This guy is killing the direct mail game. How?
Watch this video to see how Jim McCord, best selling author of Revolution in Real Estate, has implemented an efficient, inexpensive way to win more listings with direct mail and how to create and maintain relationships with this one simple strategy.
Here’s how the video breaks down:
1:18 How Jim used his strategies to grow his business
1:47 Amazing response from direct marketing
2:47 Expired listing mail campaign
3:04 Oliver get’s dissed (instant replay)
3:56 “Lumpy mail” for direct listings
4:23 Have you ever had a negative response to sending direct mail?
8:21 Photos of the property that get a response
11:09 Mailing for luxury listings
14:10 Post closing mailings for referrals
15:16 The “dog treat” strategy
18:23 What Jim has learned after sending 8,500 cards
20:52 Super ninja Facebook strategy
How to Sell More Real Estate with Direct Mail – In the Know
[Intro] Welcome to another episode of In The Know. I’m really excited to be talking to Jim McCord, the author of A Revolution in Real Estate. Let’s jump right in.
We’re here at the Coronado Brewing Company, and I’m enjoying an Islander IPA, and my man Jim is drinking a double water straight-up. So, cheers, and welcome. We’ll dive right in.
Just wanna put a quick disclaimer out there that a lot of the stuff in this episode that we’re gonna be talking about is through a system called SendOutCards, which is an MLM. That is not the purpose of this episode. The purpose of this episode is to show you how you can use this awesome marketing system to automate your direct mail.
Oliver Graf: Why don’t you talk to us a little bit about how you developed it, how you came on to these strategies, and then we’ll dive into some of the great strategies that you’ve developed.
Jim McCord: 25 years ago, when I first got licensed, I realized right away, I had a really good mentor in real estate, and he taught me from day one, if you’re not prospecting, you’re not gonna be in business long.
Oliver Graf: Smart man.
Jim McCord: In 2009, a friend of mine introduced me to a company called “Send Out Cards.” When I started SendOutCards, I would snap a picture of them with my phone, of them in front of the house they bought for me, and you’ll see some of the cards when we get into this. The first card they get in the mail’s a picture of them, in front of the house they bought, and on the inside is a thank-you note. And I always include two dozen cookies, 16 brownies. You can include gift cards. When I started doing that for thank-you cards, it was amazing, the response I got. People loved ’em, because it was about them. It’s not about us. You know, as realtors, what most of us do is we’re constantly selling our branding about our company and about us. It’s not about us. We’re not really in the business of selling real estate. We’re in the business of building relationships, and when you send somebody a card with a picture of house they just bought, and they’re in front of that house, they keep it. So that’s how I got into it.
Oliver Graf: That’s going on the mantle, or on the refrigerator. It sounds like you started just doing this as a thank-you gift idea, and then parlayed that into this new strategy that you’ve developed for going out for expired listings, and for sale by owners?
Jim McCord: Exactly.
Oliver Graf: Jim, he takes a lot more of an organic approach, which is really cool. I love the idea of putting the family on the front of the card. I love the idea of the things that you’re doing with your other picture cards. So, let’s jump into the—
Jim McCord: This is like an expired listing. This is an expired listing. The listing expired last night at midnight. I drive by, take a picture of the house, and I change the wording on the front. This one says, “Spectacular home.” And then on the inside, it has some reasons they might wanna consider listing with me. And when I send this, I don’t just send the card, number one, here go ahead, hold this. I don’t print these cards, I don’t stuff ’em, address ’em, stamp ’em or mail ’em. I design these cards on my computer, in a couple minutes, literally two or three minutes, hit send, and the company sends these out. You can send them just the card alone or in an envelope, or I always send ’em in a box like this. There’s two brownies in the box. Card fits right in there. They’re getting all this other stuff that I showed you from all the other realtors, and then they open up a box, and everybody likes opening a box up. They open it up, and they see a picture of their house. Not a picture of Jim McCord, a realtor, not a picture of the logo of my company, but a picture of their house, and there’s two delicious brownies. So, that’s pretty much the system, and that’s how it works.
Oliver Graf: So very cool approach, very nice touch. Great way to differentiate yourself from all the other competition that’s out there. That sparks two questions in my mind. Number one, I’m curious about your conversions, and how that works. And number two, have you ever had a negative response to taking a picture of someone’s house and putting it on a card?
