Concepts of a Mail Merge 101 (LA 817)
Steven Butala: Steve and Jill here.
Jill DeWit: Hello.
Steven Butala: Welcome to the Land Academy Show, entertaining land investment talk. I’m Steven Jack Butala.
Jill DeWit: And I’m Jill DeWit, broadcasting from sunny southern California.
Steven Butala: Today Jill and I talk about the concepts of a mail merge 101.
Jill DeWit: Everything good over there?
Steven Butala: After I turn my phone off. Welcome to our reality show.
Jill DeWit: Are we keeping you from something?
Steven Butala: You want to know the truth? Here’s the truth.
Jill DeWit: Tell us.
Steven Butala: I have an alarm set on my phone for every hour, on the hour.
Jill DeWit: Yeah, guess it is right.
Steven Butala: Because I’m launching something shortly here called the Daily Show, where it’s just every hour I take a picture or I submit a little video of exactly what I’m working on. We just had this live event. We just had the first Land Academy live event and everybody just wanted to dig deeper. How do you handle this? How do you handle this, Steve? What do you do in here? How do you manage your time? That was the biggest one. So every hour, I’m … An hour ago, I ran through my email and explained exactly on, on a screen, what I’m working on and why there’s only about 7 things in my email. And why most people fail …
Jill DeWit: I have like 70 in mine.
Steven Butala: It’s 700 in most people’s. This is totally off topic, but most people use their inbox as a to-do list. I refuse to let my email control me.
Jill DeWit: And you’re right.
Steven Butala: And I talked about that. So that’s why my alarm went off. I will release the Steve Daily Show about a week from now.
Jill DeWit: Cool.
Steven Butala: Because I don’t have enough stuff to do.
Jill DeWit: Yeah. That’s a good idea.
Steven Butala: Today’s topic … Where am I? Today Jill and I talk about the concepts of a mail merge 101. This is kind of a Jill episode. She’s got hers all locked in together.
Jill DeWit: I do.
Steven Butala: In perfect Jill and Steve form, I created this concept and then Jill came in and Jill-ified it. Just made it really work for us and made it better.
Jill DeWit: Thank you.
Steven Butala: Before we get into the topic though, let’s take a question. Posted by one of our members on the landinvestors.com online community. It’s free.
Jill DeWit: Mike asks, “Hi all. I sent an offer letter to an owner of a 40 acre parcel. And he called me back and said he would be glad to sell but not at my offer price because there is a long dormant volcano on the property and I know what it’s worth.”
Steven Butala: Why would you wanna own a volcano, by the way?
Jill DeWit: Oh my gosh. Anyone have experience with special assets on a property? Looking forward to hearing your story. Thanks. Oh, Mike. It’s not funny. He thinks that’s an asset, he thinks that’s an attribute. Who’s gonna build next to a dormant, long active or whatever … Potentially dangerous volcano. Didn’t we all see the movie Volcano? Do we not …
Steven Butala: There are no shortage of landowner freaks on this planet.
Jill DeWit: Yes.
Steven Butala: In fact we covered this in our last live event. Let’s say there’s an oil well on a … Jill and I did a real estate deal where there was a functioning oil and gas pump on the thing. And it came with a lease, and it was an income producing property, and you know what I did? I killed the deal. It’s not in our wheel house. That is not our M.O. We buy a piece of real estate, and we immediately sell it for more. We do it with rural vacant land, infill lots, and houses. We only mark it up so that we’re insure that we can sell it very, very quickly.
It’s the day trading of real estate. Oil and gas well is only gonna complicate things. Could we have made tons and tons of money on it? Maybe. But I have to learn about oil and gas. And the time that it would take, Jill’s famous for saying this, the time that it would take to actually maximize that asset and resell it … We could have sold 40 properties with our little silly flipping concept.
