Publish a Custom Neighborhood Newspaper Faster and for Less Money
With 2020 quickly approaching, we’re overjoyed to roll out perhaps the fastest, easiest, and least expensive custom direct mail real estate publication the industry has ever seen: our Fast Track Publication. This new, quick and easy custom farming publication is available for mailbox delivery as early as January 1, 2020.
The Fast Track will save agents both time and money (See the price rates for the Fast Track), and still has all the lead generating power of Discover’s standard edition. In fact, it’s likely to generate even more leads – because agents using an easier direct mail tool are likely to mail more often.
What’s a Custom Farming Publication?
Back in 1993, Discover Publications created the first-ever custom farming publication for real estate agents (or any industry, for that matter, since nothing like it had ever been created). Put simply, a custom farming publication is a direct mail marketing tool that looks like a little community newspaper.
Below we outline the three major elements of a custom publication (whether it’s a standard or Fast Track edition). From design to mailbox deliver, Discover handles every single step for the agent.
1. Custom without all the Cost
Each publication is customized to just one real estate agent (on the front, back, and throughout), while also containing national articles that appeal to homeowners. This mix of hyper-local customization and nationally syndicated content keeps the production cost of each publication very reasonable.
Because each publication has just the right amount of custom, local content, it’s highly encouraged that agents do not attempt to customize further. Making every page of a paper custom takes an enormous amount of time away from the agent’s day-to-day, and the cost-benefit just isn’t there. Agents report that publications with syndicated content inside are just as effective as publications that are painstakingly customized throughout.
The power of a custom publication truly is the front and back. Even if a reader never opens it, the agent is branded as a big deal; as a leader capable of publishing a thick 12-pager.
2. Hyper-local Content
Every publication (including the new Fast Track) contains a good deal of hyper-local content. The agent has 100% creative control over all their local content; however, Discover does 100% of the work for them. This includes:
- Custom-written, hyper-local cover story (this is written by Discover in the agent’s name). Typically, it’s a local market update or an article about selling a home locally
- Second custom-written, hyper-local article on Page 3 (also written by Discover in the agent’s name). Most often, this article features local events
- Hyper-local housing market stats
- Calls to action (advertisements) about the local agent
- The agent’s local listings or recently sold homes
The most important part of a real estate direct mail marketing is what’s visible on the front. The customization of a publication focuses mainly on the front and back, for this reason. If the content on the front is local, chances are better that the homeowner will pull it aside instead of tossing it in the recycle bin.
Each publication is created 100% by Discover, and then sent to the agent for final approval.
3. Mailed to your Farm
Once a custom publication is designed, it is printed, addressed, sorted, and mailed to the carrier routes in an agent’s exclusive farming area. The agent selects their target areas online, and Discover handles the rest.
Some agents will mail their paper to their past clients in addition to their farm; in those cases, they simply send a spreadsheet of addresses to Discover and those homes are added to the list. Once a publication is in the hands of the post office, the agent receives a notification.
How is the Fast Track Publication different from a Standard one?
As a farming tool, the Fast Track is 95% similar Discover’s standard 12-page paper
Both editions include:
- 12 pages
- Extensive customization (see above)
- 2 custom-written local articles in the agent’s name
- Full-service graphic designer
- Mailing lists
- Mail service (sorting, addressing, USPS delivery)
- Advertising program (to help agents get vendors to offset the cost)
What’s different about the Fast Track is a slightly tweaked layout, a lower price, and a pre-scheduled print date. Here’s a closer look at exactly how a Fast Track and Standard edition differ.
How “Calls to Action” (agent or vendor ads) appear[metaslider id=”14046″]
The Fast Track has four “Call to Action” boxes, which are essentially blank spaces filled by the designer. Two of these boxes are designed to advertise the agent, and the other two are reserved for vendor advertisements. If the agent doesn’t have enough vendors to fill both of the two vendor spots, Q&A real estate articles are placed in those spaces instead.
In a Standard edition, there are five total Call to Action boxes. Rather than being earmarked either for the agent or a vendor, they are customized however the agent wishes.
