Archive for July, 2015

Too Many Loyalty Cards?

“I always say shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist.” ~Tammy Faye Bakker

The other day I was in the grocery store picking up some milk. In the checkout line, the checker asked the guy ahead of me if he had one of those loyalty cards. Well, this guy took out a shoebox full of those cards – a shoebox! –and started searching through them. It took forever!

Okay, maybe I made that up. Actually, if anyone needs a shoebox for those cards, it’s probably me. And if I were to pull out that shoebox in the checkout line, I’ll bet no jury would convict the checkout lady if she shot me right then and there.

Now, just in case there’s anyone who still doesn’t know about loyalty cards, it’s time you did. They’re promotional wallet cards that big retailers and businesses give out, usually for free. When the checker scans the barcode on the back (or when you give the checker the phone number they have on file for you), you can get all kinds of deals that are only available for people who sign up.  

And it’s not just stores and businesses that use barcodes. These days, libraries, museums, and organizations have them. Barcodes are on the back of gift cards, too. Corporate barcodes can save you time, money, or both.

Well, you know how much I love a bargain! So when stores started giving away these loyalty cards, I got on board fast. Now, I have a whole collection of them. I especially like those little barcode tags you can put on your keychain. But when it takes fifteen minutes to find the card you need, it’s time to do something about it.

That’s where Key Ring comes in. Key Ring is a great little app that’s available for both iPhones and Androids. Essentially, it collects and organizes all those cards so you don’t have to stuff them in your wallet or clutter up your keychain. It’s easy to learn and operate, and it’s free.

Here’s how it works: When you get a new loyalty card, you open the Key Ring app and create a virtual card on your phone. Key Ring has an extensive list of companies that issue these cards. You select the business, and Key Ring has you photograph the barcode, as well as the card itself.

Once that’s done, your life gets a lot simpler. For one thing, you can bring up the barcode on your phone – which you always have with you anyway – and the checker can just scan your phone. I love quick and easy!

Key Ring does something else I love: it’ll show you deals and coupons offered by the retailer, and in a lot of cases these can be geared to your location. And if all that wasn’t enough, you can even create shopping lists with the deals you select.

One of the things I really like about Key Ring is its versatility. For instance, you can enter in gift cards as well as loyalty cards. If you’ve lost the actual card, you can enter your membership ID instead (tip: to find your membership ID, go online, get into your account and go to your profile), and it’ll still bring up all those special deals.

And if the business isn’t on Key Ring’s list of businesses? No problem. You can create a custom entry. It won’t bring up special deals, of course, but it will still save you time and help you stay organized, because all your barcodes and memberships will be in one place. All in all, a really nifty little app that will make your life run more smoothly.

That, of course, leaves one question: What should you do with that shoebox full of cards you’ve been accumulating? Here’s one option: Save them if you’ve got the space. Don’t even take the cards apart when you get them. Keep them in pristine, original condition. Somebody’s already collecting them somewhere, and you never know, one or two of those cards could be worth a little money someday.  

Whatever you do, though, please don’t take your shoebox to the grocery store.

Don DeRosaDon DeRosa is recognized as one of the nation’s top 21 real estate investors in the New York Times bestseller “The Millionaire Real Estate Investor”. Don, who is a full-time investor, trainer, and mentor, is the first to offer his complete investing system on a mobile platform. Don teaches investors how to Make More and Work Less by being more efficient, productive and competitive, leveraging mobile technology and apps on the iPad, iPhone, Android and other mobile devices.

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How To Use Signage to Locate Even More Deals

Signage is an important tool for you to use in your real estate investing business. Using signage is another inexpensive way to draw motivated sellers and deals to you. Many real estate investors find that signage can produce more deals in a year than some of the other methods they use in their businesses. Once again, you need to test and track the results in your own business. There are several different types of signage you can use. Some are permanent, some are temporary. Some are very inexpensive and some will cost more. I will discuss several different types of signage I have used in my own business.

One type of signage you can use is magnetic signs or vinyl lettering that goes on your vehicle. You can also “wrap” a vehicle with signage. Wrapping a vehicle means signage all the way around it. There are sign companies who will design this type of signage for you. This is a little more expensive and a little more permanent; however, it can be easily removed should you decide to sell your vehicle. Magnetic signs work very well, especially if you only own one vehicle. Sometimes you will be working with a seller who doesn’t want their neighbors to know they are selling their house and you will need to remove your signage before going to see that seller. Make sure your message is short and to the point since other drivers have only seconds to see your message unless your vehicle is parked.

