One of our personal favorite ways to market our business is with the use of signs. Signs are usually the most effective lead generator for the real estate entrepreneur. Signs are seen by a far larger audience than most other marketing methods. They tend to pull in a far greater number of leads than just about any other advertising.
We do prefer to have them printed professionally, but this can be cost prohibitive when you are starting out. You can make effective signs yourself with materials available at any office supply store, or larger discount department stores. Most craft stores will also carry the materials that you need to make inexpensive signs on your own.
You may have heard these types of signs referred to as “Bandit signs” on occasion. You know the type, I’m sure you’ve seen them while driving in your area. Many of them are selling various things, like weight loss, work at home, or health insurance, mortgages, and perhaps even some folks offering to Buy Houses!
What should my sign say?
Again, we want to keep things consistent throughout our marketing, so we use the same message, or one very much like our other marketing materials. We want them to be easily read and remembered. When someone is driving by a sign, they need to get your message, or at least enough of your message to encourage them to slow down and read more, in just a glimpse.
We use the same text on our signs as we do on all of our marketing-
I BUY HOUSES!
We take over payments
No equity, no problem
We will buy or lease your house
You want to include a phone number of course, and your website. And of course, what you do! (You buy houses!)
What should my sign look like?
We like to use bright colors that stand out as the background. Yellow, white, and orange all seem to stick out as people drive by. The print should be large enough that it is easily read while passing by. You do not want to use a fancy font. Use something that is easy to read and clear from a distance.
What can I make signs with? And how?
We are not professional sign makers, nor are we artists. Making signs is really not something I was ever good at, but they worked well. There are a few different ways to make them that we have used. We will list them in order of what was the easiest.
- Card stock signs. You can purchase 8.5 x 11 card stock at most office supply stores and larger discount stores. If your computer has an ink jet printer, you can use this to print your message on the card stock. You may want to look into getting a waterproof ink cartridge for your printer. You should make the text as large as will fit on the sign, perhaps using a shorter message, like “I Buy Houses xxx-xxx-xxxx”. This at least gets the point across and is easier to read. You can also just use a permanent marker to print them by hand. In order to make them last longer, you may want to either laminate them, or place them inside cheap plastic report covers. We’ll cover sign placement later on here.
- Larger homemade signs. We suggest using something that is at least 18” x 24”. You can buy corrugated plastic sign sheets at many arts and crafts stores, or sign supply houses. You may even use poster board, and get it laminated or covered in some tape material. There is also foam poster board that is somewhat water resistant. You can hand draw your message on them with markers. In my opinion though, this looks bad most of the time, and is harder to read. Using stencils and cardboard seems to look better. Just get a set of stencils that are large enough to be read easily from a distance or while passing by. Trace your message onto a piece of cardboard at the same size as you want your sign to be. After you trace the stencils out, use a blade of some kind to cut out the stencils. This will then create a nice template for you. You now just lay this over your sign material, and spray paint on your message in the color of your choosing.
- Stakes. The type of stake that you will need for your signs depends on the type of material that you have used to produce them. If you are using coroplast, you can buy thin wire “step stakes” at most local sign shops. They are usually anywhere from 50 cents to a dollar each based on how many stakes you buy. These stakes fit neatly into the “fluting” in the corrugated plastic. However, if you are using poster board or some other similar material, you can simply get wooden stakes from a home improvement store. You can then use a staple gun to attach the signs to the stakes. You can also use heavy duty duct tape to attach the signs to the stakes.
How should I place my sign? And Where?
This is somewhat of a sticky issue. In many localities it is against local laws, ordinances and rules to place these types of signs in certain places. We are in no way advocating placing signs where they are prohibited, nor do we take any responsibility regarding where you place your signs. We will merely tell you a few places we have put our signs.
You should always be aware of where you can legally place your signs, and follow the law. Should you place signs where they are prohibited, you do so at your own risk. Fines, fees and actions taken against businesses and people who place such signs vary from area to area. Some places only remove the signs, while others cite you with fines or court actions.
