Tips from the world’s top copywriters that’ll make your real estate copywriting stand out from the masses.
Hordes of people left-and-right are now bumping shoulders among you and are trying to get to the same sellers — all screaming the same thing at the top of their lungs: “I can buy your house fast for cash!!!”
With more options on the table for sellers and more investors in the scene, our efforts are becoming harder. So, what do we do in this populated market where our prospects are well aware of our message?
The answer is right in your market.
There’s a plethora of advice on how to stand out from the masses. But in this article, I look to the copywriting giants for help.
So, the following advice is taken straight from the methods and teachings of great and famous copywriters like Gary Halbert, Dan Kennedy, Gary Bencivenga, John Caples, David Ogilvy, and Robert Collier… names that have had huge impact on today’s marketing methods and even Carrot’s own content.
The problem with REI marketing
If you Google, “direct mail real estate investors,” you’ll get a host of articles and forum advice on how to get started with direct mail (DM). But who in their right mind would read through every one of those Bigger Pocket’s articles and forum topics? This guy did 😊
When I first wandered into direct mail (before I was aware of copywriting and direct response), I implemented all the advice I gathered from the forums. I even used a famous coach’s DM method exactly as he recommended.
After tens of thousands of dollars spent, and hundreds of calls, I got ZERO deals out of it, and maybe two motivated sellers… and yes, I did follow up relentlessly and yes, I did send mail for 7 months.
But I wasn’t alone in this. I asked many investors in my location, and I quickly found out that the volume to obtain consistent deals in my area is massive and very few are successful with it.
What was the problem?
Fast forward to today, now being a young-schooled copywriter, following the masters of the past, and putting my knowledge to the test with Carrot as a professional copywriter, I realized an important thing… the advice given by coaches/gurus and forums in Biggerpockets is completely contrary to the advice of copywriting and direct mail masters; guys like Dan Kennedy, Eugene Schwartz, Bob Bly, and Robert Collier who all devoted their lives to “sales on paper” and squeezing as much money out of every marketing dollar.
Here’s the difference I found:
World’s Top Copywriters say:
- Create a laser-focused list and keep narrowing down that list.
- Research and study that market relentlessly. Get in their minds. Find out what makes them tick, what their fears are, their desires, etc… Find out what their main problem is.
- Create copy that focuses on them and their problem, agitate their problem, then give your solution.
Real Estate investors say:
- Get a list of absentee owners with equity.
- Send a simple letter saying, “Hi, my name is… and I want to buy your house at….”
Here’s the good thing about direct mail in real estate investing: with one deal, you can generate $20,000. So, a .02% response doesn’t really matter if you have the budget for massive volume while still generating a decent ROI.
Here’s the bad thing about DM in real estate investing: A .02% response can get you broke fast in a crowded market where the customer is well aware of your service.
The reality is, if you’re advertising in a crowded market and you’re doing what everyone else is doing… then your prospects are getting the same message from multiple people.
At this point… your success is determined SOLELY on luck.
Let’s do better.
Let’s rise above the masses by learning from the pros who devote their entire lives to what we’re talking about.
Here are 3 things you can do to improve your marketing message by just looking at your audience.
Real Estate Copywriting Tip #1: Audience Comes First
“Tell me about my crabgrass, not your weed killer.”
Features VS. Benefits
Your prospects need the utmost attention from you. So, stop talking about what you have and start talking about THEM and their problems.
Every time your message says something along the lines of “I want to buy your house,” all it says to your prospect is “me, me, me, me!”
This message only has what’s called a “feature” in your product. And listing a feature right off the bat doesn’t grab attention.
Now don’t get me wrong, this can work and has worked in a market where your service is brand new and not really heard of. But things are heating up and there are tons of new investors and more options to sellers.
Instead of talking about your features, re-write them in a different way that places the sellers in the middle: This is called a “benefit.”
Here are some examples of Features vs. Benefits taken from Bob Bly’s “The Online Copywriter’s Handbook,” selling an alarm clock:
- a) Large illuminated digital display
- b) Snooze alarm switch
- c) Digital alarm
- a) Time is easy to see at a glance—even at night.
