I have had a great question in from a reader asking about leafleting.

Specifically, the question was, ‘Have you ever used leaflets, like the We Buy Houses Fast type leaflets, and if so what sort of success rate would you expect to have with your leaflets, and what sort of discount would you expect to get from the price if you actually managed to find a motivated seller by using your leaflets?”.

Before I answer I think we need to take a step back because probably, in the real world, it doesn’t quite work in a simple, linear fashion as implied by the question.

There are so many different variables which are going to affect whether a leafleting campaign is successful, whether you end up generating leads, and whether those leads will become deals, or even good deals.

Not like all leaflets are the same. Not all prospects who receive the leaflet are the same. And not all of the investors who are leafleting are the same.

For example, starting with the leaflet first, the wording that you have on your leaflet, the size of your leaflet, the colour of the leaflet, the colour of the printing on the leaflet, all of this is going to make a difference to your results. Why? Because the leaflet is like a little advert.

If you go to one of the big advertising agents, if you go to Saatchi & Saatchi or Ogilvy, they will tell you about the power and the importance of a) communicating the right message and b) testing the message for your marketplace.

And this is just as true of a leaflet as a full colour spread in a magazine, or a TV advert.

So, what does the leaflet actually say? What is the leaflet offering? How is the leaflet formatted to attract attention? All of this is going to make a difference to your response rate.

Similarly, where you actually deliver the leaflet is going to make a difference. If you are after a particular type of deal and you are after a particular type of seller, you need to think about the area in which you a delivering your leaflet, and what the people who live in that particular area are going to respond to? Are they more interested in a quick deal or a higher price? (By the way, you can’t assume that everyone is only after the best price).

Do they want an outright sale now, or would they consider a more creative deal in order to get better terms at some point in the future? How do you word your leaflet so you can distinguish between these different seller’s needs?

Another variable which we probably don’t even think about when we are considering leafletting for leads is what actually happens when somebody responds.

I wouldn’t use a leaflet to direct somebody to a website because if they go to a website they will probably disappear and you’ll never hear from them. I would still use just a mobile number on my leaflet, and I would expect more people to text than to telephone. If they text, I‘ll initiate dialogue by asking a couple of basic questions, and then I’d offer to ring them once I can see they are serious, and when it feels like they are becoming more comfortable engaging with me.

Before you deliver your first leaflet you’ll need to think through this whole process of what happens when they contact you? How do you vet them? What questions do you ask them? How do you treat them?

I have found you’ll get more deals if you make them feel safe and secure. Don’t forget, if somebody is going to ring you or text you, the chances are they have got a problem that they need to resolve. They don’t want to deal with somebody who they think isn’t going to be looking after their best interests, so you need to treat them with courtesy and respect. That is going to make a big difference whether you are going to be able to do a deal once you’ve popped a leaflet through the door and somebody has got in touch with you.

A crucial thing to remember is that somebody is only going to respond to your leaflet if, at the moment they receive the leaflet, they need to respond to you.

In other words, at the point the leaflet arrives on their doormat, they have a particular problem that needs solving (this is usually financial), and your leaflet seems to them to be the answer to that problem.

I do hear stories of people who go out leafletting and then 2 years later somebody will ring from a particular leaflet, but it is very, very rare. What is usually going to happen is, if that particular day when the leaflet goes through the letterbox the person who receives the leaflet has no need to call you, they wont call you and the leaflet will go in the recycling bin. There has got to be a reason why they need to call you, otherwise they won’t (obviously).

So, there is a timing issue as well. This is why when you leaflet an area you don’t just do it once. You might have to leaflet your investment area a dozen times before you start getting meaningful leads.

It might be the first 4 times you leaflet a particular house the owner has no pressing (financial) problems and so the leaflet has no impact on them at all. So they ignore it and put it in the bin.

But maybe the fifth time you post a leaflet through the door their circumstances have changed and they need to resolve a new (financial) problem quickly. They may be desperate for help, and your leaflet seems to be a lifeline for them. So they text or call.

I have had calls within 10 minutes of putting a leaflet through a door, but I’ve also had calls months after putting a leaflet through a door. There’s no hard and fast rules how this will work for you.

But one thing I can say with certainty is, this is a numbers game and the more leaflets you deliver, preferably repeated deliveries to properties in the same area, the more responses you will eventually get.

One last variable is when you actually go round to somebody’s house, you sit there and you talk to them, you find out what their problem is and you try to structure a deal, the variable there is how good are you at structuring deals? Do you want to structure a deal which involves you putting some cash in, or are you going to try to structure a deal which involves you putting no cash in? That may affect whether you are able to do a deal or not.

This can take a lot of practice and patience. You need to be able to understand the problem they are trying to solve, and you need to be creative and skilled in putting together a deal which works for them as well as for you.

You can’t just deliver leaflets with the aim of offering 50% BMV if someone calls or texts you. It takes a lot more finesse and subtlety to create deals which will be accepted and which will stick (i.e complete).

Going back to the original question, in summary, what I am trying to say is that it is really not the case that I can say ‘If you use leaflets, you’ll get a 10% response rate and 1% of those will become deals’.

All of the variables we’ve considered, cumulatively, mean that there are no hard and fast rules and no certain outcomes. You cannot assume that you will get a 10% response rate, or a 5% response rate, and that 1% of your leaflets will result in deals. It just does not work like that.

You need to test. You need to test the wording of your leaflets, you need to test where you deliver the leaflets, you need to test the type of deal that you are trying to find with the leaflets. You need to test how you respond to people who respond to your leaflet, and you need to test how you actually structure deals when you sit down with people face to face in their front room and  have a cup of tea with them.

If you are prepared to put in the time and effort to do this, you’ll find leafleting is one of the very best ways to find great deals.

Here’s to successful property investing

Peter Jones B.Sc FRICS

By the way, I’ve rewritten and updated my best selling eBook, The Successful Property Investor’s Strategy Workshop, which is an account of how I put together my multi-property portfolio, starting from scratch and with no money of my own, and how you can do the same. For more details please go to ThePropertyTeacher.co.uk

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