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Episode 138: Ballpoint Marketing - Ryan Dossey

brrrr method david dodge discount property investor michael slane podcast real estate 101 real estate coaching real estate investing real estate investor real estate tips wholesaling wholesaling real estate Sep 22, 2022

Show Notes

Another episode with David Dodge together with Ryan Dossey (founder of Call Porter). Now, Ryan share how his company starts and share how Ballpoint Marketing works. You can learn a lot with this episode. Check this out!

Things you will learn in this episode:

You can connect Ryan Dossey:

Book Mentioned in this Show:

Episode Transcripts

David: Alright guys, we are back! This is the Discount Property Investor podcast. I am your host David Dodge. You make your money when you buy, you get paid when you sell. Do not forget that! Period! You make your money when you buy, you get paid when you sell. That is so incredibly important. I have my good buddy Ryan Dossey back, we just did an episode on Call Porter, and I wanted to break these up into two episodes because I don't want to co-mingle, especially my funds. I don't do it with my funds, I'm not going to do that with my podcast either. If you listened to the last episode with Ryan, you will know a little bit about him. I would encourage you to check that out if you haven't already and you just stumbled across this one because I don't want to bore you guys with those details a second time. That was a shorter episode too, so you can get through it in 20-25 minutes. But the last episode we talked about one of Ryan's businesses, he is a serial entrepreneur, and just an awesome human, I love this guy, I truly do. He is an amazing friend of mine at this point, and I have only known him for--.

Ryan: We fall in love quick.

David: Yeah but he's a really good guy and I am not going to mention some of the reasons why, but yeah, just an awesome individual here. Last episode we talked about Call Porter, very cool, check that episode out. Today-- and by the way, welcome back, Ryan.

Ryan: Thank you.

David: This book keeps falling, I'm going to leave it down. Doesn't matter.

Ryan: Make sure you get your copy of 'The ultimate guide to wholesaling real estate' free course included.

David: That's right. Best book on the market on wholesaling, and there is a free course included. Thanks for the plug, I appreciate you, man. Absolutely. So today we are going to talk about Ballpoint Marketing. This is great, because I knew a little bit about Call Porter coming in. I know Zero about this business. So I want you to fill us in, tell us the when, there where, the why, the who, the how. Hook me up. Why did you start it? I am going to kind of open up the floor to you and let you tell us a little bit about it. Yeah I'm ready, I think this is going to be-- I'm going to learn some stuff--.

Ryan: -- when we're done.

David: That's right.

Ryan: Alright so this was kind of like my secret. I didn't want anybody to know I was doing this because it was so effective. A buddy of mine called me out on it, and was like-- you don't think this needs to be shared? I was like, man, I know you're right. So I had a couple of friends that owned mail houses that I didn't want to step on toes, I just stomp on feet now.

David: There ya go.

Ryan: We have arrived. So my number one source of deals, I don't know yours, mine is direct mail, always has been. It's our most consistent, our most repeatable. I have literally got it to a point where if I spent 2000, it spits out a deal.

David: Is that light on? Just want to make sure, right in front.

Ryan: Yeah. I think so.

David: We're good.

Ryan: We spent 2000, we get a deal. Either something we ar keeping for our portfolio, our average fee wholesaling is right at 17 grand. So I don't know about you.

David: That's high!

Ryan: We do alright.

David: That's great! Here in-- that's in Indi, right?

Ryan: Correct.

David: Okay, so-- and you live in San Diego?

Ryan: Correct.

David: Very cool, impressive to say the least. Here in St Louis our average deal spread is probably closer to seven to eight grand.

Ryan: You can get that up.

David: On average though.

Ryan: Indi is like the same market price point, geographically. I would actually say St Louis is a little bit easier. You can get that up.

David: Very interesting.

Ryan: I will give you the swear filled pep talk I got on that off camera.

David: Alright cool, perfect.

Ryan: Kind of I would say-- cracked the code a little bit on how to make direct mail work. We have had it working from 2016 through 2020. Similar to Call Porter, it became a business because I started running my mouth. People were like, can you do mine? So what we do that's different, I don't believe in dishonest marketing.

David: Me either.

