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When To Use (And Not Use) Bandit Signs For Real Estate

One of the first styles of marketing many new investors resort to is bandit signs.

They see them scattered across their local area.

On street corners. Next to schools. Hung on telephone poles.

And with so many being littered in heavy traffic areas, they have to work, right?

But are they actually worth using?

In this guide, we’re going to break down everything you need to know about bandit signs for real estate.

From what they are to whether or not they’re legal, how to legally use them, and then 7 of the best bandit sign alternatives that are more ethical (and more effective).

Before we get into the alternatives, though…

What Are Bandit Signs?

Bandit signs are those large signs you see plastered all over the neighborhood.

Investors stake them into the ground in high traffic areas hoping to attract the attention of people who may want to sell their house.

They’ve become popular because they’re a cheap, easy, and typically effective way to get people calling your phone to sell their home.

With just a couple hundred dollars and a local print shop, you can have a few dozen of these signs made.

Then you can plaster them on the intersections in your area that get the most traffic.

Before you get in the car and head to your local printer, though, there’s a couple things you’ll want to take into account.

Like whether or not beginners should be using bandit signs in their business.

To help answer that, take a look at the video below:

Are Bandit Signs Legal?

While they’re incredibly effective, bandit signs come with one major caveat: they’re incredibly illegal in most local jurisdictions.

That’s where they get the name “bandit” from.

If you do a quick search for “are bandit signs legal” in your local area, you’ll figure out pretty quickly that they probably aren’t.

Even with that, though, some investors will start weighing the risk versus reward and still use them.

If that’s you, you’ll want to realize something else: fines range from $100 to $2,000 per instance.

That means you can get fined anywhere from $100 to $2,000 for every bandit sign you place.

And since you’re putting your phone number on the bandit sign, it’s not hard to figure out who put it there.

On top of that, they tend to devalue your brand image.

After all, if your business is so successful, why do you have to resort to breaking the law and plopping cheap bandit signs down all over the place?

It tends to give off the vibe that you’re a shady, fly-by-night operation.

How To Legally Use Bandit Signs

If you’ve weighed the risk versus reward and understand that you can be heavily punished for using them in most jurisdictions, but you still want to use them, there are a few ways to place bandit signs legally.

One of the easiest ways is to put them on your own properties.

If you have rentals in your area and they’re located in high traffic areas, you can place bandit signs advertising your own properties.

You can also ask your friends and family if they would be willing to let you put signs up in their yard.

Another way is to get explicit permission from local business owners — either letting you place them for free or for a small fee.

At the end of the day, though, while bandit signs can be effective, there are more ethical ways to get the word out about your business and increase your lead and deal flow.

7 Best Bandit Sign Alternatives That Are More Ethical

Since bandit signs tend to be a cheap way to generate leads, it’s only natural that most new scrappy investors start flocking to them.

But if your goal is to build wealth for you and your family, taking a risk of getting fined or potentially damaging your brand’s image is a bad way to achieve that goal.

Instead of taking that risk, you can adopt the same scrappy approach with other more time-tested, proven marketing strategies that are far more ethical than plopping down bandit signs everywhere.

Each of the strategies below are more scalable and won’t eat into your profit margins with fines, fees, and penalties for getting caught placing bandit signs.

#1 – Direct Mail Marketing

Direct mail marketing is THE tried-and-true best alternative to bandit signs.

With this strategy, you’ll find a list of targeted properties and then reach out to them using a direct mail postcard or letter.

For instance, you can use the AI Postcards to grab attention in crowded mailboxes, let people know exactly how you can help them, and show them how to contact you if they want help.

When you’re mailing these to targeted properties, like preforeclosures or absentee owners with equity, you can customize your message based on their specific situation to increase your conversion rates.

In our experience, we generally see between 15 to 20 leads for every 1,000 mailers that we send.

When you break it down on a cost-per-lead basis, that works out to around $50-$75 per lead. All without risking getting in trouble with local law enforcement.

Then, as your business grows, you can scale up your direct mail efforts to generate even more leads while actively monitoring your KPIs.

Direct mail has been one of the most consistent producers in our business and is still one of the strategies that we recommend for both brand new and highly-seasoned investors.

#2 – List Pulling

To make your direct mail campaigns as effective as possible (as well as other strategies we’ll talk about in a minute), you’ll want to make sure you’re pulling your own lists.