- b) Tired? Just hit a button for 10 more minutes of sleep.
- c) Alarm wakes you at precisely the right time
See how Bob changed a simple, boring alarm clock feature into a customer focused benefit? This can be done with any product or service. Take for example the features we use as house buyers, rewritten as a benefit:
- a) All-cash offer
- b) Fast close
- c) No hassle
- a) No more hoping and wondering if you have a sale — A guaranteed sale with one offer.
- b) In 5 days you can wave goodbye to your troublesome house and stressful situation.
- c) You’ll literally never have to leave your couch until you sell your house.
Here’s an excerpt from one of my blog articles listing benefits of selling to a buyer…
“You can have your home sold in 1 week to a buyer today.
- Get the assurance your house is sold and never risk the mobile sitting for months just losing money.
- Never deal with headache buyers who are just flakey and disappoint you
- Never deal with the agent calling you saying, “only one person showed up to the open house today and they weren’t interested”.
- Never deal with the realization, months after, that you listed the house for $10,000 more than it should’ve (it’s happened to me and it’s not a good feeling).
- Pay nothing out of pocket
- Never deal with picky buyers (they don’t like the paint color, or the floor, or they wanted a new a/c, etc.)
- Sell your property as-is (bugs in all, investors usually take it)”
Focus on the problems
Other than listing benefits in the message, you should also be agitating the central problem of your prospects.
- If you sell a plumbing service, talk about what mold can do when it builds up due to a leaky water pipe.
- Or, if you sell a roofing service talk about what a complete roof replacement costs if you wait until the planks get rotted out.
- And, if you sell a house-buying-service, talk about how a foreclosed home due to tax delinquency can mean 7 years of ruined credit, losing all your equity in the property, and the embarrassment of losing a house.
The key to all this is to add emotion.
Features like “Cash-offer” and “Fast close” don’t trigger any emotion. But benefits that solve a problem and storytelling of emotional real-estate problems can pack an emotional punch.
The famous negotiator, Jim Camp, once said, “you’re always safe when you’re in the customer’s world.” Meaning? Always go back to the market. Find out what they want, who they are, what they like, what they need, and what they desire and you’ll be better off than most.
As the marketing giant Dan Kennedy has said in the “Ultimate Sales Letter,” “The goal is understanding. To persuade someone, to motivate someone, to sell someone, you really need to understand that person.”
If you get this part right, it doesn’t matter how bad the rest is, you’ll do fine.
But how do we find out what our market wants?
Here’s an excerpt from one of my blog articles listing problems that communicate emotions…
you have another mortgage to pay
have no money to pay that rent space
having medical issue and need to move ASAP
need to move out of area for another job you just got
need to pay debt that keeps piling up
need to move in a week for whatever reason…
Than, that offer that’s less that what you expected is much better than paying all that money out of pocket AND suffering through all the pain of staying in the house.”
Real Estate Copywriting Tip #2: Research, Research, Research
“If I have 4 hours to chop a tree, I’ll spend 3 hours sharpening my ax!”
The top copywriters spend hours researching their audience, profiling them, and diagnosing them. To them, this part is THE most important part of marketing. Exploring and getting in the minds of your sellers is a must.
But how do you do this?
The best way is to talk to motivated sellers. If possible, talk to your previous sellers. Or go out door to door knocking and spend time being face to face with them. In other words, spend time with the market.
A good tip given by Ben Settle (you can listen to the Carrot Cast with him here) is to spend some time on forums and articles and read comments directly from some people right in your market.
Copywriters like Ben Settle also take time to find out who their audience is in terms of political affiliation, age, gender, race, tv show interests, hobbies, etc.
The bottom line is you must find out what they truly desire, what they fear, and what they really want. A “cash-offer” is not what they really want. What they may truly want is security, or they truly fear a complete loss of equity, or ruined credit from foreclosure, or they want convenience and not to deal with anything else, or to move forward with life away from their stress — in other words, get into the mind of the seller.
