Updated October 2022
Since you’re reading this article, it’s likely you already know that postcards (and direct mail in general) are an effective way to generate brand recognition and leads. They also have some unique benefits that make them an excellent choice if you are just starting to experiment with direct mail marketing:
- Postcards don’t use envelopes, so your message is immediately accessible to everyone who comes in contact with it.
- They’re predominantly a visual medium, often designed with images that capture people’s attention.
- They’re compact, which makes them easy to save with a magnet on a refrigerator door, in a datebook, or in a handbag.
- They’re affordable for even the smallest businesses, which removes any economic barriers to being consistent with your mailings.
- They’re highly versatile when it comes to the types of useful information you can include on them.
What postcards won’t do is give you a quick fix to your lead-generation woes—marketing just doesn’t work that way. It takes time to develop brand awareness and consumer trust, and for that, you need to find multiple ways to remain consistently in front of your target market.
Farming is one way you can enhance your brand’s awareness. (Check out this article to discover the three types of farming that work best for real estate agents, and find out what makes for outstanding farming postcards.) Another way is to add regularly scheduled postcard mailings to your marketing mix. Both are exceptionally easy ways to help ensure you maintain regular contact with prospective and current clients.
7 postcard designs every agent needs
Postcards can satisfy a variety of an agent’s marketing needs, but there are real estate postcard designs that meet seven of these needs especially well. These designs support essential marketing messages that are communicated well with only a few words and eye-catching images.
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1. Agent introduction
In real estate, you are your brand, and an agent introduction postcard with your image and logo is an easy way to boost your brand’s recognition. Use this type of postcard during the first year after joining a new office, if you’ve relocated your business, when farming in your current market, and when trying to expand your market.
You want this postcard to have an upbeat and optimistic feel. Find a way to include your unique selling point or value proposition so prospective clients will know what makes you different from other agents.
2. Just listed/sold
Just Listed postcards are a staple of real estate marketing. They let prospective buyers know a property is available. Just Sold postcards are a way to publicize that you’ve recently sold a property in the neighborhood and that you could do the same for others.
Additionally, Just Sold postcards are ideally suited to circle prospecting, which is the practice of sending a postcard or other media to homes in the area closely surrounding the newly listed or sold home.
You should send these postcards every time you acquire or sell a listing, so make mailing them a routine part of your process. The more often you are seen in the context of a sale, the more people will recognize you as the agent who gets things done—and the agent who can do the same for them.
3. Targeted mailing
As the name of this postcard design suggests, these are mailed to a deliberately selected group of recipients.
- FSBOs: Every time you see a homeowner trying to sell their own home, you know there’s a homeowner who can use your expert help. You should mention the problems FSBOs present to homeowners, but spend the bulk of your messaging explaining how you can help.
- Expired listings: Here’s a homeowner who is feeling the stress and strain of trying to sell a home. Expired listings are leads just waiting to be claimed, and if you can empathize with their frustration and explain how you’ll resolve their pain, you’ll have a new client.
- Prime demographics: Seniors, new parents, divorced couples—these are groups whose demographic status suggests they may be prime candidates for a move. Your postcards should address the specific needs of each group and offer a reason for them to believe you are the one who can fill their needs.
- Rentals: Given the current market, it’s not surprising that deciding whether to buy or rent is more complicated than it used to be. Still, some renters want to be homeowners—they just don’t know if they can afford it, and, if they can, whether it’s a good idea to buy now. Sending postcards to rental communities in or close to your farm that promise to help resolve this dilemma might be enough to have a few curious prospects give you a call. And if it turns out now is not the time, you can continue to nurture these leads until the time is right.
4. The 3 Es
The six real estate postcard designs described above share one important feature—they’re all about business—and that’s the way it should be. However, if all you do is consistently send information about you and your business, then unless your recipients are ready to buy or sell when your postcard arrives, you’re missing an opportunity to engage them about ideas they care about now.
That’s why the seventh type of postcard design is the one we call The 3 Es.
These are value-driven postcard designs that are educational, entertaining, or endearing but aren’t a pitch for business. They work to keep your brand in front of your audience, offer useful information, promote you as the subject matter expert in your area, and build relationships that aren’t solely about transactions.
- Buyer and seller tips: Educational postcards with tips for buyers and sellers—and there are hundreds of tips to choose from—could produce a quick payoff if they arrive in the right mailbox at the right time with the right message.
- Holiday fun: The traditional holidays are always an opportune time to reach out to your entire sphere, but you might also think about reaching out and recognizing less-celebrated special occasions like back to school, the first day of a new season, or a month with a blue moon. You need to time the arrival of these cards, so check your calendar and plan appropriately.
