14: Making Direct Mail and Phone Calls Generate Real Estate Leads – Steve Simmons

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steve simmons real estate agentLearn how Steve Simmons uses a combination of direct mail and personal phone calls to generate lots of business.


Agent:  Steve Simmons

Market:  Los Angeles, California

Steal His Ideas:

  • Referrals (the “Buffini” philosphy)
  • Combination of prospecting and marketing
  • Direct mail newsletters
  • Geographic farms
  • Contests to get people interested and engaged

steve simmons newsletters


Steve and his team partner combine traditional referral generation with direct mail.

His newsletters typically go out about 8 times per year.  They generally relate some type of market activity to the local community.  This goes out to a couple thousand people both via postal mail and email.

Good “calls to action” are very important and they always use them to generate some type of activity from people.

Being in front of people every month or so keeps his name awareness top-of-mind.

His prospecting activities include lots of phone work.  His strength is in being able to connect with people and connect on more than just a “business” level.

His database is his gold.  He keeps track of who’s in the database and can prioritize them based on who gives referrals and who doesn’t.  Of course, people who provide referrals get more activity.

He makes calls to his sphere when he can. Steve makes use of downtime to connect with people. For example, driving around in his car is a great time to make calls and check in with people (a bluetooth headset helps keep his focus on the road).

When he meets up with people, he subscribes to the philosophy of “never showing up with an empty hand.”  Give people something of value to remember you by and they will appreciate it.

Steve isn’t afraid of asking for referrals.  He “shoots the breeze” with people and referrals naturally generate from these conversations.  He generally follows the basic principles of the Brian Buffini system.

Lightning Round

What’s the worst marketing you’ve done that others should avoid:  Throwing an event where people were not engaged with him.

What keeps you motivated:  Family, duty to provide.

You’ve got 30 days and $1000, what do you do:  Contact your entire sphere and ask for their help.  Then, strategically pick a neighborhood and start knocking on doors.

How You Can Do What He’s Done

Pick up the phone and say HI to people you’ve worked with.  Yep, it’s that simple.

Utilize newsletters on a consistent basis to keep people aware of your expertise.

Treat everyone like family.  Do the right thing at all times and they’ll trust you and be loyal to you.  And that results in referrals.


Steve’s Real Estate Team

Brian Buffini

12: How To Sell $1M Homes With Postcards – Bob Pennypacker

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Learn how these 2 agents are using clever direct mail to sell $1,000,000+ homes consistently with a list of roughly 1000 people.

bob pennypacker and dianne vernonProfile

Agents:  Team of Bob Pennypacker & Dianne Vernon

Market: Sonoma County, California

Steal Their Ideas:

  • Postcards to their farm (demographic and geographic farm)
  • Yearly calendar with each month being a home they sold
  • Postcards to expired listings
  • Work as a team to get more done together than they could individually
  • Create custom “buyer’s guide” for their market


Bob and Dianne use direct mail in a variety of ways.

One of their pieces is a custom calendar sent to about 2000 people each Christmas.  On this calendar, each month is a gorgeous picture of a home that they sold that year.  This keeps their names, faces, and successes out in the market.

They also send out about 800 postcards to both current clients and a small farm.  This averages twice a month whenever they have sold a home (“just sold” cards) as well as anything interesting that’s going on with their business and market.

A printed newsletter that focuses more on current real estate market data is also a part of their plan.  This goes out to roughly 400 people monthly.

Bob and Dianne also work expireds with postcards.  With a bit of humor, their postcards attempt to strike an emotional chord with sellers and how their team can make changes to their current failing approach.   They get expireds from the MLS, filter the ones that are worthwhile, and then will also follow up with a phone call if they have a number.

It’s important to note that they’re strategically marketing themselves with each piece they send out.  They’re not just mailing cake recipes.  They’re putting their names and info on each piece with some type of valuable content that would be of interest to that particular reader.

For their “buyer’s guide” it started out with people just wanting information about the local market and they turned that into an in-depth digital brochure which you can see here.

While they are heavy into marketing themselves, they also put a lot of effort into marketing their listing,  But, in the end, even that marketing serves three purposes:

  • it keeps the sellers happy
  • it is used in other listing presentations
  • it sells the home

listing million dollar homes with direct mail


Lightning Round

What’s the worst marketing you’ve done that others should avoid:  Nothing.  Even when something fails, it was worth a try because there’s always something to learn from that experience.

