The market is getting crazy out there, and I realize that real estate investors are looking for additional ways to generate motivated seller leads other than direct mail campaigns. That’s smart! You should never put all of your eggs into one basket.
In today’s informative post, I wanted to share with you some interesting facts that I’ve learned about bandit sign marketing. The information in this video isn’t a hypothesis. It’s data that I’ve collected over the years of using bandit signs as part of my consistent and diligent marketing campaign.
You should always be testing different messages, colors, media types, and markets to find out what delivers you the highest and best returns on your marketing dollars. Just blasting out a campaign without split testing different variables may leave you short changed in the end.
Watch the video below, and discover what I’ve found to be the ultimate seller high converting bandit sign, after testing dozens of variations. Then, don’t take my word for it. Test it yourself. And let me know your results! (Results certainly may vary).
DISCLOSURE: Bandit Signs are a violation in most cities across the United States. Putting them out, either in the ground or on telephone poles could result in monetary fines. This training should not be construed as legal protection. Use Bandit Signs at your own risk.
Bandit Sign Basics
When it comes to generating highly motivated and qualified seller leads, bandit signs are at the tippity top of my list. While controversial in nature, they certainly do the prescribed job, which is to get the attention of someone who needs to sell their house. They’re pretty affordable, as well. and Dollar for Dollar, nothing compares quit like the bandit sign.
In 2012, nearly 25% of my closed transactions came from Bandit Sign Advertising. Of those, it made up more than 50% of my income. I made more money from this one single source of leads than any other campaign that we did. In 2013, more then $80,000 was earned from a bandit sign campaign.
I’m always testing and tracking the results from different bandit sign campaigns, so this training page was written to share with you the results of the BEST of EVERYTHING that was tested.
Bandit Sign Testing
I’ve tested numerous fonts, colors, messages, and sizes. I’m not going to tell you that they don’t all work. They ALL Work. What I am going to tell you is which one works the BEST for ME (meaning the one that gets the most calls and conversions).
NOTE: When referring to any bandit sign, I’m referring to a corrugated plastic sign.
How Many Bandit Signs Should I Put Out?
How many leads do you want to get? This question can be answered the same for any type of marketing campaign that you decide to execute. The more signs that you put out, the more leads you will get. The most important thing you can remember about marketing with Bandit Signs (or any form of marketing, for that matter) is consistency. If you put out 100 signs, and you don’t get a deal, don’t give up! It doesn’t work like that. Bandit signs have to be something that becomes part of your business. “On again, off again” isn’t going to deliver.
I have 20 signs put out every day, Monday through Friday. That equals 400 signs per month. . By doing only 20 per day, it only takes 45 minutes – 1 hour. I outsource this process to what I call my “Bandit Boy”. He takes care of getting the signs put out and charges me $1.25 per sign. I don’t pick them up. I leave them out. They end up disappearing anyway. Sometimes after 10 minutes, sometimes after 10 weeks.
If you’re just starting out, my recommendation is that you do at least 100 signs per month (25 per week). Put them out on Friday after 5 pm. and be consistent. Hire someone to do this for you if you can’t carve the time out of your schedule to make sure it’s done every week.
Bandit Sign Size
When you go online to order Bandit signs, you’ll be given numerous options when it comes to your signs. You may be tempted to get crazy with your order, and try something wild. Don’t do it. Keep it simple, clear, and readable.
There’s 2 options that you should choose from when it comes to sizes. Well, really one size – 2 variations. The most common size for a bandit sign is 24″ wide x 18″ high. You probably see most people utilize the 24 x 18 signs. And that’s perfectly ok. I put a little bit of a twist on things, though.
How to Get More Bang Four your Buck
I love to get the most bang for my buck whenever I can. Designing your bandit signs like this is a SURE FIRE way to get more signs for your money! Here’s a way to get 200 bandit signs out of an order of 100!!