Jill DeWit: We all talked about this as a group in great detail last weekend. Think of it as … Its surface rights. That’s really what we’re interested in and we wanna be able to have the person who buys it from us use it. And I’m not sure what they could do with that. Other than use it … Maybe it’s a movie studio background. Now if you have that attitude, baby. [crosstalk 00:04:26]
Steven Butala: Oh, the volcano?
Jill DeWit: Yeah. It’s not worth discussing and getting into it and learning about it at all.
Steven Butala: I would have turned off the phone at, “I own a volcano,”
Jill DeWit: Yeah, the minute he said volcano, I would’ve been, “Well, have a nice day.” Just because I’m too afraid of that. Maybe somebody’s not, but I personally am. I don’t need to get over that fear, I have 6 more deals here for me to review this hour.
Steven Butala: Exactly. So, to answer your question directly: Yes, we have tremendous amount of experience with special asset types of real estate, and we always pass on them. Are we passing on some huge potential? Yep.
Jill DeWit: Possibly. Are we doing just fine? Yeah. Take the easy ones.
Steven Butala: This is what I said in the live event. I would rather hit singles, base hit singles, all season long and never, ever hit a home run ever and have the greatest batting average in the league.
Jill DeWit: Yeah. Thank you.
Steven Butala: Today’s topic, the concepts of a mail merge 101. This is the meat of the show. Take it away, Jill.
Jill DeWit: Okay. There are basically … We covered yesterday the overview of a mail merge. Is this blocking you?
Steven Butala: No it’s okay.
Jill DeWit: Okay, good. Thank you. So I have some notes here. We covered basically the concepts of a mail merge and hope you walked away knowing that it’s two documents that get merged together to go out getting our offers in the hands of thousands of people at a time. That’s what it is. Now I wanna go down to the basics of it, really kind of explain what these two documents are.
There’s an Excel document, and then there’s a word document. So let me first talk about … I’m gonna talk about the easy one. First is the word document. Both of these items, there are examples if you go to our website. Off one of our websites. One of our 25 websites … Just kidding. If you go to Offers2Owners.com, click on forms, and scroll down and you’ll see there’s land templates and house templates too, depending what you’re sending offers to.
So first, if you go there and you look at the word document. That’s the document that doesn’t change. That document consists of page 1, which is an introduction. It’s the first page of your document, of your offer campaign. It’s 2 pages that are gonna out to these potential sellers, to the land owners that you’re targeting that you wanna buy their property. So the first page says, “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Smith, here’s a little bit about me, a little bit about my company, how long I’ve been in business, how I got your information, it’s public knowledge from the county website.” Just a little bit enough for them to open up and go, “Why am I getting this letter and who are you?”
That’s what the introduction page is. The second page is an actual purchase agreement. That has all the closing details listed on there, which is the property information, how much you wanna buy it for, maybe there’s a deadline if this is good until whatever day, and how the transaction would unfold. Like, here’s a normal thing, you need to sign this and send it back if you accept my offer, and here are the next steps.
Also on that page, which is another nice thing to make everybody breathe here because this comes up, are my or your buyer contingencies. So you’re sending them a real purchase agreement, and it says, “I really wanna buy your property for this price.” For them to sign it and send it back, I don’t want you to panic and think that, “What if they send it back, I have to do it.” No, on that is all contingent upon you now. Reviewing the property again, double checking the tax situation, making sure it meets your criteria … There’s all kinds of different things in there that you have an out, basically. If you get this offer back and go, “Wait a minute. This guy owes more taxes on it than even my offer price. This isn’t gonna work.” You have things like that that you can basically get out of the transaction if you want to.
It’s very professional and clear and upfront. It’s transparent. That’s one of the things too, I think why we do so well and this is so well-received is because of that.
Now the second part that I talked about is an Excel file. So you have this word document that’s a constant. Now you know what it is, these are what the splits in this offer letter that’s going out. How do I make it unique to 1500 or 3000 letters I wanna send out at one time? Well, what you do is you have an Excel file. What that contains is … Part of it is variable data, which is line-by-line each specific owner’s information. Like the name of the owner, that’s gonna show up on the letter.