Ryan: I don't do bandit signs, I'm not doing RVM's. We are not sending liek the third notice expired offer postcard.

David: Those drive me nuts. I saw an ad this morning on my way in, about somebody posting signs on people's doors saying-- pre foreclosure secure thing. You seen that?

Ryan: Yeah.

David: Man, I almost commented like-- that is just evil. You are going to get some old lady that sees that and she's going to have a stroke.

Ryan: It was a sticker on vacant properties, that say the property had been secured by like -- I think they were changing locks too, by a certain-- the investor's company for protection of the property, the community and the home owner, and if you are the home owner to call them. They are locking people out of their own houses. Literally one of the dumbest things--.

David: It's just cruel.

Ryan: Good way to get shot.

David: Unethical. I like to choose ethical routes.

Ryan: I want a business where I can sleep at night, right? So what we do that's different-- we do custom designs for the market. So the envelope is full of color as the note pad piece. So there is no-- it's very obvious that you're local. Mine for instant is 13 or 14 different well known streets, monuments, Hodge Podge together in an envelope that is purple and hot pink. The inside piece is--.

David: What are we talking about?

Ryan: Direct mail.

David: What's the company?

Ryan: Ballpoint Marketing.

David: Boom! Guys, check it out.

Ryan: Sorry we are just running ads in the middle of the podcast. So custom design for the market. The inside piece is full color as well, and it's a water mark of the outside of the envelope so it is very cohesive.

David: You've got to back up, I am not that bright.

Ryan: Alright--.

David: Say that again.                                                                                             

Ryan: Let's say you're in a market in Florida, right? So a sunset is the outside of your envelope. Your inside piece is the same image, it is just watermarked so it's not as dark. You can see the writing on top of it.

David: Very dull background, color or no color?

Ryan: Full color.

David: Full color. Cool love that.

Ryan: So the results of that when they open it, it's a very cohesive piece, a 5x7 style size, then when it gets pretty ninja is our letters are not printed, they are written by robots that hold pens and write in--.

David: Wait, say that again!

Ryan: This isn't doing on a HP. It goes into a machine that holds a Bic pen, and hand writes cursive, the pen runs out of ink we have to swap them out. The results of that, it smears, it smudges, it digs into the paper.

David: But you want that.

Ryan: Absolutely.

David: You want all those things.

Ryan: It's beautiful.

David: Say that again. It smears, it smudges--.

Ryan: It dents into the paper.

David: And that's what you want, guys. That's what you want.

Ryan: Absolutely.

David: This is cool, this is gold!

Ryan: It's huge for us. We are averaging a 1 to 1.5% response rates in some of the hottest markets in the country.

David: Which is unheard of.

Ryan: -- San Diego, Long Island, New York, Nashville, Denver. This isn't your .0-1% sent 40'000 of them and pray. This has been very repeatable for us.

David: Very cool. So how long have you guys been doing it?

Ryan: So my wife actually just showed me pictures of when all this industrial equipment was in our house.

David: Oh wow. You don't F around, I love it though.

Ryan: Very patient woman. It was 2016, we started small, then ramped up in equipment and stuff like that.

David: So you've been around for a couple of years. This isn't something that hasn't been around for a few months to a year, it's been multiple years.

Ryan: We started and launched it in 2019. But it's something-- my dirty secret from my friends, like we have been doing mail for people since 2016.

David: Got it. Very cool. You did-- and we talked about this in the last episode. You did it because you wanted to do it for your own business. You started this because you saw a need for it to be done. You figured out a way to do it better.

Ryan: But I don't start businesses, I just run my mouth and people ask me to do it for them.

David: That's how most businesses start though. I think it's great. So you found a need in your own business. You filled the need. Then like you said, you built it into a business. You look it a little differently than me, but it's the same road map, right? So you're like, hey this is great, you started running your mouth, which is not different thank marketing, you are just doing it via mouth versus the internet or whatever. People said, hey I think this is great, then you built it into a business. Props on that. Very cool. So we talked about the why and the when. Let's talk a little bit more about the how. I don't want you to give away trade secrets of course, that is your business. But let's explain what is exactly happening. You said a robot. Is this an iRobot looking dude?

Ryan: No it's like--.