- Schedules: Local pro or amateur sporting events; local festivals, plays, and concerts; and school calendars for districts within your farm can be perfect additions to refrigerator doors. These postcards are daily opportunities to keep your name, face, and contact information within reach.
- Home improvement: DIY postcard designs, improvements with high ROIs, seasonally appropriate repairs, and postcards that list local home-repair and home-improvement businesses you can partner with are postcards recipients will find valuable and keep.
- Community events: Postcard designs that advertise volunteer opportunities, local events you are sponsoring, holiday activities, restaurant week, and any other community-oriented events and information position you as the go-to person who’s connected to the what’s happening in the area.
Geographic farming is a term I appreciate because it is a perfect metaphor for real estate postcard marketing. Like traditional farming—where farmers sow their seeds, tend to the land, and eventually reap what they’ve grown—agents disseminate their postcards, nurture their sphere with follow-up calls and other marketing, and, if they remain top of mind and the need to buy or sell arises, convert prospects into clients.
Market updates are among the postcard designs best suited to farming. Like the sports schedule you send every season, a quarterly market update is a postcard design that your recipients will soon start to expect, which is great news for you. It means you are likely to be top of mind during that anticipatory period. And each time your market updates arrive as scheduled, you become more familiar and more trusted.
For the best tips on how to ensure your farming campaign produces lucrative leads, check out this blog.
6. Request for referrals
The best leads are those referred to you by past clients.
First, they tend to be warmer leads.
Second, they require very little, if any, additional expenditure.
Third, referred leads already possess a degree of trust. The thinking is if their friend, colleague, or family member referred you, then you must be good.
Finally, referred leads tend to convert at a higher percentage than cold leads.
You always want to ask for a referral as soon as you’ve closed a deal, but a reminder every six months is a way to reach clients who may not have had a name for you when you first asked. A little reminder with a follow-up call 24 hours after postcards arrive is sometimes all it takes to get that next lead.
7. Open house
Postcard designs that advertise open houses will attract different types of prospects—those who are actively looking for a home and those who may be at the beginning stages of buying a home and are looking at neighborhoods. They’ll also attract people who are simply curious.
For the first two groups, ensure that your postcard has a warm feel. It is, essentially, an invitation to view a property, so be gracious in your invitation. Include the address, date, time, and perhaps a thumbnail picture of the location. Buyers will hang your invitation on their refrigerators and add the details to their calendars.
Those who are just curious will often come from the immediate area and aren’t necessarily prospects, but that’s okay because neighbors who visit your open houses can be great volunteer marketers. They can talk up the neighborhood and answer questions from other visitors. Identify these guests on your sign-in sheet, and send each of them a thank you card as a way of making a good impression for potential future business.
Critical elements to include on your postcards
When it comes to postcards, size does matter. Larger sizes will allow for more information to be included on your cards and will help them stand out. Also, in our collective conscious, bigger is usually better—better service, better quality, better agent.
You want to use the space on your card judiciously and in a way that promotes your goal. If, for example, you’re sending a Just Listed postcard design, then the bulk of the space should be used for beautiful images of the home.
However, be wary of trying to include too much information on your cards. Include just enough to entice your recipients to comply with your call to action—the first critical element to include on all your postcards.
Call to action
Your call to action, or CTA, is a simple statement that tells your recipients the one action you want them to take. I know you’ll think your CTA is obvious, but don’t assume they will know. Placing a phone number on a postcard is not the same thing as telling them to call you for an appointment.
This includes all the usual suspects—your name, contact information, website, and logo.
Social media links
Prospective clients are going to want to check you out before contacting you. If they don’t immediately head to your website, they’ll look to your social media pages.
You want to be able to measure how effective your postcards are in providing you with lucrative leads (not just responses), and, to do that, you need a way to track them. You have several options:
Use a service that will assign unique call-tracking phone numbers to elements of your postcard campaigns. It’s an exceptionally affordable way to follow what’s working and what isn’t. You can have different tracking numbers for different mailing lists and postcard designs that, when called, will forward calls to your business line. Providers of tracking numbers will report the number of callers using each number, and some will record the calls for you. (The recordings can be used as a valuable training tool.)
Create a separate landing page with a unique URL for each postcard campaign. When people click on the pages, you’ll know from which campaign the lead originated. QR codes can have these pages encoded into them.
Print a tracking code on your postcards. When a prospect calls, you can instruct your front desk to ask for the number printed on the caller’s card, which is more accurate and easier than asking them to describe the postcard they received.
Use a promo code that can be entered into a form in exchange for a comparative marketing analysis (CMA) or another valuable service.