What keeps you motivated:  There’s so much variety in this business, every day is new, fun, and exciting.

You’ve got 30 days and $1000, what do you do:  Get a real estate coach or mentor.  If you learn the business at the beginning of your career, you’ll succeed faster and have a better chance to stick around in this business.

How You Can Do What They’ve Done

Bob and Dianne’s approach is based around consistently being in front of people with direct mail.  Pick a farm area, keep in touch with your sphere, create interesting and valuable direct mail pieces, and consistently send to these people.  Follow up when necessary with the phone or email.

Bob admits it’s a lot of work.  But, it’s definitely working for them.


Their postcard mailing service:  Quantum Postcards

Direct mail strategy services and marketing:  Hobbs Herder

Our guide to sending just listed/just sold postcards


11: [TOOLBOX] How Many Just Listed/Sold Postcards Should I Send Out?

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If you’re going to try direct mail postcards to broadcast your new “just listed” or “just sold” listings, you may be wondering how many postcards to send out.

The general consensus is roughly 300.

Here are some things to consider to see if maybe you should be sending the same, more, or fewer.

just sold just listed postcards


Sending out your just sold / just listed postcards one time isn’t going to do you any good.  Consistency is key if you’re trying to target a farm with direct mail.  So, one of your first considerations should be how many cards you can send out on a regular basis.


How much can you afford to regularly spend on postage and printing?  Again, consistency is key so you may want to consider your budget in terms of a monthly spend or, if you have a consistent flow of deals and listings, how much you’re going to invest for each new listing or sale.

Split Testing

Are you sending out one card or are you doing any type of split testing to see which version of a card works better?  If you’re doing a split test, you’re better off sending more cards than fewer.  That’s because you’ll start to see more statistically accurate results if you can send out at least a few hundred with each version.

Your List vs. New Clients

Is your goal with your postcards to gain brand new clients or to reinforce your top-of-mind awareness with your current clients?  If you’re going for new blood, then you’ll want to consider a larger list so you’re more likely to reach people who are ready (or nearly ready) to buy/sell right now.  If you’re advertising to current clients, then just stick to that list.  If it’s a huge list of current clients, then try segmenting or prioritizing that list to target just those who are most likely to refer you or use you directly again.

Value of Homes

If your farm is homes that have an average value that is very high or low, this should be a major consideration for you.  Your fixed costs (postage, printing, etc.) will be exactly the same either way.  So, if your average home value is $700,000 and the commissions are going to be pretty good, that may be incentive to send out more just listed postcards than if the average value is $95,000.

Do You Enjoy It?

Any prospecting must be fun (or at least tolerable) to ensure you’ll keep doing it.  How many just sold postcards will you have the time and interest to do?

You Can Always Do More

Once you start, you can always send out more cards as you find that they’re working for you.  There’s no point in doing 1000 and then cutting back to 400 three months later.  You’re much better off starting smaller and then growing as needed.

Frequency Level

We talked about your consistency over the long-term.  But what about frequency – how many can you send out each month or quarter?  Sending out 2 cards a year for 10 years might be consistent, but that frequency probably isn’t enough.  How many cards can you send out each week, month, or quarter and keep the consistency up?

How Are You Mailing?

What is the method you’ll be using to mail your cards?  If you’re doing everything by hand like writing addresses by hand or manually sticking stamps and address stickers, that’s going to be a big investment of time.  Or, do you have some type of mailing service like Every Door Direct Mail from the US Post office?  The effort involved in mailing will have an impact on how likely you are to consistently do this well.


What is the turnover of the homes you’re mailing to?  If it’s pretty active and people are moving in and out of the area regularly, this could be good news for you because there are going to be more ready and willing clients.  If turnover is low, you’re going to have to be especially patient before this type of advertising starts working for you.


When you start your just listed/sold campaign, make an effort to send roughly 300 on a frequent and consistent basis.  As you see how the program is working, you can alter your advertising message as well as the number of homes you’re targeting so you can reap the biggest bang for the buck.

Do you do direct mail like this?  Leave us a message and let us know how many you send and how it works for you.