Steven Butala: May I interject real quick?
Jill DeWit: Sure, if you wanna …
Steven Butala: Each line in that Excel file that’s feeding into Jill’s offer template is an offer that goes out. So if there’s 1500 lines, there’s 1500 offers. And each column in that spreadsheet is, let’s say, one column might be the owner’s name. The next column might be the owner’s address. The next one might be-
Jill DeWit: Offer price.
Steven Butala: An offer price, and they’re all different.
Jill DeWit: And the property details …
Steven Butala: It’s the data that feeds into that spreadsheet. When you merge them together, they create a PDF. It’ll be 1500 pages long, literally.
Jill DeWit: Times 2. Well because it’s two pages.
Steven Butala: Go ahead, Jill. I just wanted to make that clear.
Jill DeWit: Thank you very much. So yeah. You’ll have variable … Like you just said, then you’re gonna have that mail merge Excel file spreadsheet with owner name, owner address, offer price, APN, property address, whatever it is. You’re also gonna have a couple columns it’s gonna get merged right in. We’re not gonna reinvent the wheel here, we’re gonna make this easy. Has your name, your company information, all this stuff that also gets all merged in so it’s so easy.
Now, if the words mail merge make you sweat, don’t worry. My team, for free, will do the mail merge. Some of our customers choose to just push the button, do the mail merge themselves, eyeball the completed document … What you do is save it as a PDF and then they mail it to us. It’s literally ready to go out in the mail, and then it goes right out.
Steven Butala: It’s still cheaper. There’s no cheaper place to do it.
Jill DeWit: There’s no price difference, believe it or not. Some people say, “I don’t wanna do it. I scrubbed all my data, I have it in the columns,” When I say scrub, I mean you remove the people you don’t wanna send. You remove the extra columns that you don’t need. You can leave them if you want to, but …
Steven Butala: Well said, Jill.
Jill DeWit: And you’ve got it to the point where it’s really easy for us to work with. And how do you know what it is for us to work with? There’s a template on Offers2Owners under forms. You just pull download and there’s an example right there, like hey, when you’re all done with your data, as long as you have your columns that are named like this, it will merge perfectly. So like I said, if that makes you panic, you can send your ready-to-go 1500 lines, I’ll just choose that number, you’re sending 1500 offers to that group of people and we’ll do it for you.
Then what happens is my team, they get your Excel file, and we have your template, they do the mail merge for you. It’s a 2 page thing, so now you have 3000 pages in a PDF file. My team will send it back to you for you to … They eyeball it first, by the way. They run it through all kinds of things to make sure that the properties gonna fit, everything’s gonna fit in the window just right for the envelope. And they make sure that we have … You know, what if something happened in your data where 30% of the cities didn’t populate. They’ll work with you and make it perfect.
Steven Butala: Yeah, stuff happens.
Jill DeWit: You’re not gonna waste any money. I mean, that’s a valuable asset right there that I know that our members appreciate. You’re not gonna send it to us and it’s not just gonna go out.
Steven Butala: Yeah. We’re gonna check it.
Jill DeWit: We’re gonna check it. Also, we run it through to make sure they’re deliverable addresses. That’s a huge benefit, too.
Steven Butala: You’re not gonna waste the postage.
Jill DeWit: I know I’ve talked to a lot of people that have worked with other mail companies and said, “Gosh. All these were undeliverable and they all got returned.” We don’t have a high percentage of that. We run them through those systems … An added value that we provide there. Anyway, so then you eyeball the PDF. We’re not gonna make sure line-by-line you priced it right kind of thing. That’s for you …
Steven Butala: That’s exactly what we’re not gonna do. We’re not gonna price the mailer for you, but everything else is done.
