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Leveling Up Your Approach to Real Estate Marketing

Gavin Finch
Written by Gavin Finch 

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In the real estate industry, the term marketing is often lumped in with negotiating. Together, they typically mean “convincing a property owner to sell.” So, many real estate investors and wholesalers charge ahead, contact motivated sellers, and lose a lot of money on marketing campaigns that don’t lead to many responses.

Some of this is to be expected. Cold outreach campaigns in virtually every industry have a low response rate. But if your marketing campaigns consist of invitations to sell a property, then your messaging may be working against you.

Marketing and sales require a different approach. There are several steps someone has to take in their own mind before they’re ready to make a purchasing or selling decision; marketing campaigns are designed to move them along that journey. 

So if you’re ready to escape the endless cycle of rejection and start seeing some return on your investment, it’s time to separate your marketing and sales plans. This guide will show you how to do it and help you create messages that resonate with motivated sellers.

The various real estate marketing strategies you can use

Before we dive into how to market to motivated sellers, let’s explore the various tools you can leverage to get your message across. The good news is that there are several options and your budget won’t keep you from reaching out to a lot of people at once. The following list is guaranteed to have a strategy that you can use. 

Bandit signs

Bandit signs are one of the most famous real estate marketing strategies because they’re the method that most early wholesalers started with. If you’ve ever seen the signs on the corner of busy intersections that read, “We Buy Ugly Houses,” you’ve seen bandit signs. 

These signs have stood the test of time simply because they’re so effective. They may not let you target specific property owners or deliver messages directly to them, but they will display your message to a lot of people for a very low cost. As a result, they also double as a lead generation strategy.

One thing to keep in mind if you’re going to use bandit signs is that you need to be ready to answer the phone when it rings. Also, be prepared to deal with a lot of unqualified leads. Some people will mistake you for a real estate agent; others will waste your time. However, bandit signs are still the best way to start marketing as a wholesaler or real estate investor, especially if you’re working with a tight budget.

Networking with real estate professionals

Another marketing and lead generation method that requires barely any monetary investment is building your network. Real estate professionals in your local area know a lot of people who need to sell. 

Good realtors have deep networks and know about distressed properties and motivated sellers in need of help. Landscapers and property contractors know about elderly homeowners who are considering selling their homes. Local roofers have lists of properties with roof or storm damage. 

If you build relationships with these businesses, you won’t just find leads, you may also have someone willing to introduce you to property owners and help you secure deals. No matter what your budget is, this is a marketing strategy you should be using.

Driving for dollars

Many would consider driving for dollars the original real estate lead generation strategy. It’s a systematic approach to finding leads by driving through neighborhoods and looking for distressed properties. But it doubles as a marketing strategy because it puts you in front of properties. If you see something worth investing in, you just have to knock on the door. 

Door knocking is how many famous investors got their start, and the influx of technology into real estate has only made it more effective. Now, a select few real estate lead generation platforms have driving for dollars modules. These tools let you track driving routes, skip trace owner information, and even access detailed property information from a mobile app. 

All you have to do is find a property you like, research it in the app, and then take a deep breath before knocking on the door. Everything you need to approach a homeowner and land a deal is in the palm of your hand!

Cold calling

The most popular way to market to property owners is to call them directly. Most investors rely on cold calling for several reasons. For starters, it’s a great way to build relationships with leads. Unlike bandit signs and other forms of impersonal marketing, cold calling is direct and personal.

Calling also gives you the ability to target your campaigns based on specific motivated seller lists. This way, you can customize your approach, script, and objective. Furthermore, cold calling relies on sales and negotiation skills. This gives you yet another edge over non-verbal marketing strategies because you can have a conversation, listen to the property owner’s responses, consider their pain points, and work with them to come up with a solution. 

Finally, one of the greatest benefits of cold calling is that it’s scalable. You can hire teams of people to call lists, qualify leads, and funnel the most promising opportunities directly to you. This doesn’t even have to be expensive. If you hire virtual assistants, you can build a calling team at a low price. Then, as you grow your business, you can hire acquisition experts to improve your performance. 

Just be sure to stay current on cold calling regulations. As the FCC becomes more involved in protecting consumers, certain calling behaviors that were once seen as keys to succeeding on the phone are now heavily penalized. If you keep these regulations in mind and follow calling best practices, cold calling will likely become one of your most effective real estate marketing strategies.

Real estate SMS marketing

Over the past few years, texting motivated sellers has become increasingly popular simply because it’s fast. You can reach thousands of people in just a few minutes and they’re almost all guaranteed to open your message! Texting is one of the only marketing strategies that provide those kinds of results.

Texting is also an excellent icebreaker if you build it into a multi-step marketing campaign. You can send an initial text message and then follow it up with a call. However, it’s seen a slight decline in effectiveness in recent months simply because it’s been abused. Political campaigns may be the worst offenders, and many people have grown frustrated with getting text messages from numbers they don’t know.

