In the midst of the craziness of the holiday season, I received two direct mail pieces from the real estate industry. One was a palm-sized magnetic calendar from a realtor and the other was a four-page newsletter from a builder/remodeler. I haven’t purchased from either one of these companies; I’ve heard of the realtor’s company, RE/MAX, but I’ve never heard of the realtor himself. I have heard of the builder (naturally … I am in the biz).
The magnetic calendar is nice enough – if I want to put a tiny calendar on my refrigerator – and each month has some useful home tips. For instance, the tip for December 2010 is: “RESEARCH: if you are in the marketing to buy a home in the next few months, make sure you do preliminary research to determine exactly what your needs and wants are. Use the internet, tour the community and speak to neighbors within the prospective neighborhood.”
The newsletter is glossy and full of graphics, photos and information. The cover story caught my eye – “9 Simple Ways to Add Comfort and Safety to Your Home Before Winter.” Turn the cover and on the inside is a full-page spread of one of the remodeling projects the builder/remodeler just completed, and I particularly appreciated the before and after photos. The opposite page has home holiday safety tips and a Q&A section. In fact, it wasn’t until the back side that there was any company promotion at all.
This builder/remodeler is using the 80/20 rule effectively (80 percent of your newsletter needs to be educational; 20 percent can be promotional). He is saving his most precious real estate – the back cover – to showcase some of his products (in this case, a featured neighborhood) and to tell a little bit about his company. He also has some interesting offers on the mailing panel to get me to call.
So which direct mail piece – the calendar or the newsletter – would you hold onto longer? Which one shouts “I am a trusted resource!” from the hilltops?
Nine out of 10 homeowners are going to say the newsletter. And here’s the biggest reason why: the newsletter is valuable even if you aren’t currently in the market to remodel or build a new home. It is full of tips on how to seal up your home so you aren’t losing as much energy through cracks and crevices around your windows and doors. It has an easy-to-read story (you know how I love stories!) about a kitchen remodel/addition project that was recently completed. The story explains what the family needed out of their home and how the builder/remodel addressed those issues – and what challenges they discovered as they planned the project. The newsletter also contains some fun home safety tips that are nice reminders of how to avoid home hazards during the holiday season.
It is a good piece. It gives me a taste of the company in a friendly, conversational fashion. In fact, it follows several of my newsletters rules:
- It’s educational.
- It’s entertaining.
- It’s easy to read.
- And as long as I continue to receive it on a regular basis, it builds credibility and a strong relationship.
Meanwhile, although the calendar is nice, it doesn’t compel me to form any sort of bond with the realtor. Additionally, given that it is a 13-month calendar, I am left assuming that I won’t hear from him until next holiday season.
If your marketing plan for 2011 includes direct mail, consider developing a newsletter. With consistency over time, it builds trust, credibility and ultimately drives business to you.
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