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Is Canned Fodder Good? Dear Ginny WTH

dear ginny series

Dear Ginny WTH,

I’m thinking about signing up with one of those services that provides me with monthly marketing materials to send out to my past client homeowners. For $89 per month I get copy that I can place in a letter and a companion professionally printed glossy slick to include with the letter. What do you think about programs like these?
-Wondering in Wisconsin

Dear Wondering,

I am not a big fan of canned fodder. I know when it appears to you it looks good because it’s automated and all you have to do is basically hit send, but let’s consider all sides.

Direct mail can be very effective. It depends on the content, media and delivery method.


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As a homeowner, right now in this market, do I really care about ways to make my landscaping better or would I rather know what the dynamics of the market, i.e. listed, sold and pending homes in my neighborhood (town, city, zip) and what that all means to me as a person that owns a property in a crappy market?

I think the latter is a better way to go. The data is there for you. Just do a quick print of the month’s activity through the MLS. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but just make sure you cover the activity with some interpretation. Nothing more frustrating than being given the numbers without any explanation. I’m left to try and interpret myself. You’re the expert. Tell me what it means.


The canned fodder comes in different formats offline including postcards, letters and slicks, oh my. None of these are better/worse than the other you simply determine the content, which leads to choosing the best media for communicating the message.

As with the above example of market metrics, the best way to express numbers and figures would be in a longer format such as a letter and subsequent 8 ½ x 11 pages with the market data. What I do recommend if you use a letter to deliver a message that you print on the outside of the envelope for a higher open rate, especially if it’s to an audience that doesn’t necessarily know you. If you are mailing to your past clients then your open rate is higher from the start.

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With any printed piece you can either hand deliver it or mail it or hand it out at a public forum. If you are talking about past clients, they are probably too spread out and it would be hard to hand deliver to them. But you can mail the stats to them, and if the list is not too exhaustive, you can follow up with a phone call to see if they have questions, if they want a home valuation or if they know of anyone buying or selling. Or, why not try walking a neighborhood with market stats? Mail to past clients, walk the info in a neighborhood farm.

If you use the canned fodder you run the risk of another real estate agent farming your clients and/or target farm with the same information. That wouldn’t look good now would it?

Check the expiration date on that canned fodder and I think you’ll see that it’s out of date.

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Ginny is a 360 degree marketing specialist with over a decade of experience in real estate-related fields. She’s held senior level marketing positions at Alain Pinel Realtors and Prudential California, Nevada and Texas Realty. She left the corporate world in 2007 to start her own marketing communications company, Cain Communications. She markets to segments that matter using media that matters. Follow her on Twitter @ginnycain.



  1. Elaine Reese

    July 29, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Ginny, I agree with your position. Original is better. I just sent out my quarterly newsletter which I designed and write completely myself. All the data and charts that I include were done very specific to my area. I also include tidbits or pieces of info that I think might be newsworthy to my readers.

    A few days after I sent mine out, I received one of the canned newsletters from a favorite lender. The info was so sterilized that it was hardly worth reading. Yes, the canned versions are quick & easy, but there’s an unmeasurable cost to that.

    My broker provides excellent materials for us to use. However, I’ve always done “my own thing”. My reason for designing all my own materials is that I want to stand out from the other 500 agents in my brokerage. How could I convince a seller that “I’m different” if my materials are just like everyone elses.

    In my corporate marketing life, we used to call it a “compelling competitive difference” to get the consumer to pick our products off the shelf and put them into the shopping cart. I want to be the one the client puts in their cart and not be a commodity. (I once wrote a blog post on that subject)

  2. RealEstate Babble

    July 29, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    AgentGenius: Is Canned Fodder Good? Dear Ginny WTH Full

  3. tomferry

    July 29, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Ginny- 100% with you on this.

    Be real, relevant and deliver whatever message your farm/niche wants to hear, in the format they want to hear it in.

    Ask the question in your next email campaign or talk to some folks … LISTEN to the answer. You may be surprised. It’s about making your marketing and business By Design.


  4. Daniel Bates

    July 29, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    In addition to being a real estate agent/blogger I also work for the Real Estate Tomato. At the beginning of the year we partnered with to deliver “canned” content to our clients that wanted to sign up for the services. At first I was appalled at the idea. The Tomato teaches content is king and to write unique original material and now we’re promoting it?? But after I saw the quality of the post and what BringTheBlog’s Dan Green’s take on his own services, I actually supported the idea. See you still write local content like only you know how to provide and do it in your own voice that gives readers a taste of your personality and what makes you a great agent, BUT you supplement those articles with the canned material. Dan sees it as changing your position from writer to editor and the Tomato’s Jim Cronin says, “If it is used as a crutch, then it certainly goes against the core philosophy that we have beat into our clients. However, if it is used as a way to support one’s content, then I can certainly see some who will jump at the chance.”

  5. Wesner Michel

    July 30, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Is Canned Fodder Good? Dear Ginny WTH | Real Estate Opinion MAG …: Dear Ginny WTH, I’m thinking about sign..

  6. Rebound Management

    July 30, 2009 at 1:57 am

    "Dear Ginny WTH: Is canned fodder good? | Real Estate Opinion…" Montero Credit is reading :

  7. Joe Loomer

    July 30, 2009 at 7:02 am


    “…would be in a longer format such as a letter and subsequent 8 ½ x 11 pages with the market data…”

    Could have written that myself. That’s EXACTLY what I do – and I use TP to print my envelopes so I can modify the outside to include something in the bottom left in a different font and color to say something like “April Housing Report for Augusta” or something similar. My clients know it’s relevant data.

    I get great feedback, calls and emails if I’m even slightly late or there’s a Federal Holiday holding up the mail.

    It is the best possible way for you to establish yourself as the economist and market expert of choice for your clients and prospects. Lead with revenue – do what works and throw away the canned spam.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  8. Ginny Cain

    July 30, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Joe, the power of consistent and relevant information. People call or email you if they don’t get your report. Home run!

  9. Mark Jacobs

    July 30, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    I use Top Producer to print my letters and postcards, but I do not use any of the canned materials. I have created all my own materials with the same look and feel so that it builds my brand.

    Augusta Real Estate

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