Many investors make the mistake of buying lists from major brokers.

What they don’t realize, though, is that these same lists are resold over and over again to other investors.

That means you’ll be marketing to the exact same people as other investors, typically with much larger budgets than you’ll be able to muster.

To avoid making this costly mistake in your own business, pulling your own targeted lists is key.

You can use a tool like Propstream to start finding properties that haven’t been added to the major lists yet and then target them with your own campaigns — like direct mail or cold calling.

To see how you can start using Propstream to generate lists of highly-targeted leads and then capitalize on those leads with direct mail marketing, check out this case study.

In it, Scot Poore uses a combination of Propstream and lien lists along with our Greeting Card letter to generate a massive return on his initial investment.

#3 – Cold Calling

Investors tend to have a love/hate relationship with cold calling.

They hate to do it but, once they start, they love the results it generates.

If you’ve been one of the investors who dismisses it or even looks down on it, we’ve got news for you: the investors who pick up the phone, smile, and dial make more money.

And if you haven’t done it already, or realized just how powerful it can be, chances are you just don’t know how to do it properly.

The first step revolves around making sure you’re calling the right people.

Using targeted lists that you built in Propstream makes your cold calling efforts a lot more effective. The last thing you want to do is randomly dial people without realizing the situation they’re in.

When you’re dialing targeted lists, though, you can make your message incredibly effective.

We’ve put together a guide that breaks down exactly how to start cold calling — and getting results while you do it. You can check out our cold calling guide by clicking here.

You can also take a look at the video below to see how simple it really should be.

#4 – Driving For Dollars

Another strategy that’s even more effective than plastering bandit signs all over your community is driving for dollars.

If you’re not familiar with the strategy, driving for dollars involves you literally driving around communities you want to work in and looking for potential off-market deals.

Similar to pulling a list from Propstream, when you’re driving for dollars, you’ll be looking to generate your own list that other investors haven’t hammered already.

As you’re driving, there’s certain signs you can look for, like failing roofing systems, old paint, unkempt lawns, etc, that would signify there’s potential in the property.

Then, you can write down the address and do a reverse lookup to get contact information for the owner.

Once you have that information, you can either add them to a direct mail campaign or give them a cold call.

For new investors, this strategy is a great way to generate leads on a budget and learn the ropes, making other strategies on this list even more effective.

If you’re interested in learning more about it, you can check out our driving for dollars guide.

#5 – Social Media Marketing

Social media is a powerhouse when it comes to generating leads for your investing business.

There’s two options you have available, too: free or paid.

For free marketing, you can join local community groups and showcase your properties, fix-and-flips, advertise your rentals, or simply ask if anyone is interested in selling their property.

For paid marketing, you can run ads on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram to draw attention to your properties or let people know you can help them if they want to sell.

#6 – SEO & Content Marketing

To make social media marketing work, though, you’ll likely want to have a professional website.

One BIG benefit of having your own website, though, is that you can also start tapping into search engine optimization and driving new leads from people who search for businesses like yours.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money having a website developed, either.

With a service like Carrot, you can build a professional website in a couple hours and have it already optimized for search engine traffic out of the box.

Keep in mind, though, that optimizing your website for search engine traffic is a long-term approach.

Having a website up and running will have a massive impact on your current short-term lead generation efforts — so it’s worth putting in the time now and giving SEO time to kick in.

#7 – Building Your Local Network

Now, savvy investors know that the long game is where real success happens.

They also know that growing their network and building referral partnerships isn’t something that happens over night.

Because of this, we recommend putting effort into growing your network every chance you get.

You never know when someone you know may send someone they know to you — or when a referral partnership could open up that’s beneficial to both you and your partner.

And leads that come from your local network or a referral partner are a LOT easier to work with than leads coming in from bandit signs.

Should You Use Bandit Signs For Real Estate?

This is the million dollar question.

In our experience, bandit signs just aren’t worth it.

From the costs involved with getting them printed to the costs involved with fines, fees, and penalties for plastering them all over your local community, there are far better ways to generate leads.

By putting the same amount of time, money, and energy into some of the other alternatives we’ve given you, you can generate the same (or more) leads for your business without having to always look over your shoulder in the middle of the night or wait for the local sheriff to call you letting you know you’re in trouble.

So to answer that question: no, you should not use bandit signs for real estate.