David: Is it like a scanner? Explain what we're working with here.

Ryan: It's like-- probably the size of this table. Just an industrial machine.

David: And you load a pen into it, and it has a little arm on it or whatever?

Ryan: It's really neat, they write forwards and backwards. It's kind of fun to wath.

David: That's cool.

Ryan: But so-- the first step is getting the materials designed. We have an in house graphic designed who-- you will send info over about the market.

David: I assume you guys have some templates to simplify this for people?

Ryan: Absolutely.

David: Okay cool. I'm a template guy.

Ryan: Correct. So we have the easy button, pre printed stuff, you can go place an order right now.

David: Love it. I am lazy and that's why I'm a template guy.

Ryan: If you're an investor doing volume, it is more effective to custom design something for your market.

David: Put you're own watermark-- or whatever.

Ryan: It's going to take you a few e-mails of answering the designer, then-- you're done.

David: Right.

Ryan: So materials are done, they are branded for you, they get loaded into the equipment. That is then-- mail merging in and personalizing the info. So this isn't, hey neighbor I want to buy your house. It's, dear David I wan to buy 123 main street, prepared a cash offer for you, give me a call at blank, thanks in advance.

David: Perfect. So the mail merge, I'm going to interrupt for a second. The mail merge is--.

Ryan: Is variable data.

David: The mail merge is very important, because whenever somebody gets an envolope that is addressed to them. For instance it's coming to David Dodge. I open it up--.

Ryan: Not property owner.

David: Not property owner, right?

Ryan: David Dodge, or current resident.

David: Right, immediately-- I don't even open those, or I do and I give them about three seconds of my time before they go right into the trash. But when you customize these and you put their name. When they open it up and it says, hey I see you own this house at 701 Meltcher, over in Ferguson. I may own a couple in the area already and I am looking to buy it. Contact me. It makes me think that it's somebody that is probably not sending out a ton of mail even though I know they are--.

Ryan: People just sat there and writing them a letter.

David: That's the point.

Ryan: Yep.

David: I think that is so huge. When I first started, and I am sure you were similar, Ryan, maybe not, you're smarter than me. But when I first started, I started out with a yellow pad of paper. I was hand writing with a sharpie, less is more in my opinion. I am always about less is more as you can so. I started out writing it in, then I'm like hold on, maybe I can just leave some gaps for their name and their address, then print out like 2000 of those, then all I have to go back and write they name in. That worked for a little while. Then I progressed into hiring a mail house, and doing it--.

Ryan: That's funny; we all start out-- well if I do this myself I can save 4 cents. Bro, what is your time worth?

David: But how many can you do in a day or a night?

Ryan: Not very many.

David: Not very many, right. So alright cool, I didn't mean to interrupt.

Ryan: No, you're good.

David: Just a little nugget there, you know? But really at the end of the day, if you go with a company like Ryan's, that spends a little bit more time and they are obviously more creative, you are goin to get a better response rate. But I don't want to deter-- because we have a lot of new people that listen to the show.

Ryan: Sure.

David: Right, and I also don't want to deter people from doing something.

Ryan: Something is better than nothing.

David: If you can't afford it, and you want to hand write, then hand write.

Ryan: Absolutely. I would respect you way more.

David: Way more than doing nothing. Just because I have Ryan on the show today, and I am grateful for Ryan's time, doesn't mean that if you can't afford to use his service or even another service, I am not here to bash, you know that. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't start somewhere. If that means hand writing is for you to get started, then do that. Once you have done some deals, and I am a big-- believing funding your marketing from your deals.

Ryan: Absolutely. It's going to pay for itself.

David: So yes you need to-- yes your marketing is an expense for the first month or two three, or could be four or five, whatever. But after you are doing deals--.

Ryan: I'm not patient, I give it like 30 days.

David: Even better. But what I'm getting at is, after you do a couple of deals, check this out, your marketing is no longer an expense, it is an investment. One could argue that it is an investment in the beginning, I am not saying otherwise. But it is an expense, because nothing is coming back right away or immediately. But once you start doing deals, it comes-- it goes from being an expense, meaning you have to go find money to put into it, from just pulling money from those deals, then you are making investments.

