The Ultimate Bandit Sign Campaign!
By: Dan O.
Submitted: 02:41PM on Tuesday 19 August 2008
The author has permitted the reprinting and redistribution of this article.
The Challenge- How to set yourself apart from all of the other "We Buy Houses" folks while making big profits and branding your company as one of the 'good guys' in the least amount of time possible.
Sounds like a daunting task, right? Yeah, I thought the same thing when the idea popped into my head.
However, pay close attention to what you're about to read and you'll soon discover exactly how you can do the very same thing in your city or town.
Before I share the details of the Ultimate Bandit Sign Campaign, I want to let you in on a method of producing killer ideas time after time.
Whenever I venture into new territory, be it a new deal making strategy or simply trail blazing a different technique, I always ask 6 key questions. The answers to these six simple questions dictate whether or not I'll proceed with my plan or modify it accordingly.
Six Golden Keys…
The 6 key questions? Always ask yourself what, why, when, where, how and who? Blindingly simple, right? However, you'd be amazed how many people overlook the simple things in search for the lastest & greatest strategy.
Ok, let's move on with putting the answers to those questions into action and you'll see the entire plan unfold.
What was my objective?
I wanted an avalanche of eyes hypnotized by my little ol' $2 bandit signs so that I was the only person that came to mind if they were needing to sell their house quickly.
To set myself far apart from my perceived competition and brand myself as a 'different' fish in a crowded pool!
Which leads us to the question of…
I then thought realistically when should all of this come together? I decided to give myself a two week time frame to put together a solid action plan, test it and review the trackable results.
Where should it all unfold?
I obviously wanted to test my new strategy in my hometown. It had to be totally different than simply placing double or triple the amount of bandit signs as my competition. That would've only resulted in saturating the marketplace with signs.
How and Who answered?
The answers to these two questions came to me almost simultaneously. Let me explain.
Who exactly could help me with my sign campaign? I asked myself this question as I was on my way to do a drive-by of a few targeted properties from my weekly list. The answer hit me like a Mike Tyson uppercut as I watched a one legged man hobble towards my car with a squeegee in one hand and a bucket of non-potable water hanging from his crutch.
Depending on the population of your city (yes, size matters here but technique is more important), odds are that you see a certain type of people gathered at all of the highest traffic intersections. Yes, I'm talking about your local homeless population.
See where we're headed here?
Now the challenge was to figure out exactly how could I successfully organize a loose band of homeless street folks into my own army of guerrilla marketing evangelists all while providing a service to my community?
From time to time I volunteer at my local soup kitchen (granted, not as often as I probably should but that's something I need to work on). Anyway, I had developed rapport with a few of the local 'regulars' who had been homeless for quite some time and I would see them holding "Will Work For Food" signs throughout town. Like so many folks, I had become somewhat numb to that sight and as a result, I would typically ignore anyone standing on a street corner holding a sign.
Bottom line is this...
I began to think a little differently and concluded "Who better to get my message to the masses than the people who are already spending their days on the highest traffic intersections in my town?"
I then proceeded to make contact with some local folks on the street and after some preliminary negotiating (meaning I suggested a dollar amount and they said ok),we agreed that I would give them each $5.00 up front for holding my signs and then an additional $5.00 (per person) each time that I drove by and saw them still holding my We Buy Houses sign for all of the passing motorists to see. We then arranged a time and place to get started.
Sidenote – How ironic is it to have the homeless advertising "We Buy Houses"? Controversial? Yeah. Newsworthy? You bet it is!
If you saw something like that, you couldn't help but tell everybody you met that day about the whole thing…and that's exactly what I was hoping to achieve.
Now here's the "secret sauce" that made this bandit sign campaign really gain traction. I got the idea of informing the local media of my intention of employing the homeless as a Community Service Project for the day and they ate it up!
On that sunny summer day, I drove over to our meeting location early to hand out signs and crisp $5 dollar bills and then went in to my office to track some deals I had been working on.
Two hours later I returned to the intersection to see a local news van and camera crew setting up so I decided to park across the street in a grocery store parking lot to see how everything unfolded.
Initially, I thought that I might introduce myself to the news team but then decided that it wasn't necessarily about me but more about the message being sent to the public as a result of my elite squad of marketing commandos.
After sitting and watching in amazement for about 45 minutes, I made my rounds and handed out more $5 dollar bills and then went back to the office.
Waiting for me on the office answering machine were already 23 messages from people who had seen the bandit signs in action. Some folks just wanted to inform me that some 'indigent people' had apparently aquired our signs and they didn't think it was good for business so we might want to go round them up (the signs, not the people).
A few others were actually upset that we would exploit the homeless in such a way...riiiiight. Still a few others just wanted to say thanks for actually putting some people to work that day who would otherwise be panhandling.
The bandit sign campaign was obviously working so far! Remember, my mission was to stir people's emotions and get them talking about my $2 bandit signs. At that point, I considered it all a success no matter what people thought or said about my motive for doing this. However, what happened throughout the day really threw me for a loop.
You see, after lunch I checked my voice mail once again and listened to an obviously distraught individual describe how she was in the process of losing her home through foreclosure. She had passed by one of the intersections on her way to work and decided to call the phone number on the sign.
I immediately called her back and agreed to meet with her that afternoon. We were able to put a deal together that solved her pending problem on the spot...putting $5,000 in her pocket and eventually netting my company approximately $26,000 in pure profit!
Again, I was thinking what a great success this entire campaign was. Game over.
But then, over the course of the next week, my office received calls from more than a dozen people wanting to buy a house.
My initial thought was "Huh?" because we weren't advertising any owner-carry deals for sale at the time. But then it became clear that all of these leads were a result of that one day of "bandit sign mayhem".
As a side note, a total of five of those leads actually met our tenant buyer criteria...meaning they had cash in hand to put down on a house. As fate would have it, a couple who called because they needed to buy a house due to recently relocating to the area actually purchased the house I previously mentioned buying from the lady in foreclosure and they gave me $5,500 as Option Consideration.
Moving on, nine days after Operation Bandit Sign Traffic happened I received another phone call form an individual who had seen the previous newscast but had waited to call me.
It turned out that this person had an abandoned house he had been paying taxes on for years and he was sick of dealing with the maintenance headaches as well as complaints from neighbors. We made a deal happen two days later and I quickly flipped the property without even looking at it for a $10,000 assignment fee.
By thinking a little bit differently about how to advertise with bandit signs, the 2 deals that happened soon afterwards resulted in a $37,000 profit within 10 days plus we now had five qualified tenant buyers standing by with cash in hand!
Not only that but in less than 2 week period, the Ultimate Bandit Sign Campaign had successfully brought my company's image into the forefront of the community's mind for less than $100. That's not too bad for a crazy off-the-wall idea of alerting the local media that I was hiring the homeless to hold my bandit signs.
The lesson learned here is to remember that there's a TON of profit to be made by thinking outside the box when it comes to real estate investing. Actually, don't put yourself in a box to begin with and you'll soon be out-performing your competition as you knock out one killer deal after another!
"THE ARCHITECT OF YOUR DESTINY IS YOURSELF"
"SUCCESS WALKS HAND IN HAND WITH FAILURE"