Jim McCord: I have never had a negative response with that, taking the picture of the house and putting it on the card. Now, what I didn’t tell you yet is, three and a half years ago, this system worked so well that I started using it on million-dollar homes. My first 21 years in real estate, I didn’t list one home over $1 million. I never sold one home over $1 million. And I sent two dozen cookies out, in a box with a picture of the expired listing and a card. That seller called me up. He was so impressed, he met with me the next day. He listed with me. He said, “What are you gonna do?” Well, what I do for these luxury listings is, I then take the picture of that listing, and I mail that out to prospective buyer.
Oliver Graf: I love everything that you’re saying. Can we talk a little bit more, circle back to the listing campaign, right, so that step one was hit ’em with that card, picture of their house on the front, send a couple brownies so it comes in lumpy mail, and gets probably more attention than what everybody else is sending out. What happens after that? What do you do to convert the business from there? And, how often are you getting a call straight off that first one?
Jim McCord: I would say, this I can tell you for sure, I love prospecting. I love it. But I’ve never got the kind of response from a first-piece mailing doing anything I did for 25 years like I have with this. It’s still between 10% and 20%, which doesn’t sound high—
Oliver Graf: Which is huge for direct mailing.
Jim McCord: Right, that doesn’t sound high, but it is. But the key with this is, it turns a cold call into a warm call. Now, I actually do quite a bit of drop-offs. The first contact is always a card. Here’s another example. This was that same house, so I don’t send one card to that house, or the first card, this is a picture of the same house, and it says, “We can sell this home.” And then, on the inside, I just did a snippet shot of the three times that house was listed by three different agents, and I put that in the card. I let ’em know, your luxury home needs luxury marketing. But this is a different card, yet it has the same picture, and this came with a different gift. Either brownies, nuts, candy.
Oliver Graf: You know it’s getting opened. Let me talk about this piece, ’cause this is great. Again, it has the picture of the house on the front. On the inside, it has some statistics to show that he knows what he’s doing, to establish credibility with the people, and then he’s got his call to action. It’s very simple. How many cards do you mail to each prospective person?
Jim McCord: I would say, probably it averages two or three. This is a $2.5 million listing in Cincinnati. This listing expired in August. Now, in August in Cincinnati, the grass is green, the trees are green, everything’s beautiful. This is a five-acre horse farm in Cincinnati that expired in August, and look at those trees. They’re barren. The picture was taken in January when the house was listed, and the agent was too lazy, this is the first photo that was used on the MLS, and they didn’t use a drone photo. Drones are huge now. Any property that’s a big property or it has a lot of land needs to have a drone. But people are not gonna, for $2.5 million, they’re not gonna click on that picture, Oliver. So what I focus on with these prospects, this was another listing, I don’t have a drone of their house yet, I can’t legally take one. But I show ’em the photo of a drone of another listing that we got, and sold.
Oliver Graf: And it just captures the property in a completely different way.
Jim McCord: Exactly and I let ’em know in this card, this is the first photo we used for another listing, and I give the address. It’s pending now, we got a cash offer on it. And then on the back, I say when, not if, when we list your property, we’re gonna get a drone up and we’ll mail cards out, and the first photo’s gonna be an aerial photo showing your house, your barn, your swimming pool. When you get in front of ’em and you show ’em that, it just, it works.
Oliver Graf: Especially in the high-end market.
Jim McCord: More often than not, and you probably know this, your agent usually doesn’t even know it’s expiring. If they don’t know, the seller doesn’t know. So I go out and I drop off a packet like this. The first thing is a cover letter, and it’s got a picture of their house. I put a picture of their house, then a short note about us. Your listing expired, your home needs luxury marketing. And then the next thing is the actual MLS sheet, and I highlight it expired. That’s their MLS. Now, this is a $3.75 million home, and look at the first photo that they used.
Oliver Graf: You can’t even see the house.
Jim McCord: Nobody’s gonna click on this picture for $3.75 million.
Oliver Graf: Any tip from this video, it’s don’t put a crappy picture in the MLS, because, as you can see, the difference, especially on a multi-million dollar home, to use a blurry photo sounds like one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.
Jim McCord: And keep in mind, the sellers that I’m going after who expired with a bad first photo, they see all these. This is in their mailbox. And believe me, they’re gonna look at these. These are all just, this was a $3.7 million home. They didn’t even get the whole home. Which picture are you more likely to click on to get more information, if you’re a buyer?
