Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 169

Direct Mail

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There’s nothing quite like direct mail. A successful direct mail piece has a 99% failure rate – and that’s considered a success. Do you know any other thing in life that counts 1% as a win? In this week’s Mobile Home Park Master podcast we’re going to discuss one of the greatest ways to find parks to buy: the good old-fashioned direct mail. And we’re going to review what makes them more and less effective in getting the mom and pop park owners to give you a call. If you are not using direct mail to find a park to buy, then you may be missing on a great opportunity – if you do it correctly.

Episode 169: Direct Mail Transcript

We all like to get mail and mobile home park owners are no exception. This is Frank Rolfe from Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. We're going to be talking about direct mail pieces, one of the most vital ways to find mobile home parks to buy. There's about four different ways that you find a mobile home park, most of the time. The first, mobile home park brokers. The second, cold calling. The third, online. And the fourth, direct mail. And when we look back and all the parks we bought over the last 25 years, the breakdown is about half of those come from mobile home park brokers. And of the remainder, it's about an equal split between cold calling, direct mail, and online. So that means that direct mail is a very, very important part of anyone's park acquisition process. Now direct mail is unique because it has a 99% fail rate and a 99% fail rate in everything else in life is terrible.

Can you imagine in school, having a 1% score on your test. Instant F-, you'd be tossed out of any higher education. But in direct mail, 99% fail is considered good, some even consider it great. So that's what makes it so unique, is that in relation to all the other endeavors of life, nowhere has the bar been set so low. So how do you have a successful direct mail piece to mobile home park owners? Here's some tips to make it work for you. The first is you want to send it to the owner, not the manager? So how do you do that?

Well, the first thing you have to do is you've got to get the address and the name of whoever owns the mobile home park, as fully separate from the address of the park itself. What you do is you get the address of the park, you go to the tax assessor's database, you enter that address in, if it's online. If it's not online, although most are, you'd have to call them to do it. And when you give them the address of the property, the tax assessor can give you the name and the address of the owner. Now you have all the information that you need.

Now we know now where to mail it, but what do we mail exactly? Well, you have two options in direct mail. You've got a postcard and you've got a letter. Now we have found, over the years, the postcard is far more successful than the letter. Why would that be? Well, probably because moms and pops are wonderful at guessing what's direct mail spam from real letters. So when you send a letter, they eyeball that letter before they open it, they stare at it, they might hold it up to the light, and if it's not legit, which they can tell it's not, it goes straight into the trash.

But when you get a postcard, you can't help but look at it, it's right there in your face. There's nothing hiding your sales pitch. And if you do a good job on the postcard, they're going to read it and they might call you. So definitely postcard over letter. Now that doesn't mean you should only do postcards, you can mix things up. If you have only one shot, you're going to want to take the postcard shot, not the letter shot. On the postcard, make sure that you have something engaging on it visually. Typically, that's a photograph of a mobile home park and not a fancy mobile home park. You want something that the park owner will identify with. Most mobile home parks in the United States are not fancy. A tiny subset are fancy.

So don't be embarrassed to show your regular old, affordable housing park with homes from the 1970s and the '80s and the '90s without a whole lot of landscaping, because that's probably what your mom and pop has to offer is that kind of a mobile home park. And also don't be afraid to put a picture of yourself on it. You could even put a picture of your family on it. Who knows, the mom and pop may look at that photo and say, "I liked that guy, he reminds me of me at a younger age." Or, "I like the looks of him, he looks at my best friend from high school." Those are the kinds of moments in which you are going to get a better response to your direct mail piece.

Also do not put any negative limitations in the postcard. Don't put a whole bunch of bullet points of things you don't want to buy in a mobile home park. Don't give a minimum size of lots. Don't say no private utilities. Make it positive, make it engaging, make them call you. You can always screen them out when they call you. But if you put a lot of negative points, even if they had the perfect park, they may not call you because they think you're just too picky. You scare them, you make them think that you'll give them rejection. No one wants to call you if they call you up and they feel all excited about doing it and calling you and they can't wait to tell everyone what you said, and then you shoot them down. No, no, that park, no, that's terrible. I never want to buy that. So don't come across that way in the postcard.

Now you can always again say, well, you know what? That really doesn't meet what I'm looking for, once you have the details, but don't give them on the front end the opinion that you're super picky and super negative. Also just dare to be different. Someone once was called me wanting to do a postcard, it was going to be a picture of their family, having a picnic. It had nothing to do with mobile home parks whatsoever. The person was taking the gamble that the mom and pop would look at that and say, "I like this family, they remind me of our family years ago. They remind me of my daughter's family."

And lo and behold, he sent out the direct mail piece and he did get a lot of calls from it. So don't think you just have to use some kind of stock plan, you don't, you can do different things. Why? Because it's a 99% failure rate. That means you're just trying to get that 1%, that unique individual to look at your direct mail piece and say, "Hmm, I think I'm going to call this person because there's something that really attracts me, something very engaging about this postcard or about that letter." So don't be afraid to be different.

Also, never stop after just one attempt. If you're going to send out a direct mail piece, it isn't a case where you fire it off and then you never do it again. Because you're trying to build awareness like any other business. Can you imagine an advertiser who would run one ad on late night TV or just one billboard and call it quits and say, "Yep. Done all the marketing I can do, I'm done now." No, that would never work. You're trying to build awareness with repeat, the same thing that advertisers do. So you're never going to get there stopping after just one attempt. Hollywood did a study during The Depression to figure out how many times they had to tell you to see a movie before you'd go, and they found that number was seven. That when they tested it on moviegoers, if they gave you the title of the movie seven times, you had the greatest likelihood you would go.

I'm not saying it will take you seven postcards to get there. But clearly what it means is the more you repeat something, the greater awareness the person has. And then they decide, "You know what? I'm going to go ahead and call this person." And also don't forget that you're not trying to sell somebody something here. This is not a direct mail piece where you're trying to sell them a sweater or vitamins. You're trying to give the money. And I think that's one of the most important things people don't realize when you look at all the various more active ways to find parks. So just cold calling, you're not trying to sell them something, they don't have to write a check to you. You're trying to write a check to them. So the perception and their reception is completely different than typical channels. So when you're doing that postcard, when you're doing that letter, don't afraid to be different, but also don't have to put a heavy sales pitch on it.

It's not hard to get people to want to call you. Maybe they just want to call you for an affirmation of the current value. Maybe they just want to call you because they're lonely. Maybe they just want to call you to get an idea of what's going on in the mobile home park market. All of the above are fine. Those conversations can ultimately lead to them selling you their mobile home park. We've had many cases where we've had calls from people, even after they're deceased, from members of their family who found the postcard stuck on the wall of the park office and had a little note on it saying, call this person and they call. And then we ultimately buy it. There's many random routes and trails that lead to the ultimate signing of the contract. And the direct mail piece is an important start to that adventure to that journey.

So direct mail is a very essential part of finding the right mobile home park to buy. And most people don't realize if you do a good job with it, it can be a very, very effective tool. The issue is you've got to do it the right way. You've got to find the owner, you have to write something that is engaging, that is different. You have to make the phone ring. You don't want to scare people away on the front end by being highly negative, and don't stop after one attempt, try and try again. If, when you talk to a lot of owners, you'll find many, many of them, many of their best deals came from direct mail pieces, it can be a very successful option for you. This is Frank Rolfe from Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast. Hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.