When you design your sign online, create 2 signs on 1, so that it can be cut down the middle. Make sure it’s nice and centered so that when its printed on the sign, you can cut it right down the middle and get 2 signs out of it. Here’s an image of what the sign will look like when you create the more bang for Your Buck design:
Or you can watch this video that will show you How to Order Handwritten Signs Online at Dirt Cheap signs. (There’s no audio in this video – it’s meant to make you pay attention to what’s going on.)
This is a great way to make the most of your marketing dollars! The stakes (half or full) will fit in these even when they’re cut in half. Nice, right?
Or if you want The Simple and Classic “One Sign Per Sign” Sign, then it will look like the image below. This will get you a much larger and easier to read sign. But I’ve tested both, and the passer bys can also read the pint sized sign just as well.
Bandit Size Color
Keep this simple too. Order a yellow sign with black lettering or red Lettering.
Bandit Size Font
Too many choices, right? I know. Let’s keep this real simple. Use a handwritten font. It’s ugly and unprofessional and it looks like a Mom and Pop shop. And despite what some people say, normal people like to do business with normal people. I’m sure there are certain cases where they want a big box company to step in. But with motivated sellers, they like to deal with people who understand their situation. People that seem real and down to earth. For these subconscious reasons, using a handwritten font makes you look like a normal person. That’s the handwritten font.
If you use Dirt Cheap Signs , they have several different handwritten fonts that you can choose from that look pretty good on signs. The names of them are ” AKBAR”, “YELLOW JUG”. I’ve included a sample below of what they look like so you can see. It’s definitely good enough for a sign.
Watch this video on how to order your Bandit Signs Online (it’ll make things easier)
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NOTE: THIS IS NOT HOW YOUR SIGNS SHOULD LOOK! THIS IS ONLY AN EXAMPLE OF THE TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF HANDWRITTEN FONTS.
What I like about Dirt Cheap Signs, other than the fact that they’re “dirt cheap” is that you can design your signs online. That’s pretty cool.
Bandit Sign Message
There are plenty of variations of Messages that you can use on your signs. DIRT CHEAP SIGNS has 37 templates that you can choose from. Or, of course, you can create your own. You should definitely test out different messages and see which one gets the best results in your market. I used to use “TRACY BUYS HOUSES” on all of my signs, and even created a sort of branding. That is, until the city started to track me down online and through other various methods (articles in thew newspaper), and figured out who I was. So I HIGHLY advise that you DO NOT use your real name on your bandit signs. You can read the entire Bandit Sign Scandal Story HERE.
I can tell you from all of the testing and tracking that I’ve done with Bandit Signs that using a FEMALE’s name gets a higher response rate than when using a MALE’s name. Don’t ask me why. I don’y fully understand human psychology. But I’ve tested it. And I have first hand results.
You can certainly drill down your target audience with more specific messages. If you decide to test different messages on your signs, TRACK your results. You can do this in Zoho CRM. If one sign is outperforming another, then KEEP ORDERING THAT ONE. And the only way to tell is to track the results.
Google Voice Numbers
Ahhhhh Google Voice. Another one of my favorite topics. Google Voice has done so many wonderful things for my business. Especially keep the city off my back. A very costly mistake is to have your cell phone number OR a land line number on your sign. BAD BAD BAD!! Get a Google Voice Number and learn how to use it.
May I also suggest that you have several different google voice numbers for different types of marketing? This is a great way to track leads and results!
Tracking down the owner of a Google Voice number is virtually impossible. And if a city official can’t determine who OWNS the phone number that’s listed on the signs, then they can’t fine you, can they?? Sneaky, isn’t it. I know. It works great. Be sure that you never put the same phone number on any website that you would use on your sign. It’s too easy to enter the phone number into Google and find a match. This can lead them straight to you. Not cool. Dedicate one google voice number specifically to bandit signs only.
Voice Mail Message
Since you’re going to send all of your callers to a Google Voice VOICEMAIL, you’ll want to tell them exactly what information to leave for you when they call. This is a very important tip, to prevent yourself from calling back a code enforcement guy or a “friendly” neighborhood sign policy guy.