Oliver Graf: Here, it looks like a nice house, here, it looks like a castle.
Jim McCord: Exactly, and those are the exact words that the seller used.
Oliver Graf: Are you hiring a professional to do that?
Jim McCord: Yeah, it costs about 200 bucks for a photographer.
Oliver Graf: So you’d say that’s $200 well spent.
Jim McCord: Even on a $169,000 dollar house, you know, there’s $4,500 commission there on one side. It’s worth spending $200 or $300.
Oliver Graf: It’s definitely worth it, especially when you see what a big difference it can make. Those drone photos look incredible compared to just a regular photo outside of the house.
Jim McCord: Even high-end agents are still taking our own photos. Well, we’re using the company photographer. You wanna get a really good photographer, even for a $200,000 or $300,000 or $400,000 house. And in today’s world, that means everything, because everybody’s looking on that internet and they’re putting those parameters.
Oliver Graf: Totally, it’s all in the presentation, right? So if you can present it better up-front, when you get to make that first impression, I think that’s when you win the click, and that’s when you’re gonna get a lot more traffic to the properties that you’re selling. That shows in terms of number of showings, number of people showing up. It’s open houses and things like that.
Jim McCord: Those luxury listings, I always use the same thing, and it’s always this box right here. It’s two dozen cookies. The card comes like that, it comes in a gift-wrapped box. Hold on to that for me. You open up the gift-wrapped box, and the card is in here, and there’s two dozen cookies, and I’m telling you, they are truly the best cookies I’ve ever tasted.
Oliver Graf: They are delicious, I can vouch for that. We had a couple.
Jim McCord: I don’t care who you are. I’m 60 years old, and I still love opening a box. It’s like Christmas. You get home and you got 10, 20, 30 pieces of mail, if you got a box, you’re gonna go to the box first. You don’t care what’s in it, you just wanna know what’s in it.
Oliver Graf: You’re like a kid on Christmas. Very cool strategy on sending out the lumpy mail. I think that makes a huge difference, ’cause, like you were saying, it stands out in the mailbox. It’s gonna get opened first. It’s not the type of thing that people just grab out of the mailbox and immediately throw in the trash can. You’re standing out. So, at that point you’ve delivered your package. You’ve sent a card. How many cards are you sending before you reach out and make contact?
Jim McCord: I always wait about four or five days. But what I put on my drop letter is, you’ll be receiving a package from me in a couple days. So that’s at the bottom of every drop letter.
Oliver Graf: So you pre-frame the mail that’s coming.
Jim McCord: Exactly, exactly. But what this does, when you send them this kinda, and I’m not exaggerating, I don’t get every listing I go after. But I’ve never once either made a call afterwards or knocked on the door, where they didn’t say, “Jim McCord, you’re the guy that sent me that awesome card in that box of cookies.”
Oliver Graf: So they are making that connection.
Jim McCord: It turns a cold call into a warm call every time.
Oliver Graf: Very cool, I really appreciate you sharing that with us. There’s a lot of other really good strategies in the book. Unfortunately, we don’t have time to cover all of them today. I do wanna talk to you a little bit more about post-closing, right? Because a lot of people say the fortune’s in the followup, and it’s all about the repeat and referral business in real estate. How can you leverage a system like this to automate your followup and help you generate more business from each transaction?
Jim McCord: Every buyer who’s bought a house from me in the last nine years gets a card like this.
Oliver Graf: So this is before they’ve even closed, you’re getting that photo.
Jim McCord: This is during the inspection or the second or third showing. This particular couple loved the view from the deck on this condo, so I took a picture of them on the deck, and they got this thank-you picture of them. This is the front of the condo, which isn’t a great picture, because it had their car, my car. But that’s the buyer and their daughter.
Oliver Graf: Very cool, very personal.
