The Case Against Yellow Letters

Looking for Above Average Results? It’s Time For A Marketing Overhaul!!

Fellow investors, we need to talk. I have no doubt that most, if not all of you have either used or considered using “Yellow Letters” in your business.  The name has been around for some time and through great advertising, has been used synonymously with direct mail marketing.  It’s not surprising that most investors rely on yellow letters as the go-to direct mail product, but I challenge you to consider the fact that just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean that you should. In actuality, the fact that “everyone else is doing it” is one of the key reasons why you probably DON’T want to use it in your business. When the handwritten yellow letter was born, it was unique.  Although I was not an investor at the time, I don’t doubt that this product worked well.  First off, there was low investor competition in the direct mail space and secondly, it stood out in the eyes of the recipient, which is what got the phones ringing.  Fast-forward to today and tens of thousands of investors are still using the same general mail piece but they are not nearly as effective as they once were. In this article, I will share the insights that I’ve gained through mailing hundreds of thousands of mailers and what I’ve found that works the best and how I found a way to increase my response rate by 26.7% over my yellow letter/generic letter competitors. It is time for a major update in the direct mail marketing space!

Why Are Yellow Letters Becoming LESS Effective?

Yellow Letter mailers are no longer unique.  There are A LOT of investors using this type of mailer. That means, most of your prospects will likely have already seen the same type of mailer from another investor.  Your marketing message will be lost and your response rates will suffer.  Consider this:  You mail to an absentee owner and they receive your mailers along with 5 others.  If all of the mailers are the same and they all contain a yellow letter, what makes you stand out from the others?  Nothing! Marketing is all about being different and getting noticed, instead, you are drowning is a sea of Yellow. There is no branding.  Your logo is what makes people remember you.  When you send a standard envelope and yellow letter, there is nothing that will identify your brand.  This is a huge missed opportunity because when the time comes for them to sell, you want to trigger a memory of YOUR mail piece, company name, or logo. As of now, all they remember are the dozens of yellow lined pieces of paper. Yellow letters are no longer viewed as authentic.  Because so many investors are using yellow letters, most prospects have seen them enough to know they are not an authentic written letter.  They understand this is a marketing tactic and will likely throw it away or in a stack with all of the other letters. Yellow Letters look unprofessional.  You might say “yellow letters are supposed to be personal, not professional”.  While I agree with that statement, there is still a professional way to be personal. For instance, how about writing a hand written note on thicker paper stock with custom letterhead?

Why Are Today’s Investors Still Seeing Yellow?

If everyone else is using yellow letters, they must be the gold standard, right?!  Wrong.  Lots of investors talk about yellow letters because they have been around for so long.  It’s no wonder new investors think this might be the gold standard. However, the next time someone recommends that you use handwritten yellow letters, I challenge you to ask them a question or two:  “Have you ever tested this product against anything else?”, “How do you know that this product will be the most effective for my business?” I think you’ll be surprised to learn that most investors have not tested their chosen marketing product against any other types of letters, and therefore, have no data to back up their recommendation. Most Investors Don’t Track Their Results. Typically, investors are not putting as much thought, time or effort into their marketing campaigns as they should.  I understand this is the unsexy part of the REI business but it is also the part that will make or break your business.  Leads are the #1 most important asset to an investor.  Without leads, you can’t make money.  Take for example two investors, each spending $1,000 a month in direct mail and using the same sequence of mailers as each other for the first 4 months.  Investor #1 doesn’t track his results and consistently sends the same sequence of mailers throughout the year. Investor #2 puts in the time to track her results and reviews where deals have been coming from throughout the first 4 months. She then adjusts the next 8 months to only send the mailers that produced the best results during the first 4 months.  Which investor do you think will do more deals in that 1-year span? Investor # 2!  Similarly, if you are not using a mailing company who tracks and has proven results, you are doing your business an injustice. How will you know if you are getting the most out of your marketing dollars? There was a void in the market for better products.  Up until the beginning of this year, there was a huge gap in the direct mail marketing industry. There was nothing that provided consumers with a more creative and unique product. If you wanted to stand out, you had to DIY. And let’s face it, who has time for that? Marketing vendors have been so quick to jump on the yellow letter and/or plain mailer bandwagon that they never stepped back to ensure they were providing the BEST product for their customers.  As a business owner, I understand that it is much easier to create a company that already has a solid customer base rather than trying to create a new product and educate consumers on why your new product is better.  However, as a real estate investor myself, I choose to spend my marketing dollars on the most effective mailers possible.  I have done the testing, tracking and refining and instead of offering another yellow letter spin-off product, I am offering a product that is proven more effective than anything else you’ll find on the market.

So What SHOULD You Look For In A Mailer?

A professional mail piece of higher quality.  You are a serious business owner, so your mailers should convey that.  Sending a quality letter of thicker paper stock with custom letterhead will instill a higher level of trust in your prospects because they can identify your company.  Building rapport with your prospects is a huge component to making deals. “People do business with people they like, know and trust!”  Set the stage with your letters and build that trust from the onset of your mailers. Brand yourself.  One of the key components to marketing is to create brand recognition.  You can do this by exposing prospects to your logo often so they make a connection between your business and your product/service.  Including your logo on all of your letters is important. When your prospect is ready to sell, they will remember YOU and you will be the first one they call. Stand apart from the competition.  One of the best ways to increase your response rate and connect with sellers is to send unique, creative envelopes. How many general marketing letters do you receive on a regular basis, and how many do you actually open? There are certain telltale signs that an envelope is “junk mail”. These are the features we want to avoid. Sending a letter that looks like an invitation, greeting card, or that peaks someone’s interest will give you a major advantage over your competition. Take a step back to think about how you will be perceived.   Before sending out a specific mail piece, think about how your audience will perceive you. Does your mailer set a good first impression; one that is honest, trustworthy, and professional? If your mailer landed in your own mailbox: Would you open in? Would the letter inside make you want to read it? Would you believe that this is a trustworthy and professional business? Would you pick up the phone and call? If you compare yellow letters to ours at Open Letter Marketing, I think your answers to these questions will be very different. Expect more from your mailing company.  I developed Open Letter Marketing as an answer for those of you who desire to stand apart from your competition and get better results. We use the latest marketing techniques and have tested and tracked our mailers to ensure they are keeping you at the top of your marketing game.  Also, because we want to make sure you are getting the best results, we offer the option to “own a territory” which gives you have exclusive rights to your market.  This means no one else in your market would be able to use the OLM products. The result is the most effective and cutting edge mailers on the market today – the new gold-standard in direct mail marketing!

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