With that said, here are some of the ways in which we have displayed our signs.
- Roadside with stakes.– We have used wooden stakes on many occasions. You can generally purchase a bundle of “Contractor Stakes” at most home improvement warehouses and lumberyards for a relatively low price. We just pound the stakes into the ground, and then attach the sign afterwards with either a staple gun or washer headed screw, depending on the sign material. We make sure to pound the stake in first. The pounding often makes the sign come off the stake and tear if done in the reverse.Of course, an easier method is to simply use corrugated plastic signs with thin metal wire “step stakes”. That way, you can simply jump out of your car and push the stake into the ground with sign already attached. This can be preferable when driving around and stopping every so often to set up a sign.The best place to put your signs using this method is at a busy intersection, preferably at a traffic light. Think about it. When you are sitting at a red light and there happens to be a billboard or some sort of sign nearby, don’t you read it? It may be for something that you would never need, but your eyes just need something to keep them busy while you sit and wait for the light to change.You can also place your signs right outside of the neighborhoods that you want to invest in. This helps you use the signs to “target” your marketing. Make sure that you are not placing these signs on private property when placing them near neighborhoods. Again, look for major intersections and places where traffic has to sit for a while, such as a stop sign.
- Utility poles, wooden– We have often nailed the signs to these, or stapled them to the poles. Remember, this may not be legal in your area, so be sure to abide by the laws in your jurisdiction. Using this method can sometimes anger utility and city workers, so be sure to watch what sort of results you get from these signs. Keep your eye on them and watch how long they stay up. If they are taken down by utility or city workers as quickly as you put them up (which is a possibility) then it is obviously not the best place to put your sign.
- Utility poles, metal & cement– When you cannot attach your sign to a metal or cement pole with nails, or staples, we have used a plastic “Zip tie”, which can be purchased at most hardware stores. We would just poke 4 holes in the center of the sign, thread the zip tie thru the holes, and close this around the pole. This is a good way to make them stay longer, and yes, it does sometimes anger city code enforcement since they are difficult to remove from the poles. So be careful if you decide to use this method as well.
Sign placement is important. You want to make sure as many people see your sign as possible, but you also do not want to put them in harm’s way either. We like to place them at intersections where cars often stop for a period of time, like traffic lights on main thoroughfares. Near entrances and exits to subdivisions, convenience stores, shopping areas, commonly used businesses, such as dry cleaners, banks, and LARGE department discount stores are among the best places to place your signs.
It is also important to remember that where you place your signs should factor into where you want to invest. You can use the placement of your signs to “target” the areas that are most desirable for you to invest in. Obviously, if you are looking for mid to upper range houses, you would not place your signs around a “war zone” with run down houses and gang activity! Look for the mid to upper range neighborhoods in your area and place your signs at major intersections and entrances and exits to and from subdivisions or neighborhoods in that area.
When should I place my signs out?
This is really up to you and your schedule. We like to keep signs in all of our vehicles at all times, so if we see a good spot, we can place one up while out. We also go out a couple of times per week and place more out each time. They do have a tendency to get taken down or destroyed by weather, so you will need to replace them.
We try to make sure the signs are out by the time rush hour traffic begins, either at night or in the morning. That way, more people will see the signs. We also like to place more out on weekends, since most of the city, county and state employees who take them down are off work then. This gives the signs a few more days’ exposure. In some areas, sign laws are SO strict that many people just place their signs out on weekends only, and pull them down Sunday night. We have also done this in certain areas.
Please remember, posting of these signs may very well be against local laws or ordinances, and in no way are we advocating that you violate these laws or community rules. What you do with these signs is totally up to you. We are merely sharing with you what we have done before.
It is also possible to hire someone to put up and take down your signs for you. This is especially handy if you are only able to put them up on the weekends without having them removed by local authorities. You can hire a student at a local university for a few dollars to run around on Friday evening to put the signs up, then again on Sunday evening to take them down. This can save you time, as well as the aggravation of having to worry about remembering to run out and take your signs down in time to avoid being cited on Monday morning.