The Hidden Benefit
Ted Nicholas (sold over $200 million worth of “how-to” books using direct-response ads in magazines, letters, and newspapers) discusses the importance of emphasizing what he calls, the “hidden benefit.” It’s not the obvious benefit, nor is it the first benefit you think of, but the most profound benefit to your prospects.
Let me illustrate this by telling a story from Dan Kennedy’s book, “The Ultimate Sales Letter.”
He describes how he had to come up with a marketing campaign for a presentation called, “How to recruit more insurance agents under you.” He spent a lot of time amid these insurance agents.
One day he was listening in on a conversation between two agents and noted that they had A LOT of interest in golf. Most of the time they were talking about golf, not recruiting… thus a marketing message was born.
His new message to the insurance agents? “Puts Recruiting on Auto-Pilot, So That You Can Go Play Golf!”
That’s genius! What these insurance agents really wanted was NOT just to recruit. It’s to have more time to golf. Recruiting wasn’t their true desire. He asked, “Why do they want to recruit? What do they really want?” It’s to have the ability to make money while doing what they love to do: golf.
Getting to what your prospect really wants is key.
But that’s easier said than done if you don’t know who your prospects are, where they’re at, and what they TRULY want.
I know what some of you might be thinking: “Well that’s hard to do because I only advertise to a large list of homeowners with different interests.”
Well then, my answer to that is…
Real Estate Copywriting Tip #3: Narrow Down Your List
“The only advantage I want is a starving crowd.”
This is my final piece of advice taken from the marketing expert, Gary Halbert.
We know that we must have the customer in the center focus of the ad, and that we must do some research beforehand. But, before you even do your research, you must have an audience… a very targeted audience.
Gary Halbert had once said in his book “The Boron Letters,” “I only want a starving crowd.”
A list of absentee owners is not a starving crowd. What does a BIG list of homeowners with equity have in common? Nothing… except that they have equity.
Are they “starving to sell their house at a discount for cash and a fast, as-is sale”? Who knows if there are any motivated sellers on that list. It’s a dice game.
A better list, that narrows in on problems rather than equity, is taking multiple lists and combining them.
An example would be absentee owners who have inherited a house and have had an eviction or credit problems. A probate list containing an out-of-state heir/executor and the property going through probate was owned for at least 20 years.
Now, I understand these are probably difficult lists to obtain, but the main idea I’m illustrating is almost every single one on that list has a serious problem with money, a tiresome house, or they don’t want to deal with the unwanted property. If you need a simpler approach, just take an eviction list, a divorce list, or a tax delinquency list.
Does it seem like it’s a little too much?
Well, Gary Halbert, in the same book, gave away his method for determining a list. In doing so, he cut it down 10 times! That’s right, he used 10 different layers (criteria) to narrow it down to a hotlist.
A list like that is much easier to research. And now you can speak directly to their pain points.
Plus, this produces a MUCH cheaper marketing budget.
We’ve only touched on the audience in this article. And there’s much more to creating compelling copy… but…
Every good advertiser starts with their audience
I know that I’ve mentioned direct mail quite a bit. But all this info applies directly to any marketing channel like Facebook, TV, bandit signs, and PPC just as well.
- Narrow down your list to hit specific pain points.
- Research that list to find out more about your audience, their hidden benefits, and their pain points (also interests, hobbies, tv shows, age, gender, political affiliation, desires, etc).
- Focus on the prospect and their pain points in the message.
When you apply these tips, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a crowded market or not.
Imagine your prospect who is tired of her rental and having money issues, and she’s holding two letters in her hand:
One says, “I will buy your house…” a message she gets every week. The other (yours) speaks of the problems of evictions, the cost, and how difficult it is to sell a house with tenants and then introduces a solution.
It’s obvious which one grabs more attention.
However, this is nothing new. This has been tried and made true by hundreds of copywriters who help 8-figure businesses increase their revenue.
And if you implement these, you can put yourself ahead of the game by increasing your ROI (and your success) where others are spending $10,000 a month for 7 months on a huge equity list saying, “I want to buy your house…”