Try to get them to leave as much information that they will on your voice mail. It’s hard to get people to do this, but if you tell them what to do, and give them clear instructions, then they’ll do it. You want them to leave their name, phone number, the property address that they want to sell, and a good time when you can call them back.
With this information, you can verify in your tax records that they ARE the owner of the house. (The sign guys are sneaky. They’ll call posing as a motivated seller with a house for sale). So whenever possible, verify ownership before returning a call. And in a world of phone tag, asking them for the ideal time for you to call them back eliminates alot of that. Be sure to call them back at the time they request.
Here’s a sample voice mail script for you to use on your Google Voice (or whatever number you’re using to handle the calls/voice mails from your bandit sign callers).
Notice in the voice mail script that you don’t state your name. (INCOGNITO) . You may even consider hiring a guy or girl on FIVERR.com to do a voice reading of your script, and upload it into Google Voice. That way your voice isn’t connected to the bandit sign either. It’s totally random. If you’re using a man’s name, get a man to voice over the script. If you’re using a girl’s name, then hire a girl. In the end, though, it doens’t matter what name you use on your sign. The sellers will forget what name they saw. They just want to talk to the decision maker – the one who can buy their house.
Bandit Sign Stakes
There are more than a few ways to post your bandit signs. You can zip tie them to a pole, you can hammer them to a pole using a Sign Stapler and roofing nails, or you can stick them in the ground. I stick mine in the ground. Mainly because it’s the easiest and fastest way to get 20 signs out every day. I must warn you about telephone pole signs, though (at least in our city). The fine for a bandit sign in the ground is $55 – the fine for a bandit sign nailed to a telephone pole is $355. So maybe brush up on the rules converning bandit signs before you decide where to put them.
So if you decide that you want to stick your signs in the ground, you’ll need to order sign stakes. You’ll want to order “Wire H stakes“. (I’ve included the link to Dirt Cheap Signs that takes you directly to their metal stakes). If you’re confused about what size to order, then keep reading.
A 15″ stake will be low to the ground, and are the least expensive. The 30” stake is going to be the taller one. Don’t waste your money on the heavy duty sign stakes. They’re the ones that Realtors use for FOR SALE signs in the front yard of their listings. Definitely not something you want to be sticking out on the side of the road.
They usually come in a box of 50, so remember that when you’re ordering your stakes – especially if you’re doing the “More Bang For Your Buck” method.
Be sure to order VERTICAL FLUTES on your bandit signs so that the “H STAKES” fit into them properly.
Placement of Bandit Signs
Where should you put your signs? That is the question. You want as many people as humanly possible to see your sign, especially since it may not last as long as you think. Sometimes I can put out bandit signs, and on the way home, they’re gone. That’s just how it goes sometimes. It’s not always the city who picks them up, but citizens and members of the community. They get upset about bandit signs, too. And they’ll let you know about it, too. Listen to this voice mail I received from a friendly neighbor. (RATED R)
Here’s a list of a few places where I put my signs on a regular basis:
- Stop Signs
- Traffic Lights at Busy Intersections
- Yield Signs
- On Ramps to Highways
- Movie Theatre Parking Lots
- Pawn Shops
- Telephone Poles (if you hammer them up)
- Places where OTHER Bandit Signs are (they get attention)
Here’s some places where you DON’T want to Put your signs:
- In Someone’s Yard
- Really nice neighborhoods
- In front of mechanic/tire shops (they hate them!)
Bandit Sign Violations
I’m sure you know by now that Bandit Signs are a violation in every city in the United States. Any time you put them out, you’re putting yourself at risk for being fined. The fines in Jacksonville FL for signs in the ground starts at $55 for the first offense, $75 for second, and it keeps escalating from there. For signs nailed to telephone poles, it starts at $355.
In other parts of the U.S., the penalties are much stiffer (Some states can issue a $1000 per sign fine). Before you start putting your signs up all over the place, be sure to check out the rules in your area to see what the potential risk is. The weird thing is, it’s very hard to enforce these fines, especially if you can’t be tracked down (Refer to the Google Voice Number Section).
