In this article, we discuss the main pros and cons of real estate marketing postcards. Then we list the best real estate postcard ideas that really work, followed by decent and poor techniques. For decent techniques, we provide ways to improve them.
We also discuss how much you should expect to pay for real estate farming postcards. In addition, we’ve provided essential tips and advice for your postcard designs and messages. Next comes a note about ethics and the NAR Code. Finally, we list the best tools and resources.
Pros of Real Estate Postcards
- Postcard messages are quick to read.
- They pose a very minor imposition.
- Postcards are cheaper and easier than other direct mail real estate marketing campaigns.
- They are easily displayed (for example on a fridge) or passed along.
- The entire process can be automated by mailing services, so you don’t need to waste time licking stamps or writing addresses.
- Postcards can be highly targeted.
Cons of Real Estate Postcards
- They are less personal than letters.
- They can feel like overt advertising (although we don’t recommend any form of real estate postcards that feel this way).
- Postcards can be less effective than other forms of direct mail marketing.
- Many real estate postcards can go unread.
Real Estate Postcard Ideas: The Great, The Decent, and The Ugly
It would be overreaching to give a cut-and-dry response to all of these real estate postcard ideas. As we show throughout The Decent Ideas section, many of these ideas can be leveraged to much greater effectiveness.
Additionally, certain techniques will work better in different geographical regions. That’s why it’s important to track your marketing strategies and continually evaluate what’s best for you. Another consideration is that every realtor has a different personality, so some strategies will make sense for one agent but not for another.
That said, some strategies are simply excellent across the board. We recommend without reservation our great real estate postcard ideas. We stay open-minded about The Decent Ideas, but encourage you to find ways to improve them. To that end, we’ve given plenty of creative examples. The Ugly Ideas simply aren’t worth your time.
The Great Ideas
Just Sold & Just Listed Postcards
Circle prospecting (developing long term relationships with those in your niche) is amazing. If you plan to use Just Sold and Just Listed postcards as part of your circle prospecting, you should design a postcard specifically for those in that neighborhood.
The postcard should be tailored to that exact neighborhood. In particular, it should mention your recent success. Maybe you sold the listing in record time or for the asking price or better. It’s even better if you have multiple sold listings within the neighborhood or close range. Group them onto a single postcard and extend your hot streak.
Home Anniversary Postcards
I stand behind this kind of outreach 100%. I find thinking-of-you gestures to be wildly effective. Keep it simple and sincere. Employ nostalgia. For example, take a picture with yourself and the buyers/sellers in front of their home, then write “Remember when…” on the card. It’s even better with a handwritten note.
Remember that the buying cycle is every 5-7 years! So it may be smart to send home anniversary cards for the first, third, fifth, sixth, and seventh years.
Customer Appreciation Postcards
Yes and yes. As mentioned in the video, saying thank you is becoming a forgotten mechanism, not to mention a subtle piece of marketing.
To generalize, three major trends in marketing include (1) providing no-strings-attached value, (2) making personal connections, (3) bringing radiant positivity. Gratitude postcards do just those things.
Just be sure you don’t ruin them by asking for referrals. Save that for a different conversation. For now, simply say thanks.
The Decent Ideas (+ How to Make Them Great)
For Sale By Owner Postcards
There’s nothing wrong with this method per se. It simply could be more effective.
How to Make Them Great: Cold calls are better than postcards for FSBO listings. However, you can certainly use the two methods together.
Expired Listing Postcards
My opinion on expired listings is the same as FSBO. There’s no glaring issue with this method, it’s just not particularly inspired or effective.
How to Make Them Great: Again, cold calls are the way to go if you want to tackle expired listings. Postcards should only be used in conjunction with a targeted cold call strategy.
Agent Introduction Postcards
The main issue with this strategy is the subtext. People seek out experienced realtors, and this method paints you as a rookie.
How to Make Them Great: This technique makes sense if your region is hard up for great realtors. Especially if you’re already (1) an experienced realtor that recently relocated or (2) a new realtor that already knows the area intimately, then this could be a decent strategy.
Often realtors include home maintenance tips or updates on seasonal events. To be fair, these can be a great strategy. We included informational postcards in this section because realtors can often leverage them better than they do.
The problem with home maintenance tips is that the advice simply isn’t good enough. Readers glance over it, maybe commit one or two tips to memory, and then throw it away. That’s a missed opportunity.
How to Make it Great: There should be two keys to your strategy. First, get yourself posted on as many refrigerators as possible. Second, create situations where you’ll meet the recipients in person later.
That’s why the idea of the seasonal events postcard can be awesome, especially if you feature events that you will attend or sponsor. For example, you may host a Mini-Pumpkin and Hot Cider Giveaway in October. List that prominently on your seasonal event postcard and create synergy between your marketing techniques.
If you go with the home maintenance tips, make sure your content is enlightening, rather than typical. Consider making them reminders about seasonal home upkeep tasks, like cleaning the gutters in Autumn. Then you might get on their fridge year-round!
Free Offer/CMA Postcards
Free gifts or market reports can be a great strategy. However, postcards are a fairly impersonal way to give a personal gift. In the case of Comparative Market Analyses, it would be better to give them in person so you can answer questions. If you mail CMAs to interested parties, you can’t show how the CMA applies specifically to them.
It’s also best when your offers are truly no-strings-attached. Offering gifts via postcards requires people to call you. There’s a reason rebates are a thing of the past—they are a hassle.