Jill DeWit: Exactly. So I want you to eyeball it. The beginning, the end. Just make sure, “Yep. That’s what I wanna offer for that. That’s what I wanna offer for that.” Just a handful of them, and you just send a note back to my team and however they … I don’t remember even how they communicate. But somehow you approve it, and then it’s in the mail. You do it fast enough, say 1:00 that day, it’s gonna go out in the mail that same day.
Sorry, I have a lot to say about this.
Steven Butala: We’ve been doing this for 20 years. We’ve made all the mistakes. We’ve sent out the wrong kind of mail to the wrong people, we’ve sent out postcards, we’ve done that … So learn from us. The templates are there and they’re free and they work.
Jill DeWit: I wanna add to that. We had a lengthy, lengthy discussion about this this weekend at our event. I know we were talking about it a lot because we came back with so much good information. Even with our heavy-hitters there, and it was great, we are all in agreement of don’t change it. Don’t change what works. There’s something about no phoniness on the envelope. You don’t wanna be kissing it, or putting special offer, or bright ink, or different colors. That screams unprofessional. It’s a little bit of a gimmick. That’s what it is, and you don’t wanna do that.
Also, we all are in a big agreement of let’s not try and skimp on this and do a 2 pager, cram it into 1. Because now we have too much information on 1 page and it just doesn’t seem as professional. You wanna get a nice comer page and then a separate offer. Like Steven just said, trust me we’ve tested them. We really have gone down those paths and realized this is what gets the best response, and our community agrees.
Steven Butala: What you wanna concentrate on is pricing. That’s really what’s going to dramatically make you succeed at this. You can do every single thing right and if your pricing’s off … If you’re offering 500 dollars for a skyscraper, this is a dramatic example, but that’ll never work. If you send it to the wrong people, if you send it to people who own industrial property and you really wanted to buy a rural vacant land, never gonna work. What you wanna do is leave the details of a mail merge to us. We’ve done it before and we have a whole company packed with people who are professional mail merge people by who we’ve personally trained.
So forget about that. Just get good data. You wanna concentrate on the contents of that Excel spreadsheet. The backend of the mailer that Jill has described. That’s truly what will make you succeed here. Spend all your time on that, send all the rest of the stuff to us. We’ll get it in the mail effectively.
Jill DeWit: Thank you.
Steven Butala: And we came up with all of this as a request … For years now, we’ve had members who would give us feedback like, “I can price it, but I’m tired of doing …”
Jill DeWit: “I can’t get it in the mail. Who are you using?” And we solved it.
Steven Butala: So we created this product for them. And for you.
Jill DeWit: Thank you.
Steven Butala: Well, you’ve done it again. You’ve spent another 15 minutes or so listening to the Land Academy Show. Join us next time, where we talk about how to price your offer campaign what I just talked about.
Jill DeWit: And answer your questions posted on our online community LandInvestors.com. It’s free.
Steven Butala: You are not alone in your real estate ambition. Were you done?
Jill DeWit: Yes. I think so. I’m looking at my notes here, it’s good I’ve covered it all. I wanted to really cover the concepts and the details.
Steven Butala: You did. It was great.
Jill DeWit: I hope as you’re listening that gives you a good visual of what is involved. It sounds like, “Oh man. We’re downloading data, we’re putting them in these offers. Wow, there’s a lot involved there.” We’ll help you.
Steven Butala: Yeah. There’s a lot involved in pricing, which we’ll talk about tomorrow. There’s a lot involved in choosing the right people to send offers to correctly. And outside of that, that’s the real talent here. There’s tons of stuff that Jill and I outsource. We never outsource pricing or data scrubbing. I personally do it.
Jill DeWit: Thank you. Share the fun by subscribing at iTunes or YouTube, or wherever you are watching or listening. And while you’re at it, please rate us there.
We are Steve and Jill.
Steven Butala: We are Steve and Jill. Information …
Jill DeWit: … And inspiration …
Steven Butala: To buy undervalued property.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me directly at steven@BuWit.com.
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