NAR ethics disclosure
In their Code of Ethics, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) forbids REALTORS® from soliciting business from buyers or sellers who are already exclusively represented by another REALTOR®. When sending large numbers of postcards, you’ll likely mistakenly send some to homeowners who already have agents. To avoid accusations of malicious intent, you might consider including (in very small print) some version of the following disclaimer: “If your property is currently listed with a REALTOR® and/or you are currently represented exclusively as a buyer by a REALTOR, please disregard this notice. It is not our intention to solicit the offerings of other brokers.”
Planning your postcard campaigns
Marketing is a strategic game, which means you need to have goals, a target market, a budget, and KPIs.
1. Set your goal
Yogi Berra is credited with saying that if you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up somewhere else, which is why you need to begin planning your postcard campaign with your goal in mind. Without a goal, each decision you make along the way is as arbitrary as the next, and while you’ll end up somewhere, it likely won’t be where you were headed.
When selecting a goal, it’s a good idea to make it a SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. An example could be: generate five new leads from sending 500 postcards over the next two weeks.
2. Pick your target audience
Next, you want to determine to whom you are going to send your postcards. Where are your five new leads going to come from?
Will you farm a zip code?
Do you want to target renters?
Are you interested in grabbing expired listings?
Decide on your target audience, and refine your SMART goal by adding your audience to it.
3. Determine your budget
As mentioned above, postcards are generally affordably priced, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a budget for them. Ideally, you should set your budget at the beginning of your year so that you know how much you have allocated to each marketing medium.
We have recorded a free webinar that explains some key considerations when developing your annual budget. Accompanying the webinar is a Real Estate Leads Calculator—a downloadable worksheet that reverse engineers your desired GCI to find the number of leads you’ll need to reach your desired goal. Finally, to further help you develop a realistic marketing budget, we offer a free success guide, “How to Develop a Marketing Plan.”
In reviewing these resources and determining your marketing spend, you might want to consider what Luke Acree, our president at ReminderMedia, has often referred to as “leading with revenue.” He advises the entrepreneurs and small business owners he coaches to not spend money unless they’re making money and to not spend more money unless it’s going to make them more money.
4. Select your postcard design
Your design should support your goal. You can review the seven designs described above to help you get started. Once you have a design, the next question to consider is whether to go it alone, find a website, and download the template you need to complete or get the help of a professional real estate marketing team at a professional real estate marketing company.
Of course, I recommend the latter, and that you take a look at what we have to offer.
5. Test, test, test
Using any of the tracking methods discussed above, test how well your postcard achieves your goal.
You can test the color scheme, the message, the arrangement of information, the CTA, the size—every aspect of your card that can be changed can be tested. You can also test your card against different segments of your database to see which performs best with which segment.
You can perform a simple A/B or split test or a more complicated multivariate test. An A/B test evaluates one feature at a time while the second, as the name implies, allows you to test numerous features at once.
6. Run your campaign, and measure the results
If you’re not going to run tests and track the results, then you’re at risk of throwing good money after bad because you won’t know what works and what should be modified.
Testing requires that you have past data to which you can compare current results. If you don’t have a comparison set, then now is the time to start collecting what you need. Consider the value of collecting data that will answer these questions:
- Did your previous campaign lose money?
- Did you have a low response rate?
- Did you have a low conversion rate despite a high response rate?
Options for your postcard campaigns
I threw in a little teaser above to check out the postcards ReminderMedia offers, but, in all seriousness, you’re a real estate agent; you’re not a professional marketer nor do you want to be.
You’re busy running your business and serving your clients—do you really have time to find templates and design postcards?
And with all the dos and don’ts inherent in marketing (and real estate marketing in particular), why wouldn’t you simply hand the job over to someone who knows what they’re doing so that you can spend more time with your clients?
We’ve got nearly two decades of experience working with real estate agents.
We have a large selection of print-on-demand designs, but our meticulous designers will also work with you to create custom cards to fulfill your special needs.
Best of all, our clients love us, and they love our products.
You can order a single postcard, but we recommend trying an 8×8 campaign. We’ve specially selected eight postcard designs to include a mix of education, entertainment, and brand promotion. It’s an exceptionally effective combination to get your brand out there fast and in a way that sticks. (Want proof? Check out this TikTok video. It’ll blow your mind.) Select this option, and we’ll automatically deliver one postcard every week for eight weeks.
And if you don’t have a mailing list, that’s okay—we’ve got you covered with our targeted mailing lists.
Finally, regardless of whether you use one of our postcards or someone else’s, don’t expect your postcards to do all the work for you. The best thing you can do to enhance the effectiveness of your campaigns is to follow up with a phone call to your recipients. You could even make follow-up calls a variable that you test. (I promise—postcards followed up with a call will perform better.)