Jim McCord: And it just says “Jim McCord,” and on the front it says, “Thank you.” And they got that card with two dozen cookies, that big box I showed you, and a gift card. A Home Depot gift card for $100. So they’re not gonna throw this card away. I mean, it really works. You can get really creative. Normally I just take a picture like that if the client’s in front of the house. But these clients have bought four or five houses from me over the last ten years. This is a picture of their kids. During the inspection, they have two young children, and they wanted to walk around with the inspector. I said, “I’ll take your kids outside.” Well, the kids found a stick in the yard, and it looked like a wishbone. And I said, “Guys, pick that stick up.” I’m always looking for a reason to send cards. I’m a card-sender. And I knew I was gonna send ’em a thank-you card, so I thought I’d get a picture of their kids pulling that wishbone apart. You can’t read it, but it said, “The kids found a wishbone from a prehistoric animal on the property. Funny, both of them wished for the same thing.” And then you open it up, and it says, “They wished Mom and Dad would buy this house.” And it’s a picture of them on the inside. They got this card with two dozen cookies. Well, she called me up, and she’s just raving about the card and the cookies, and she goes, “Jim, we put the card on our mantle. We love it.” Since then, they’ve bought numerous other houses. They buy investment property, and they always get a card from me.
About two months ago, I was visiting their house. This house, where they live. And their dog followed me out. I thought, you know what, I’ve never sent a picture– –
Oliver Graf: I’d better take a picture of that!
Jim McCord: I never sent their dog a card! So the dog followed me out, and I snapped that picture. The dog’s name is Juno. I sent this card. It says, it’s the thought bubble coming out of Juno, says, “Jim, you act like we’re buddies. You send treats to the owners, but not me.” And on the inside is a note from me to Juno. Sorry it took me so long to send you some treats.” With SendOutCards, you can send dog treats. My clients got this card in a box with dog treats. Michael called me up, just laughing his tail off.
Oliver Graf: Because that’s amazing. Who sends dog treats? Nobody.
Jim McCord: Who are these guys gonna buy houses from? And they have these cards. I’ve sent ’em five or six cards. All my cards are lined up on the mantle of their $800,000 house. So not only do they have ’em, but they have guests over all the time, and I’m sure those guests are picking those cards up.
Oliver Graf: It’s a talking point for the people who come to visit them.
Jim McCord: Exactly, it’s ridiculous. Now I’ll share one or two other ones, if we have time.
Oliver Graf: Sure, yeah.
Jim McCord: Most of the cards that we send at SendOutCards are 5 x 7, like this. But you have the option of sending 8.5 x 11 cards. This couple bought and sold, I would say, ten different large pieces of land with me. This is the farm they lived on.
Oliver Graf: So you can also send giant cards.
Jim McCord: Yeah. This card cost about six bucks. These are $1.17. Way better than any other thank-you gift, and I didn’t realize this for years, either, but Oliver mentioned, you mentioned, it’s so much cheaper, less expensive, getting business from past clients than it is from generating new business. And you can do both, but most realtors are always chasing that next deal. That’s what we do. We’re giving up hundreds of thousands of dollars by not staying in touch with our past clients the right way.
Oliver Graf: That’s the low-hanging fruit. All the big gurus teach you gotta work your database. I think this is a really cool, innovative way to work your database. I think that the way that you’re personalizing each marketing piece makes a big difference. I think it really connects on a deeper level with the people that you’re sending the pieces to. How much, because I’m sure this is a question that everybody’s asking. What’s up, Jay? Jay’s passing cards to the barrels, here. How much are you spending each day, and how many pieces are you sending on a given day, or month? Just to give people an idea of how much of a commitment this is to do versus regular mail, versus not doing it at all.
Jim McCord: Well, what I can tell you is all the money I spent on mass-mailings the first 17, 18 years of my career, I’m lucky if I had a 2% return on investment on that.
Oliver Graf: That’s the spray-and-pray method, right? Just get it on a billboard, or a park bench, or a newspaper ad, and kinda see what happens?
Jim McCord: Since 2009, I’ve sent over 8,500 cards. 8,500 cards at a little over a buck a card is about $9000, and then another 50 cents postage. So that’s another $4000. We’re talking $12,000, $13,000, is that right?
Oliver Graf: Yeah, so it’s less than $200 a month.
Jim McCord: Yeah, like $13,000. Now, I can directly attribute more than $300,000 in real estate commissions, real estate commissions that I’ve made that I wouldn’t have made without sending out cards.
Oliver Graf: Connected directly back to these mail pieces. I think it’s a killer way to grow your own business. I think it’s way more personalized than anything that other people are sending out, and I think that you’re able to make that connection to not only lower their defenses when you’re talking to them on the phone, but also create a better relationship and get more referrals out of the whole deal. So it’s really cool to see how you’ve done that.
