MODULE 7: Mailers

Do you know who Susan Boyle is?

Maybe the name sounds familiar but you can’t place it.  Here’s her story…

April 11, 2009 was a date that Susan Boyle will never forget.  It was the day her life changed forever.

48 years before that day Susan Boyle was born. She was the youngest in her family of four brothers and five sisters.  During her birth she was deprived of oxygen and was diagnosed with a learning disability that followed her into adulthood.

Susan had always been drawn to singing.  She took lessons with a vocal coach, attended an acting school and sang for her parish church.

Her father passed away in the 90s and all of her siblings had left home.  Susan was left to care for her aging mother as she pursued her interest of singing.  She won several local singing competitions and even considered trying out for Britain’s X Factor TV show.  Believing people were being selected based on their looks she ultimately abandoned the audition.

Her mother passed away at age 91 in 2007 leaving Susan devastated with a neighbor reporting that Susan “wouldn’t come out for three or four days or answer the door or phone”.

Prior to her mother’s death, she encouraged Susan to try out for Britain’s Got Talent.  Her vocal coach continued to encourage the idea after her mother had passed.  Motivated to pay tribute to her mother Susan agreed to audition.  

On April 11, 2009 Susan sang for the first time in public since her mother’s passing on the Britain’s Got Talent stage with a total viewing audience of over 10 million viewers.  If you haven’t seen it you need to watch it:

After Susan’s performance on Britain’s Got Talent her world turned upside down.

She released her first album I Dreamed a Dream in November 2009 selling faster than any other album in UK history with 411,820 copies in the first week.  When the album was released in the United States it sold 701,000 copies in it’s first week ultimately selling 3,104,000 copies coming in second for the most number of albums sold behind Taylor Swift’s Fearless.

Susan went on to release 7 total albums and has an estimated net worth of £22 million as of April 2012.

Oh, and that learning disability she was diagnosed with due to the lack of oxygen during a complication at birth was incorrect.  She was told in 2012 that she had been misdiagnosed.  She has since been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome with a higher than average IQ.

Source: Wikipedia

Emotional Impact

What was it that led to Susan Boyle’s meteoric rise to fame and fortune?

The emotional connection we had to her story.  This “older” and not-super-attractive woman with a learning disability walked on stage and most people likely thought she would be laughed off stage.  But then she shocked the world with her beautiful voice being “discovered” by the world in a single moment.

We can all relate to Susan’s story in some way.  Not feeling good enough.  Wondering what people may think of us.  Hoping we may one day be “discovered” for our unique skills or talents.  When we met Susan Boyle we had the opportunity to encourage her success.  And we did!

Connecting Emotionally

There are two parts of your mail program you must include to create maximum impact.  The first is emotion.

You must connect emotionally.

But how?

Believe it or not you already know.  Have you ever, purposely, pushed someone’s buttons?  To create some response you wanted…whether positive or negative.  Don’t worry about it, no one is judging you – we’ve all done it.

Well, the same ideas apply when trying to connect emotionally with your database.  You need to push their buttons.  Here are some ways to do just that, according to science (source:

  • Anger
  • Disgust
  • Embaressment
  • Awe

All of these methods have one thing in common…surprise.

Surprise is a key element in eliciting an emotional response.  That’s what caused us all to respond in such an emotional way when hearing Susan Boyle on stage singing I Dreamed a Dream.  It surprised us!

In the last module, Top of Mind, stories were used to create engaging email content that encourages a response.  Well, the same holds true with your mail program.  We need to use stories to connect with and elicit an emotional response.

Here are some stories you can tell to connect with your database emotionally:

  • What’s going on in your life?
    • Successes
    • Failures
    • Overcoming Obstacles
    • Current Challenges
  • What’s going on in the lives of your clients? (with permission)
  • Connect a big news event to something you want to share.
    • Utilize the media to grab the attention and spin a topic into something you want to feature, promote or share.
  • Encourage a donation or volunteer opportunity for someone in need.
  • How you’ve recently helped someone buy or sell a home that was unique, challenging or up-lifting.

Utilize the same strategy used when crafting an engaging email as you do here in your mail program.  Don’t forget the element of surprise when writing your story.

Writing is challenging and it takes time to develop this skill.  But it is a skill that can be developed through consistency.

For additional tips on writing emotional content to connect with your readers you might want to check out The Art of Character by David Corbett.

People make decisions emotionally and then justify them with logic.

Think about a recent decision you’ve made.  Consider whether the decision was made emotionally or logically.  80-90% of the time it will be an emotional decision.

But you are probably already defending your decision in your head with logic.  And that’s exactly what we do.

Our Tesla Story

Scott loves technology.  He went to  college for computer science but ultimately decided that a career in computers was not the path he wanted.  It was more of a hobby and not something he wanted to ruin by being required to do it as part of a job.

Scott is always dabbling with technology whether at home or on the job.  He is always checking out the latest technology news to see what the newest thing will be.

During a typical review of technology news Scott saw an article about a new fully-electric sports car being released.  It was around 2010.  At this time hardly anyone had heard of Tesla, but this was their first car…the roadster.

Scott continued to follow Tesla in his news and in 2012 they released the Model S.  Unlike the roadster the Model S was going to be a production vehicle that would be produced on a much larger scale than the roadster.  They had some production delays but the technology in this car was amazing compared to other cars on the road.  A 17″ touchscreen, over-the-air software updates (like your smartphone), requiring no gas…none!