Location of Market Stats
Both editions contain hyper-local, custom market stats. In the Fast Track, these stats appear on the back cover. In the Standard edition, they can be found on Page 3.
The Fast Track contains a good deal of customization (see above, under “Hyper-local Content”). The agent has 100% creative control over their front and back covers, Call to Action boxes, and hyper-local articles. But outside of these custom areas, the layout of each Fast Track cannot be adjusted at all. This means that the agent cannot swap articles, re-order pages, or request any design modifications to any “non-custom” parts of the publication.
In the Standard Edition, the agent has a little more room to move things around and add additional custom content (but fees do apply in cases of extreme alterations).
Discover’s pricing continues to rise on the Standard Edition due, in part, to increases in the average time it takes to put each paper out. Many agents tend to customize just as much as they can without triggering a fee; spread across all the agents we serve, these production hours add up to more cost for everyone. Rather than improving results, too much customization instead causes farming to be inconsistent, resulting in patchy branding, reduced lead flow, and fewer listings generated.
The Fast Track is a way we can pass along the lower cost of a truly turn-key publication to any agent who wishes to take advantage of it – all without sacrificing leads or listings.
A Fast Track edition starts at $0.85 for 2,500 or more, and gets cheaper from the more you do. Compare this to $0.92 per unit for 2,500 Standard papers (2020 rates). And, unlike the Standard Edition, the Fast Track can be done in quantities as low as 2,000, for $0.87 a unit.
Just like pricing for the Standard Edition, the Fast Track rates include everything (design, articles, printing, mail service, postage, and more). The Fast Track rates that are posted today will apply for all of 2020.
Savings on top of savings
Any promotions Discover runs can be applied to Fast Track editions (they aren’t just for Standard runs). For example, new clients who want to do a Fast Track can also take advantage a $600 credit for 2020 (restrictions apply, call for more details on that).
But the best way to reduce cost even further – on top of the lower Fast Track prices – is to secure a few good advertisements. Discover can help with every aspect of advertising, saving clients an average of 15-20%.
Reserved Print Date
Finally, the Fast Track differs from a Standard edition when it comes to scheduling a print date.
Standard Publications are printing “on demand,” and the because Discover’s estimates do not always pan out, the cost of idle labor and machinery is built in to the pricing of a Standard paper. A Standard edition can be scheduled with as little as 2 days’ notice, and can be re-scheduled without any changes to the price.
A Fast Track print date must be reserved 30 days ahead of time. This is one of the primary ways the cost of a Fast Track is lower. Discover pre-schedules labor and machinery in advance, avoiding the uncertaintly when there’s a lot of guesswork involved.
Once a print date is set for a Fast Track, it cannot be adjusted within the 30-day window leading up to it.
Don’t worry, there is no fee for a delayed or missed Fast Track date. If a Fast Track print date is adjusted less than 30 days in advance, the publication can still go to print according to whatever schedule the agent wishes, but it will be considered a Standard edition and priced accordingly. If an agent can’t keep her schedule print date would rather not pay the Standard rates, she can schedule a new Fast Track 30 days out instead.
How does the Fast Track work?
Set it Up
To publish a Fast Track, an agent simply needs to submit the Get Started form, then attend a short call to set up the publication with Discover.
On this call, Discover will help the agents identify the mail routes he or she will be farming, discuss how the publication will be customized to best resonate with the market, and create a farming schedule for the next 12 months.
There are no contracts, and the agent can choose to mail according to whatever frequency makes sense for them (monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly). And the print schedule can be adjusted as often as desired outside of the 30-day window.
Two weeks prior to each scheduled publication, the agent’s designer will reach out with a short list of materials needed (article topic selections and listings, usually). The agent simply emails those items to their assigned designer.
Approve and Pay
In less than three business days after receiving the agent’s materials, the designer sends the agent a completed Proof. The agent simply approves the design, remits payment (which can be easily done online, from an invoice sent via email), and the paper will print according to schedule.