Jim McCord: And Oliver, I gotta congratulate you. Jay told me over the phone, and I really didn’t believe it, but he said that Big Block, your company that you and Sam started, is the number one fastest-growing private real estate company in the country. Not San Diego, not California, but in the country.
Oliver Graf: Yes, that’s true.
Jim McCord: Inc. Magazine did that. So I researched that. I thought, oh, Jay, that can’t be true. And it is true. That’s incredible.
Oliver Graf: Thank you.
Jim McCord: And not only is it the number one fastest-growing private real estate company in the country, but of all companies, it’s number 26 fastest growing company. So that’s phenomenal. I have a lot to learn from you guys. Congratulations.
Oliver Graf: Appreciate that, thank you very much.
Jim McCord: In realizing that, I friended Sam, and I friended you on Facebook. And I’m telling you, if you realtors aren’t connecting with people on Facebook and LinkedIn, you’re missing the boat.
Oliver Graf: This is huge, right here.
Jim McCord: Well, and the other thing I’ll say, and I have a video on this, too, search Facebook for realtors. You’re using Facebook the wrong way, in my opinion. The public doesn’t care that you, or me, or Jay, or any realtor listed a big property today. They don’t care that we had two closings today. That looks arrogant. It looks like we’re going after business, and that’s what most realtors are doing. If you wanna create your own real estate page, and invite people to it, that’s great, and that’s a good way to advertise. But putting it on your personal page is the wrong way, and I learned that in a very difficult way about five years ago. I use Facebook the right way. I connect with my prospects. I find out what their interests are, where they work, how many kids they have, and I saw that when I connected with Sam a couple weeks ago, that he just had another baby. A beautiful little girl, and he posted some pictures of Kennedy. I copied that picture of Kennedy, and I put it on my SendOutCards system, and I sent Sam this card. “Congratulations, Kennedy is gorgeous.” And on the inside, just some pictures of Sam and his wife, and their other child. Nothing about real estate, nothing at all about Jim McCord.
Oliver Graf: I just gotta say that this is one of the coolest marketing ideas I have ever heard of. It’s so simple. When you friend people on Facebook, it’s so easy to find so much about them, right? So, he took a picture of baby Kennedy. What’s up, Sam and Jen? Cute baby. And put it on the front of the card, mailed it to him, put pictures of them on vacation, and just hanging out at their wedding, and has a picture of him on it. Now, let just ask do you think that Sam’s ever gonna forget this? Probably not. And so, to get in with people, and really establish a relationship, and show that you care, you can do stuff like this that’s so easy, and so cost-effective. This cost you, what, $1.50?
Jim McCord: $1.17, post postage.
Oliver Graf: $1.17 to make a amazing first impression on someone. Great way to open the door.
Jim McCord: And this took me less than five minutes.
Oliver Graf: Just to touch on SendOutCards real quick. It’s a really cool service. We use it ourselves at Big Block. We use it for our recruiting, and to send our agents mail pieces. We really like it. Jay, if you wanna come on over here? Jay is one of our agents. He’s one of the people that helped us get set up on it. If you have any interest in learning more about it, just to implement it into your own business, we’ll have all of Jay’s info in the comments below, and on the page. Reach out, and let us know if you have any other questions. Along with using SendOutCards in your business, which we highly recommend, I also wanna give Jim a plug on his book. It’s a really great book. It outlines all of the stuff we’ve talked about today in great detail. It’s a number one bestseller, and I highly encourage you to pick it up. Where can they pick it up?
Jim McCord: You can get that on amazon.com for $9.95, and before you buy it, you can click on “Preview this book” and you read the first two chapters. I’d suggest you do that, and read the reviews of the book. If you like it, get it.
Oliver Graf: For 10 bucks, honestly, it’s a no-brainer. It’s a short, quick read with examples of all the cards he uses. All of the campaigns, how to get more referrals, how to get more expired listings, FSBOs, all that kind of stuff. It’s a great resource, and I highly recommend you putting it on your tool belt. And now you’re in the know.
To reach Jay Korsmo, contact him at (619) 972-5130
To get your copy of A Revolution in Real Estate, visit:
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Co-Founder/President Big Block Realty & REAT
Inc. 500 Entrepreneur