Another type of signage I use in my personal business is sun shades which display my message on them. I give these to friends, relatives and vendors such as my pool person, pest control person and lawn man. Our auto shades say “We Buy Houses, Quick Closings, our phone number, and website address. That way, anytime these folks are parked somewhere; their vehicle becomes a billboard for our business when they use their sun shade on their windshield. This is a good way for you get exposure in the marketplace that you wouldn’t get any other way, and they are fairly inexpensive to produce.

Some of the other types of signage you can use are yard signs and street signs. These are the smaller, usually coroplast signs that you can tack to posts or stick in the ground. Every property you own should have one of your signs in the yard letting the world know that you buy houses. If you have rental properties your signs should be in those yards as well. This is a legal way for you to display signage. One way to avoid the “sign police” when placing signs is to keep them off main roads and keep them in subdivisions where you want to buy houses. Or, if you know of homes in pre-foreclosure in a particular subdivision, place one your “avoid foreclosure” signs at the entrance and exit to the subdivision.

If you know of a house that sits at a busy intersection, you can knock on the door and ask the owner if you can place one of your signs in their yard and pay them with a free pizza coupon once a month. This is another inexpensive way to get your message out to the public. If you see lots of other signs out in your area, you can probably use them. If you don’t see other signs, test it once by putting some signs out. Make sure you make a list of where you put them so you can take them back up if you need to. You could also put your signs out on Friday night and pick them back up on Sunday night. You might also want to ask family and friends to put your signage in their yard and then pay them a referral fee if you get a deal from it.

Another way to get your message out onto main roads is through the use of billboards, bus benches, buses and taxicabs. Billboards can get rather expensive and I don’t want to see you putting all of your marketing dollars into just one technique to find motivated sellers.

Bus benches can be much less expensive and get your message out on main roads if you purchase ones that are placed correctly where drivers can actually see them. There are advertising companies who supply the bench and place your message on them. They will charge a monthly fee per bench. They apply your message to the bench and they maintain them for you throughout the year. Check the location of the benches before committing to them! The placement and whether cars can actually see them will make a big difference to your response rate using this technique.

If you are going to put your message on a bus, the best placement is on the rear of the bus. If you can’t get the rear, don’t bother using this technique. Taxicab companies will put your signage on top or on the back of the cab. Both of these types of advertising will be charged to you on a monthly basis and you usually need to commit to a year’s contract. So start out small and add more buses or cabs as you go if you find this technique works for you. You just need to check with both bus companies and cab companies to see what the cost is and whether this technique will fit your budget.

Other types of signage include door hangers, flyers and banners. If you see a vacant house simply place one of your door hangers on the door. Go back a week or so later and recheck the property. If the hanger is gone, replace it with another one. Sometimes a neighbor will pick them up because they may need your services also. If someone is taking care of the property, they will also pick it up. You can also have someone hang these door hangers or place flyers door to door for you. This is a great way to canvas entire neighborhoods where you want to buy houses. I pay someone to provide this service for our real estate investing business and they distribute flyers and door hangers in different neighborhoods once a month.

Banners are another great tool to use to get your message out to the public. I use banners in two ways. One is to put them up in local parks where there are baseball, softball, soccer games, etc. The parks usually sponsor your putting up these banners and it is fairly inexpensive to do so. Another use for banners is to contact store owners who own properties on main roads with fences around them such as car lots. Ask if you can pay them a small amount each month to place a banner on their fence. This is a good way to get signs up on main roads without any hassles, and banners are fairly inexpensive to have made.

Remember that anytime you are using signage the message must be short and to the point. The person walking or driving by has only seconds to see your message. It needs to be something like “We Buy Houses” and your number and web site address, or “Avoid Foreclosure”. Remember to give your potential seller more than one way to contact you. This makes it easier for the seller to choose how they want to contact you. I would use a phone number and a website address. If you have a web site, this gives the seller the opportunity to “check you out” before they actually call you. Don’t use photos or logos on your signage. This is just a waste of money and space. Make the message to the point and benefit driven. All of your signage should be the same color and look alike. As a matter of fact, try to maintain the same theme throughout all of your advertising. This is called “branding” and it is a good way to get people to recognize you and your message. Use a professional sign maker; do not try to make signs yourself. They are very inexpensive to purchase, and you can purchase as few as 100 at a time. You will find that you will go through them quickly and they will bring you deals.

Kathy KennebrookKathy Kennebrook is a speaker, author and has been actively investing in real estate since 1999, Kathy currently resides in Bradenton, FL and is known as the “Marketing Magic Lady” because she is the country’s leading real estate marketing expert on finding motivated sellers using direct mail.

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