“Weekend Only” Sign Bandits
City workers have bankers hours. They usually work from 9 am – 5 pm Monday through Friday. If you REALLY want to be cautious about putting out bandit signs, then you can be a weekend bandit. Put your signs out on Friday (you can start around 3:30 pm – 4:00 pm) and pick them up on Sunday evening. This is a little bit of extra work, but it will keep you out of hot water with the city. You’ll still get nasty gram calls from the locals, but there’s nothing they can do (except call the city). By the time they report you, you’ll have picked your signs up.
If you plan on being a weekend sign bandit, be sure to keep a map or notes on where you’ve put your signs. Also, keep your route simple so that picking them up will be simple.
ADVANTAGE OF BEING A WEEKEND BANDIT: You get to use your signs over and over again (SAVES YOU $$$)
DISADVANTAGE OF BEING A WEEKEND BANDIT: You spend more time picking signs up.
Outsourcing Bandit Sign Placement
Putting out bandit signs yourself is kinda bullshit. It’s not fun. But it has to be done. So let’s talk about outsourcing this task. If you have a teenage kid, with a car, you can hire them to put out your signs. When I hired my son, it was the only time I felt confident that my signs were getting put out. I never had to worry.
It’ used to be very hard to monitor whether or not someone is actually doing it, without getting in the car and looking yourself to see if they’re out. I’ve been through at least 20 people over the last 15 years, trying to find someone willing to do this, and that I could trust. I haven’t had much luck yet. They’re great in the beginning, and then they start to taper off. You start noticing a change in behavior. They’re not so enthusiastic any more about putting out signs. Then, they end up dumping your stack of signs in a dumpster somewhere.
Read this article that I wrote about my latest Bandit Sign guy and what happened with him.
Until recently, it was very frustrating wondering if your signs were getting put out l ike they said. That is, until I discovered (through a fellow mobster, in fact) the APP for your Mobile Device called SIMPLECREW!!
This app allows the bandit sign guy to take a photo every time he sticks a sign out, which date and time stamps it, and also pins it on a map right inside the app! All you have to do to confirm that the signs are out is login from your desktop, laptop, or your smartphone and open the app! There they are!!
Using Bandit Signs to Sell Houses
Unfortunately, most people only use bandit signs to find motivated sellers and neglect this inexpensive little tool entirely when it comes to finding buyers. I can tell you that we personally sell more than 35% of all of our properties on bandit signs alone. Each tie we get a new property under contract, a task is automatically created in Zoho CRM that tells us to put out 10 bandit signs. The messages on these signs vary a little bit, but we do have a list that we choose from (as far as what to write on each sign). Here is some the Verbiage that we use on our signs.
Putting bandit signs out to sell your properties will kill 2 birds with one stone. #1, you’ll sell the property. #2 You’ll build a buyers list. Anytime someone calls off of your signs, interested in BUYING a property, you can pre-screen them a little bit and, if qualified, add them to your cash buyers list.
Setting up Bandit Sign Campaigns in Zoho CRM
With any marketing campaign, you want to track and measure your results. By using a dedicated Google Voice number on your bandit signs, you’ll be able to easily track your results form your campaigns. Be sure to set up a new campaign in Zoho CRM (if you use it) or whichever CRM that you’re currently using. When you get a call from one of your signs, be sure to enter the lead into Zoho, even if it isnt a motivated seller! This way you can review the data that you’ve collected after 30 days or so, and analyze the results. You’ll be able to quickly determine how many leads you can generate from the amount of signs you’re putting out. You’ll also be able to tell how much each lead that calls is worth. You’ll also discover how many calls it takes before you actually land a hot one!! This data is mesmerizing to me, which I’m a big stickler for tracking data and using a good CRM.
No matter what, KEEP PUSHING FORWARD and stay consistent on your marketing plans! GOOD LUCK, MOBSTER.
BANDIT SIGN VERBIAGE AND EXAMPLES OF GOOD/BAD SIGNS WHEN USED TO SELL HOUSES
Once you watch the video, leave your comments below and tell me what YOU’RE highest converting bandit sign is.