6 Top ideas to get your Direct Mail noticed blogpost for estate agents by Sam Ashdown

What exactly is direct mail?

Is it canvassing? Is it leaflets? Is it postcards?

Direct mail is actually a letter. It’s addressed to a person, or an address, or both. Unlike leaflets, which are sent out indiscriminately door to door, direct mail is highly targeted and sent to a specific address.

I know, I know – a leafletting campaign is so much easier to create and deliver. You simply get them designed and printed, then push them through every letterbox in your area. It’s cheap and cheerful – but it doesn’t actually work. In fact, because leaflet response rates are so dismal, it will prove more expensive in the long run to lead-gen in this way.

If you can be selective in your mailings, if you target just a small group of home owners with a carefully crafted series of letters, it’s far more effective for your wallet, and for the environment. It’s also better for the recipients of your letters, as they’ll feel they’ve been targeted specifically and that makes your piece of direct mail worth so much more to them than a random leaflet.

A stamped, handwritten envelope is pretty certain to be opened, and anyone who does take the time to read two or even three pages of a well written letter is far more likely to take an action at the end of it. If you invest several minutes absorbing and engaging with a brand’s content, you’re much more likely to act in accordance with that time investment.


What should your direct mail actually say?

I’ve spent 17 years perfecting my direct mail writing, and I’m sure I’ll spend at least the next 17 working hard to hone it further. In that time, I’ve learned the hard way how to get someone to respond to a letter sent to them. And I know my stuff. That’s why, in our first year of running AshdownJones, around 70% of all our fees were attributable to our direct mail letters. That’s about £350k in fees. Sometimes we were getting a 10% response rate, and we were able to build on that early success to really make a name for ourselves in an area that had never heard of Ashdown, never mind Jones. 

Here are the main components you need to get right in your direct mail piece:

  • Your headline – needs to be compelling and grab their attention from the start
  • Your first paragraph – they have to feel that reading the letter is in their interest
  • The length – longer copy outsells shorter copy, every time
  • The call to action – make it easy for them to say yes
  • The envelope – hand-written and with a stamp, not a frank

Once you have your letter ready, it’s time to get creative. Why not send out something in the envelope that makes it really stand out on the mat? ‘Lumpy mail’ has been used by direct marketers for decades, and with good reason – because it works. Or look for a creative angle for your call to action? I’ve come up with six ideas for you to try with your direct mail to get a great response rate with every send out:

1.  Send them something useful – how about a car air freshener? Maybe about one in the shape of a house. Brand it and it’ll hang around in their car for months, reminding them that you are there to help when they’re ready for a chat.

2.  Make your offer time-bound – say you only have space to take on x more properties in the next xx weeks; would they like to register their interest?

3.  Send a sample– a marketing sample can offer a really tangible advantage over promised service levels. Send a letter offering a marketing sample pack, and then send them – on request – your best brochures with a case study attached to each one.

4.  Include a link to a free download or checklist – for this, you’ll need a digital marketing funnel, so you can create a landing page so they can enter their email address and automatically receive the freebie.

5.  Send them to your online valuation tool – a variation on the above, the point here is to get them to take action, and to take them from an offline prospect to an online lead.

6.  Send a series of letters – get them waiting for the next letter in your series; they are much more likely to open and read a letter they are expecting. Maybe a property styling series in three parts, or how to prepare to put a house on the market. Get creative and write something your recipients will find informative and useful, whilst being able to show off your expertise.

If you do all of the above (not all at once though), you’ll find your phone starts ringing, and your email starts pinging – and it all begins with that letter, so get writing.


How would you like to get your hands on our ‘magic’ letters? (And the system for sending them.)

If you’d like to apply for next my Add £100k with High Value Homes Programme, where you’ll not only get the exact step-by-step instructions on how to create your own successful direct mail campaigns, you’ll also get our actual letters, just click here to tell us a bit about your agency. If we’re not working with one of your competitors, and we think you could be a good fit, we’ll be in touch to arrange a chat.

In the meantime, happy sending!


PS here’s the link in full to book a call to discuss how I can help you attract and convert High Value Homes, and to discuss your enrolment into the Add £100k Programme:


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One thought on “6 Top ideas to get your direct mail noticed

  1. Martyn Ashley Trueman 3 years ago

    Good morning Sam, I am a single source print and mail provider working with many well known brands such as ALDI, ChemDry, ServiceMaster etc saving them a huge amount of time and money on their many DM campaigns, give me a call if I could quote for your next customer campaign.