It was a little over a year later that Scott persuaded Marla to go to the Tesla store (inside a local mall) to go and check them out.  To be clear, Scott did not want to buy.  These cars were pricey!  He just wanted to go and check out this new technologically advanced car.

We drove down to the mall and inquired about test driving one.  Unlike a typical car dealership they had an Apple store-like setup.  Just one car on display for you to get in and check it out.  Test driving one of the cars required making an appointment…but we got lucky!  They had a free appointment in just 15 minutes.

They took us out to the mall parking garage where we hopped in the beautiful Tesla Model S.  Wow!  We were impressed.  We had never seen a car anything like this.  The 17″ touchscreen and another LCD screen on the dash that could be completely customized to show whatever you wanted (navigation, music, temperature control, battery consumption, etc.).  The guy showing us the car spent the next 20 minutes showing us all of the features in the car.  He explained that the car had very few consumables since it was 100% electric.  No gas, no oil, long-lasting brakes (due to regenerative breaking).  The motor was simpler, more powerful and quicker to react than gasoline engines.

We hadn’t even left the parking lot yet and Marla and I looked at one another with that look…we’ve got to get one of these!

We took the car for a drive and it was a blast.

We pulled back into the mall parking lot, got back in our car and headed home…disappointed.  Our car felt like we had gone back in a time machine 20 years.  We had a tiny little navigation screen, sluggish response and had to go fill it up with gas…how annoying!

We went home and “crunched the numbers”.  But our decision was already made.  We both knew we were going to buy this car, but now we had to justify it.

Look at how much we will save on gas!
And no oil changes.
So few moving parts that would need replacing.
Electric engines can last a very very long time.
Brakes wont need to be replaced as often.
Amazing warranty that covers nearly everything!
We can drive it forever!

We had made an emotional decision and then defended that decision logically eventually convincing ourselves it was a smart decision.  So we bought a brand new Model S designing everything specific to us – paint color, seat colors, satellite radio, etc.  And about 4 months later we took delivery.

Logical Appeal

Did we make a good decision?

Well it depends on how you define “good”.  If we are talking about whether it was a good financial decision (you know…no gas, no oil changes, etc.) the answer is NO!  Definitely not.  That car is pricey and no amount of gas or oil change savings will make up for that price tag.

Have we enjoyed the car?  Yes, for sure.

But that’s what we all do…and what we must do when we communicate with our database via mail.  We must appeal to their logical side.

We do this by providing proof.  Proof that they made a good decision.  Proof that we are someone they should refer.  Proof that they should work with you again the next time.

Here are some ways to provide proof when mailing to your clients:

  • Industry statistics (appreciation, home values, etc.)
  • Local industry statistics
  • Client-based statistics (home values, neighborhood data, etc)
  • Economic forecasts (based on data)
  • Neighborhood information (events, resources, etc.)
  • Success story (of someone you helped buy or sell a home)

You will appeal to logic with facts, figures, numbers, and data.  But it doesn’t have to be dry or boring.  It can be exciting, interesting or relevant.  A good analogy or story can really help people connect with facts and figures, too.

The frequency of your mail program is based on what you can commit to do ongoing.  Just like anything you put in place within your Customer Loyalty Program the first consideration should always be consistency.

If you can not do it consistently, then don’t do it at all.  It is better to mail twice a year than to do it monthly for 2 months and then not again for another 4 months.

The goal will be to get to a point where you consistently mail to your database once a month.  If that takes you two years, so be it.  Start with a bi-annual mailer, then move to quarterly and eventually monthly.

How to Mail

You can send letters, newsletters, postcards, or notes.  The method does not matter too much other than making sure it contains the content necessary to connect to the heart and appeal to the brain.

When you mail send via first-class mail with return service requested.  Most junk/bulk mail is sent presorted standard and is considered a lower priority than first-class mail – delaying delivery.  Some people actually sort their mail based on the postage used to send it (that’s what we do).

There is another bucket called presorted first-class.  This is for those that send bulk mail (500+ mailers at one time) that can reduce the cost.

Postcards can also reduce the cost of mailing.

Source: USPS

Whichever method of sending mail you choose it is important to have return service.  Adding this will allow you to be notified if the address you mailed them at is no longer their address – either due to forwarding or no longer residing there.  

Being notified of their forwarding address, if they have one or that they are no longer at the previous address will indicate to you that they may have used another agent to sell or buy.

But don’t make assumptions…call.  Find out what happened and see if you can assist them in some way.

You never know, they may have had a not-so-great experience with another real estate professional that will allow you to shine in comparison, especially since you  are personally reaching out to generate referral opportunities and repeat business down the road.

Mail program Suggestions

Your Customer Loyalty Program is yours.  The more personalized you make your program the better the results you will get.  With that said, sometimes we just need to take an idea and go with it until we have time to tweak it over time.

Here are a few suggestions to get your mail program up and running based on the information in this module:

Set yourself up for success! Plan out your next 3 to 4 mailers so you don’t have to think about it.

And be sure to set a reminder in your calendar or CRM a few months ahead of your last one to create the next set of mailers to go out.

Would you rather have a set it and forget it mail campaign?

Whether you don’t have the time or just don’t want to create a mail piece to send to your database there are some companies out there to help you.  Here are a couple we have found to be the lowest cost, yet effective mail strategies: