Writing Letters to Listing Prospects

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

When you’re prospecting for real estate leads, you send a letter.

But how many letters? And what should that letter say?

Most definitely, you need to send more than one. There’s a remote chance, if your letter is dynamite, and if it happens to arrive at just the right time, that one letter will make your phone ring.

But it isn’t very likely to happen that way.

If you think about it, you’ll realize that writing a letter to a cold client is about the same as making a “cold” phone call. They weren’t expecting to hear from you, they don’t know you, and they have no idea if you’re good at what you do.

You are merely another stranger who has invaded their mailbox.

In addition to that, your message might arrive on a day when the homeowner is far too busy to open any mail that looks like advertising. It might arrive when the homeowner is angry at real estate agents in general. It might arrive when they’re out of town. It might arrive when they’re in bed with the flu. It might arrive when they’re just not interested.

But the next time they see a letter from you they’ll know you’re just a little bit different from the others, and they might take the time to read and that letter to find out why.

By the time the third letter arrives, they’ll be wondering “Who is this person who is so persistent?” and they might just want to know more.

Then when the 4th letter comes, if they really are in the market for a real estate agent, they’re very likely to call.

But there’s a trick to making this happen. You can't  just send any old letter.

You can’t send one of those generic things that says: “Here I am. I want your listing. Hire me.”

You need to send something that says “Here I am, and I want to help you.” And in each of your letters you need to offer advice, suggestions, and information that really does help them in some way.

Then, with each successive letter you’ll be positioning yourself as a person they can trust – someone who will give them good advice and guide them through getting their home sold.

You’ve heard that old saying: “You don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date.”

Getting a real estate listing isn’t much different. If you ask for the listing before the homeowners have had a chance to get acquainted with you, the answer is likely to be “No,” especially in the current market.

So send them letters that allow them to get acquainted with you and learn to trust you. Then ask for their business. And get it.

 

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Rainmaker
239,436
Scott Guay
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services PenFed Realty - Ocean Pines, MD
Associate Broker. Ocean City and Ocean Pines MD

Letters are much more personal then post cards.  The message is key in making a connection.

Jan 21, 2010 07:05 AM #4
Rainmaker
896,759
Brian Madigan
RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto) - Toronto, ON
LL.B., Broker

Marte,

 

Thanks for the advice, I'm just about to start. Letter #1 is ready to go, but, I haven't done the rest yet.

 

Brian

Jan 21, 2010 07:16 AM #5
Rainmaker
284,882
Carra Riley
Realty ONE Group Premier Colorado - Denver, CO

Marte...I agree that you must be persistent with any of your marketing efforts, especially letters.  The theory of drip, drip, drip seems to work if you are providing valuable information and show patience. 

Cosmic Cow

Jan 21, 2010 10:28 AM #6
Rainmaker
858,397
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Hi all,

Yes, the message is the key. Post cards can work as long as they SAY something that is useful to the reader.

Unfortunately, many agents take the easy road and just write the "I want your listing" kind of letter. In fact, I have never seen the other kind in my mailbox. Good letters do take more effort to write. Postcards can be even more difficult because of the limited space.

But once you have a good letter or card, you can alter it for different prospects and not have to start over every time.

It is all about how people feel when they read your message.

Thank you all for commenting!

Jan 21, 2010 12:27 PM #7
Rainmaker
1,060,751
Nick T Pappas
Assoc. Broker/Broker ABR, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, Huntsville AL - Huntsville, AL
Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource

I guess that's why it's called prospecting;  you don't stick the pan in the stream once hoping to find a gold nugget.

Jan 21, 2010 03:09 PM #8
Rainer
61,718
Bob Dunn
Homelife Glenayre Realty - Abbotsford, BC

I've had great success with letters and newsletters over the years. Its amazing that I have had people call me several years after I've started mailing. I think that what has changed over the years is that more frequent contacts are necessary.

As cheap as emails are I think letters make a greater and more memorable impact.

Jan 22, 2010 12:50 AM #9
Rainmaker
858,397
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Nick - also why some call it farming. You have to plant the seeds, keep the weeds out, cultivate the plants, and finally one day you get to harvest the crop.

Bob - I agree. Email is good for some things, but that letter you can hold in your hand does make a greater impact. I like newsletters for this, too.

A few years after I quit selling to write full time I had someone call me. His father had passed away and he found a letter I had written about 10 years earlier in with the property files, so he tracked me down and called to talk to me about selling.

I have also had calls months or years later from "pretty" postcards I used to send. One lady said she had kept it on her refrigerator all that time.

That just will not happen with an email!

Jan 22, 2010 03:12 AM #10
Rainer
239,777
Justin Dibbs
United Real Estate - Ashburn, VA
REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale

Yep, direct mail works for SURE!  I feel lucky to be of the age of 37.  Tech savvy enough to embrace lots of technology, but old enough to know good direct mail works really well.  I was at a local REBarCamp and in one of the sessions, a husband and wife team (in their late 50's) mentioned sending out letters.  Almost everyone Realtor in the room dismissed them as if they were dinosaurs.  

Jan 22, 2010 08:50 AM #11
Rainmaker
219,483
Bo Kociuba & Buster Elliott - The B&B HOME Team 405-812-1572
WelcomeHomeOKC.com - We Can Move Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime! - Mustang, OK

Marte - Lenn's post got me here. Thanks for re-inforcing the idea that 'the old' still works, and it works WELL! You gave me a proverbial kick (here and there) to re-think some of my marketing...

With smiles,

Bo in Yukon

Jan 22, 2010 09:37 AM #12
Rainmaker
90,211
Craig Chapman
Call Realty / Access Appraisals - Mesa, AZ
The Value Guy

I agree about the multiple contacts & with a usefull message.  I recently read about a study done by a national sales executive association that said this.  2% of sales came from the 1st contact.  Another 3% came from the 2nd contact.  An additional 5% came from the 3rd contact.  10% more came from a 4th contact, and 80% came from the 5th - the 12th contacts.  Wow.  How many give up after 2 or 3, or even 1?  Makes you think. 

Jan 22, 2010 12:42 PM #13
Rainmaker
858,397
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Justin - Good for you for taking the best parts of old and new. What a lot of the "youngsters" don't think about is that their prospective customers may not have embraced technology as passionately as they have. In fact, some of your best buyers and sellers could come from people who don't even own a computer!

 

Bo - You're welcome. Hope the kick wasn't painful!

Craig - It appears to me that many give up after just one contact. I know that the few who mail in my community do. (But that's OK - because they also don't provide a useful message.)

 

Jan 22, 2010 04:04 PM #14
Rainmaker
576,051
Chris Smith
Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage - New Tecumseth, ON
South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta

Thank You for the advice Marte, I am going to try it... will let you know how it works =)

Jan 23, 2010 12:58 PM #15
Rainmaker
858,397
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Good for you, Chris! Please do let me know of your results ... I love hearing about success!

Marte

Jan 23, 2010 01:43 PM #16
Rainer
14,923
Jenn & Phil Beck
www.utahspot.com, Salt Lake Real Estate, Coldwell Banker - Salt Lake City, UT
Salt Lake City Homes For Sale

Great ideas. Personal letters always have gotten us a better response than just postcards. A series of letters, with valuable info, seems even better. One key to their effectiveness is the personalizing and the persistence in sending them.

Jan 27, 2010 11:16 PM #17
Rainmaker
858,397
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Jenn and Phil - Exactly. Content, personalization, and persistence are the keys to making those prospects come to know you and trust that you are the agent they need.

Jan 28, 2010 04:50 PM #18
Rainmaker
107,498
Dana Devine
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Apollo Beach, FL

i am going to do this...but do yo type the lette or hand write it

and the same for the envelop?

what do you say in this letter

Jan 29, 2010 12:21 PM #19
Rainmaker
593,040
Laura Giannotta
Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore - Little Egg Harbor, NJ
Your Realtor Down the Shore!

It always amazes me that some agents expect a response from a one time mailing...this post is excellent, explaining that an ongoing campaign so the potential client gets to know you!  And thanks for the links!

Feb 07, 2010 06:21 AM #21
Rainmaker
858,397
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Hi Laura - it is silly, isn't it? People need to get to know you a little before they get an urge to call and do business with you, but some agents don't "get it."

Feb 07, 2010 04:27 PM #22
Rainmaker
924,345
Tony Marriott
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Associate Broker, REALTOR

Lead generation is the fuel for the engine and Prospecting is a key ingredient in Lead Generation!

Dec 08, 2010 10:31 AM #23
Rainmaker
858,397
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Tony & Suzanne - that's right - You aren't going to get many leads if you sit and do nothing!

Dec 08, 2010 01:39 PM #24
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