Turning Lemons Into Leads

Have you ever made a mistake that turned into a major success? This past week I did.

photo_2933_20070820I am always on the lookout for new marketing campaigns. I use several targeted mailing lists, as well as other offline and online marketing efforts to generate motivated seller leads. With that said, I am always on the lookout for an untapped resource that can help me expand my business.

Early this month, I ran into a very targeted mailing list that was previously “ungettable” in my market. The list broker also provided a series of postcards that he claimed would generate a 4-6% return rate. I figured I would give the list a try.

At the beginning of last week, I received the mailing list with about 1200 recipients. By Wednesday, I had the list and the postcard template updated to my Click2Mail account for production. On Friday, the marketing pieces hit the mail, and between Saturday and Tuesday, my message was in the hands of my targeted sellers.

Monday I got to the office and checked my voicemail. There were 23 messages. Nice!

The first message started with, “I don’t know who you think you are, but I pay my taxes. Take my name off your list!”

I thought, “What is she talking about?” Then I pushed play again. The caller left me audio with a similar message to the first. So did the third and the forth. By the 6th message, I knew there must be some mistake.

My next step was to log into my Click2Mail account and view the postcard that went out. It was a delinquent tax mailer. The problem was that my list was not a delinquent tax list. And my recipients did not appreciate being told their property taxes were unpaid.

Then, I got an idea. Maybe I should just tell the truth and explain the situation when a call comes in. That’s what I did. For the past 2 days, I’ve gotten over 220 calls from a targeted group of motivated sellers. Most of these calls start with an upset caller. Almost all of them end with an audible smile on the other end of the line. Forty-three of these callers expressed interest in selling their properties, and 12 have scheduled appointments with me to see their houses.

This incident exemplified 2 basic lessons for me. First, even bad publicity is better than no publicity. Second, problems occur when your message is not tailored to your market.

At the end of the day, this campaign has been a success. I’ll probably contract 3-4 properties over the next 2 weeks. This mistake turns out to be one of my most successful marketing campaigns.