I couldn’t just leave you all hanging with the videos and not explain how I did things and the costs involved, so here goes:
- 8-1/2″ x 11″ yellow ruled-paper
- 8-1/2″ x 11″ white paper
- 4-3/8″ x 5-3/4″ Ivory Invitation Envelopes
- Red Ink Pens (Gel)
- Extra Printer Ink Cartridges
- Computer Scanner
- Image Editing Software
- Word Processing Software
- Local Personal Assistant
- Handwriting Font
Yellow-Letter marketing has been proven over the years as one of the most effective marketing methods available. When sending a personalized, handwritten, hand-addressed yellow letter; it is not uncommon for marketers to experience response rates as high as 15%.
As a Real Estate Investor, marketing is what drives your business. A 15% response rate can inundate you with calls so be sure to be prepared. Read on, and I will give you the complete Do-It-Yourself instructions for creating a Real Estate Investor Yellow-Letter Direct-Mail campaign.
Step 1: Write the Letter
Place a white sheet of 8.5″ x 11″ paper directly over a sheet of 8.5″ x 11″ yellow ruled-paper. By doing this you should be able to faintly view the ruled lines from the underlying paper (if you have access to a light box, I suggest using it for assistance), this will keep your writing straight and the lines spaced according to the paper your letters will end-up printed on. Write your marketing copy on the white sheet of paper and be sure to leave spaces for fields that will be specific to the recipient (mail-merge will be used to fill those spaces with specific text). An example of the copy I wrote is below:
You may of course, use any copy you wish. This is just an example of my letter that was used to target homeowners in my farm area. Where you see circles, is where my Mail-Merge fields were to be placed.
Step 2: Scan the Letter to Image
Place the white paper with the handwritten marketing copy on a scanner and scan the image into an Image Editing Software. I personally use Adobe Fireworks, but any basic Graphics application will work for this project. You want to use the software to clean-up any smudges or inconsistencies that were scanned in (if necessary). Then save the image as a JPEG file.
Step 3: Edit the Image
Open a word-processing application. I personally use Microsoft Word 2003; however any word-processing software with the Mail-Merge feature will suffice. If you’re strapped for cash, you may obtain OpenOffice which contains a free word-processing application that has the Mail-Merge feature. OpenOffice is fairly similar to Microsoft Word.
Open a new document and import the handwritten JPEG into the document. You will do this twice as you need to crop the main JPEG twice to divide the image, so to make room for the mail-merge text fields.
Step 4: Create Handwriting Font
Create a font using your own handwriting. I used the website www.yourfonts.com to create mine. It is very easy to create a font with your own handwriting using their service. I won’t detail the instructions for their service here, but after following their simple directions you’ll have your handwriting font as an option available in your word-processing application. This takes 20 minutes or less.
Step 5: Setup Mail-Merge
I won’t detail how to use Mail-Merge here as the process differs per word-processing application. However, since I am aware of the fact that Microsoft Word is the most widely used application you may view Mail-Merge instructions here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/help/HA010349201033.aspx
For any of you that use a different application and want to know how to use Mail-Merge for it, Google it.
Step 6: Apply the Handwriting font
Once you have your Mail-Merge setup, you will have place-holders that show where the Mail-Merge fields are. If you’re using MS-Word, those fields will have containers of “<<” and “>>”. So for instance, your first field may be “<<Greeting>>”. You will need apply your handwriting font to the fields and adjust the font-size to match the size of your actual handwriting which was scanned in.
Step 7: Print your letters
After scanning in the static handwritten text of your marketing letter and applying your handwritten font to the dynamic Mail-Merge fields, you’re ready to go. Load your printer with your loose-leaf, yellow ruled paper and print your campaign.
It is very hard to distinguish the handwritten-font from the scanned-in handwriting, thus the reason I suggest using a mix of both. When you use a handwritten-font for the entire document and don’t scan-in your actual handwriting, it looks very computer-generated like this:
Although this is my custom handwritten-font that I generated on www.yourfonts.com, the font does not look natural. But when you mix in the handwriting font with your actual scanned-in handwriting, you get a great result as seen below:
Looks pretty good right? If, I didn’t tell you I doubt you’d be able to identify the mail-merged fields.
Step 8: Local Assistant
After you have a stack of papers printed, each unique to the homeowner recipient, you will need to find a local assistant to hand-address and stuff your invitation envelopes. Here is an example envelope:
Try to keep the envelopes as simple as possible. Only write the destination address on the front and place the return address on the back. Do not include your company name in the return address.
Step 10: Affix Stamps and Send
Go with actual adhesive stamps and not any printed-type, the common theme here is personalization. You may have your assistant affix the stamps or you can do that yourself. Then take the envelopes to your nearest mailbox or Post Office and send them out, wait a couple of days for the flood of calls!
You may be saying to yourself, “Why would I go through such trouble, when there are services out there that can do this for me”. Well, if you’re just starting out, doing this yourself can get you in the game with quite a bit of cost savings. However, if you’re a veteran I wouldn’t suggest going the DIY route as it is very time consuming, at least for the initial run. Here is the itemized price break-down/comparison for a campaign of 900 letters (actual prices from a campaign of mine):
|Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Price:||YellowLettersComplete.com Price:|
900 stamps*$0.44 = $396
900 sheets = $19
900 envelopes = $114
Extra Ink = $40
1 font = $10
|Red Ink Pens:
2-pack = $3
|Red Ink Pens:
900 handwritten & stuffed envelopes = $120
They handwrite and stuff each envelope. Instead of mail-merge, they handwrite the recipient-specific fields
$702 or $0.78 each
$1,341 or $1.49 each
|DIY and save $639
This is huge for a rookie on a rookie-budget!