How to Make Them Great: We recommend knocking on doors over postcards for this real estate marketing technique. Take note of the interested households, then send out targeted postcards a week later.
Local Market Postcards
The idea is to establish yourself as an expert while putting your name in their mind. It’s nice in theory, but numbers don’t inspire action. As this New York Times article relates, facts don’t change our minds.
How to Make Them Great: It’s much better to form a personal connection and inspire action through positive emotion. If you’re going to rely on a strategy that uses facts to establish authority and trust, it’s much better to use Just Sold postcards.
“I sold your neighbor’s house for $10,500 above the asking price,” is far more convincing than, “Home listings in your area are up 5% over last year.”
Recipe Real Estate Cards
Again, it’s nice to give a gift. Especially when that gift is truly free. A recipe postcard certainly feels like a no-strings-attached gesture. In those respects, this strategy is well-intentioned. However, it could be improved with a deeper personal connection.
How to Make Them Great: For example, let’s say you bake a phenomenal coffee cake for every open house. Then you put the recipe on prominently displayed postcards next to the cake. That’s a fully developed strategy.
It’s deeply thoughtful and connected to a personal experience. Plus interested home buyers are likely to keep your contact info and even post it on their fridge.
Every time someone asks them about the recipe, they will say, “You know what, my real estate agent gave me that recipe.” Any technique that puts your name on the lips of potential referees is a winning strategy.
The Ugly Ideas
Postcards are way too impersonal to ask for a referral. You should call and promise a gift after the first appointment. Another gift should follow upon closing.
Referrals are your lifeblood, and they should be leveraged as much as possible. However, a thank you postcard for a referral would be acceptable.
Fence Sitter Postcards
These postcards are aimed at homeowners that aren’t sure if they want to sell their house. The limited space of a postcard and impersonal nature makes it a shot in the dark. Targeting fence-sitters and using postcards is simply a bad marriage.
The idea is to convince renters that they should become potential buyers. As with fence-sitting postcards, this technique asks too much of a 4×6” piece of paper. Accordingly it ineffective and a waste of resources.
Circle of Influence Postcards
Imagine if your brother asked you for referrals with a gimmicky postcard. You would think it’s weird, and you’d be right. Your inner circle deserves better.
Like renter postcards and market report postcards, CTA postcards try to inspire people to call you based on some key fact.
It is true, however, that some real estate postcards should include a call to action. The exceptions would include gratitude or happy house-anniversary postcards. You only ruin the gesture by making it feel like a sleazy marketing strategy. It cheapens the word “thank you” instead of using it to brighten someone’s day.
That said, Just Sold or Just Listed postcards should certainly include a polite, friendly call-to-action.
Real Estate Postcard Design Tips
- Consider magnetic postcards instead. These increase your chances of staying permanently on the fridge. If the cost scares you, hand these out sparingly to those who have already shown genuine interest
- Use strong visuals. Focus on design and aesthetics, and pay extra for quality.
- Include your headshot. Ensure you have an excellent, professional headshot. Postcards with a realtor’s face are significantly more effective.
- Include contact information: Definitely include a phone number and email. If there’s space, also include your social media handles and pages.
- Use a call-to-action: You should not always encourage readers to get in touch. Any postcard saying thank you should do that and nothing else.
- Include brokerage information: This is a legal issue. Many states require unsolicited mail to include a return address for the place of business. Check your state before engaging in real estate postcard marketing.
How Much Should You Pay for Real Estate Postcards?
Of course, the cost of real estate postcards varies depending on the order quantity. For example, 1000 postcards might cost around $250, which is 25 cents/piece. A larger order of 10,000 might cost around $750, which is 7.5 cents/piece.
For 2020, the cost of a postcard-rate stamp is 35 cents. In total, 1000 postcards might cost $600 or 60 cents per postcard.
On the other hand, 10,000 postcards might cost $4300 or 43 cents per postcard. Plus you need to factor in the time it takes to address and mail them.
If you use a mailing service, you can expect the cost per postcard to be around 80 cents to one dollar. As a general rule of thumb, you can estimate that 1-2% of recipients will follow a call-to-action and get in touch.
Real Estate Postcards Tools & Resources
- Read the 6 Best Real Estate Postcard Mailing Services if you’d like to automate this marketing technique.
- Prospects PLUS! is a leading provider of customizable real estate postcards and other marketing materials.
- ReaMark and Express Copy also provide a variety of real estate postcard template and messages.
- Breakthrough Broker is our final recommendation for proven real estate marketing materials.
A Note About Ethics
Be aware that the National Association of Realtors code of ethics does not allow real estate agents to solicit of business from buyers or sellers already represented by a realtor. Generally speaking, this applies more to letter-form direct mail techniques. However, it may be smart to include the following fine print:
“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.”
The Bottom Line
Among the traditional real estate marketing techniques, real estate postcards have aged better than others. It’s still a relevant, easy, and affordable way to get 1 of the 5 “touches” or contacts before the average potential client remembers you.
Postcard outreach is a second or third tier marketing strategy. You should never use it to spearhead your marketing campaign. Word of mouth referrals and digital marketing should always be your primary marketing strategies.
Among the many ideas for real estate postcards, we highly recommend these kinds:
- Just Sold
- Just Listed
- Thank You
- House Anniversary
Other real estate postcard ideas can be effective, but you should couch them in a comprehensive marketing strategy. As standalone techniques, they may fall short of expectations.