pen. I can't tell you how many calls I have gotten off of these things and since I always need one, I always have one to give away. My attorney even has a supply on his closing table. Mine are the “click” type and have my message repeating around the barrel. I have two types printed. One for sellers says “We Buy Houses!” and one for buyers says “Everyone Qualifies”. Cost – about $.21 cents apiece.
Coin Holders – These you hardly find anymore so everyone is surprised when I have them. I leave these things everywhere. Mine are bright yellow with blue letters and my message. Cost – about $.30 cents apiece.
I leave all of these promotional items everywhere, on the top of gas pumps, on end-cap displays in grocery stores and in department stores. I look at it this way, if I give away 100 pens, 50 knives and 50 coin holders a month, that is only a little over $100 bucks a month. That is still cheap advertising. You can get any of these promotional advertising products at National Pen. Their website address is www.pens.com or you can call my rep “Madison” directly at 1-888-672-9810. Always ask for her specials and tell her William sent you.
I order business cards by the 1000's and you should as well. They are cheap, mine are about $50.00 for 2000, and I pass them out everywhere. I leave my cards everywhere, in pay phones, on restaurant tables, my kids even have their own supply to pass out. Try to get a box a week out. The card doesn't have to be fancy, in fact the simpler the better. My card is bright yellow with blue letters and says:
- WE BUY HOUSES
- Foreclosure? Need Repairs? Bad Tenants? Divorce?
- CASH IN 48 HOURS!
- OFFERS MADE ON ALL CALLS!
Magnetics are one of those things where you spend once and get use for a long time. Mine cost about $75.00 and are yellow with blue letters. They say:
WE BUY HOUSES!
I have gotten several deals from these signs. Remember to order a smaller set for the back of your car/truck. People have more of a chance to read the message when they are riding behind you.
I like golf shirts and oxford dress shirts with my logo on them. There's plenty of advertsing houses that will help you design a logo if you don't have one or use the one you already have. There is no charge for set up and all items ordered include your embroidered logo free. They also have cool baseball caps and other stuff there as well. They have specials for new customers at great prices.
I pass my hats out to everyone I know who wears one and have given away many shirts as well. They really look nice and present a nice image for your business.
Other Advertising Tools
There are many other forms of advertising, some I have tried in the past such as billboards, door hangers, yellow pages, television and radio advertising. I even have a traveling billboard, an old SUV painted bright yellow with blue WE BUY HOUSES! and my phone number that I drive around and park overnight at different places. It gets the calls! Get the marketing going and let the world know who to call when they have a house to sell. If that phone isn't ringing, you aren't making money!