This doesn’t mean you should skip out on text-based marketing, though; you just need to be strategic about how you use it. Send thoughtful messages, abide by texting best practices, and text targeted lists instead of broad ones. Finally, we highly recommend mixing SMS with another marketing strategy. Since FCC regulations are still developing, we don’t recommend relying solely on SMS. 

Digital advertising

There are two primary digital marketing strategies that you should implement in your real estate business: pay-per-click and social media marketing. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising may be one of the most expensive ways to market to motivated sellers, but it’s also one of the most effective. Real estate lead generation software can help you target and segment lists based on distress factors, financial information, and demographics. However, PPC ads give you another level of targeting by automatically segmenting people based on their internet activity and interests.

Another reason many top investors rely on PPC advertising is that it’s an effective way to find people who are actively looking to sell. If someone is searching for realtors or other resources related to selling a property, the ad platform you choose will put your ad in front of them without requiring any manual involvement on your part. 

However, PPC ads are expensive and they don’t always pay off because digital platforms are saturated. If you have the marketing budget to invest in ads, we recommend implementing this strategy where you can. But if you’re new to investing and have a limited budget, we highly recommend staying away from pay-per-click ads until your business is more established.

However, a small budget doesn’t have to keep you from digital marketing. Organic social media is an effective way to reach motivated sellers in your market and it’s completely free. This strategy does require consistency, but if you can create content that appeals to your target market, social media may be one of your most effective marketing channels early on.

To create a winning social media marketing strategy, 

Finding more success with your real estate marketing

Now that we’ve overviewed several of the ways you can market to motivated sellers, let’s discuss how you can make your campaigns more effective.

First, it’s important to understand that there’s a difference between marketing and selling. Most real estate marketing is actually just selling in disguise. Investors contact someone to ask if they want to sell and then they either present them with an offer or schedule an appointment. 

This isn’t a bad approach, and it works on a consistent basis. The only problem is that it has low conversion rates; you’ll spend a lot more time and money marketing than you will signing deals. As with any cold marketing campaign, this is to be expected, but there are ways you can improve your marketing efforts and see better results.

Understand the flow of real estate marketing

Marketing begins by understanding your target audience and identifying what they need. In the case of your real estate business, your target audience is usually homeowners who are experiencing a financial hardship that’s pushing them to sell. There are many reasons why someone could feel this motivation, but they all have one thing in common: quickly selling their home for cash will fix most of their problems.

Once you identify and understand your audience, you can create messaging that speaks directly to them. As a real estate entrepreneur, you simply need a string of messages that will move a prospect from a stranger to a seller over time. 

There are several ways you can do this, but they all start with segmenting your lists based on distress type and geographical area. Then plan on using multiple marketing strategies so you can contact homeowners several times, in several different ways.

Once you have your plan in place, you can start by setting up bandit signs around highly-trafficked areas in your target neighborhoods. These signs can prominently feature your company’s logo and a notice that you are buying houses for cash.

Your next step might be to launch a focused direct mail campaign with the same information. Target houses in the areas around your bandit signs to ensure that the people getting your mailers have seen your logo before. Then start sending text messages. Lead with a simple introduction (and be careful not to use spam words in your first text), and then tell anyone who responds that you’re looking to buy a house like theirs for cash. Finally, start making calls. By this step, your target audience will likely have seen your marketing materials or heard from you at least four times, so you won’t even be cold calling anymore!

The best part about setting up a multi-step marketing plan is that you can customize it however you want. This approach is friendly to any budget, and you can add or remove steps depending on your goals. You can mix in new marketing strategies or take a lean approach and only use two or three. The most important thing is that you interact with people multiple times. Marketing experts say that people usually require at least seven touches to make important decisions, so relying on a single cold call isn’t going to cut it in today’s real estate market.

However, you shouldn’t mistake this multi-touch approach for harassment or spam. You should never harass homeowners by contacting them repeatedly without a break. Not only is this annoying, but it also reflects poorly on the industry and could put your business in danger. 

If you repeatedly call and text people, especially those that have asked to be taken off of your list, you could face severe fines or deliverability penalties from phone carriers and the FCC. If someone wants to be left alone, just take them off your list.


While real estate marketing is traditionally seen as a one-touch activity typically focused on cold calling, it can be so much more. Marketing departments across many industries have learned that several high-quality interactions with prospects over time tends to be more effective than a single sales offer. In fact, sales offers are most effective when a person has interacted with a brand for some time.

The world of real estate marketing is filled with exciting potential. Instead of trudging through cold calls, you can put your creativity to work and create campaigns that really stick with motivated sellers. 

Now it’s your turn to get out there, find out what sellers in your market are looking for, and figure out a way to provide it. If you do, you’ll see an increase in your ROI as you begin converting prospects who would have rejected an initial offer. The difference is simple: you’ll have built up their trust in your name.

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