Ryan: You have got to give a little nugget drop to anyone who is balling on a budget here, you have a Prop Stream code, right?

David: Yeah.

Ryan: What is it? If you go to and fill out, just tell them David Dodge sent out.

David: The best way to find it is I don't know the exact code, but just use that URL.

Ryan: Perfect. So get set up a Prop Stream account if you don't already have one. Taking action is really what matters.

David: That's it.

Ryan: I was on a call with somebody who was interested in my coaching stuff. He-- I gave him a tid bit, hey go do this. Calls me yesterday, hey I'm ready to go, I did what you said and got two deals. On Prop Stream you can run a search for expired listings. On top of that, you can add in a keyword for things like 'investor', 'as is', 'tlc', 'handy man'. These are just distressed properties that they tried listing and couldn't sell.

David: Love that idea.

Ryan: Willing to take a lot more-- but the sample size on this, you may have 80-200 people.

David: So what?

Ryan: If you're broke and want to figure it out, export that list, go through and hand write those pieces, lick the envelopes like I used to do back in the day, flick them out and see what you get. But that is a really good way to make a really targeted logical intelligent leap into direct to seller marketing. Your first campaign if you are new investor, you have no business mailing absentee owners with equity-- sending them some post cards or something. You have to be more creative and targeted, because you don't have as many dollars, right?

David: You have to make them stretch more.

Ryan: I had all the absentee owner deals all the time.

David: Right.

Ryan: Probably my most consistent source, just because it is most of them.

David: I would say vacants and absentees are my most consistent too.

Ryan: Absolutely. But when you are starting out and you can't mail out 40'000 absentee owners, hey here is 100-200 folks, shoot after them and see what you get. Good little action to take away on this.

David: Love it. Let's get back to the machines. So these machines-- so you have to have a human load it? Or does it have paper?

Ryan: It has a feeder. You have to load it every 25-30 pieces.

David: So it loads it in-- it's not doing these fast because--.

Ryan: A typical piece takes about two and a half minutes.

David: But that's okay, it doesn't matter. Doesn't matter to the customer.

Ryan: Yeah.

David: But the cool thing is-- that's why I'm asking, is because they put care into these, guys. They are not printed on laser printer, they are checked by hand to make sure there are no errors, and they look like somebody wrote them. Here's the thing, somebody did write them, it just wasn't a human.

Ryan: That's right.

David: But the keyword is write, not print, and you are not printing, they are being written, and that's really cool.

Ryan: No girl every wanted a guy to print her a love letter.

David: No, I love that. So we talked a little but about the why in the beginning, the how, let's talk about the where and the when. Let's talk about the when.

Ryan: Let's go where first. The pieces after they are written are inserted, sealed and stamped. We use first class, 55 cent stamps, but they are boxed and shipped to the clients locally, that's going to be your where. So they will have that local post mark, which is important.

David: That's cool. So again, I am not asking you to give away any secret, but how does that work? You mail those to a local post office in their area?

Ryan: No, if you place an order for 2000 pieces, they do it, fulfil, it pack it in boxes, ship it to you.

David: Oh they ship it to me?

Ryan: Correct. You just go to a local post office, one of the blue boxes and just drop it off.

David: Oh that's cool, I did not know that it was even a thing. I'm learning as I go here.

Ryan: -- it's going to be post marked somewhere else. If you are using an out of State mail house, that's a problem.

David: Right.

Ryan: Somebody wonders why you are in Denver mailing them from Texas.

David: DC or anywhere else. So no bar codes on the envelopes?

Ryan: Nope.

David: That's another big give away guys to mass mailings. I get something in the mail from a credit card company everyday. They always have the bar codes on them. One thing I saw people are doing now is using fake stamps, then they are voiding them, then they use the barcode too. It appears like it's a real sticker, but it's fake. Have you seen that?

Ryan: If you spent that much effort doing it honestly--.

David: Then you would just get it. My point is that--.

Ryan: We are not printing anything like coffee stains or--.

David: Not at all. The point is that you don't need all those bells and whistles, just keep it simple. People want to see hand written, they want to see unique, right? And they want to see local. You had named that. They also don't want to see anything that is going to stand out that makes you look like you're spamming, or marketing or advertising.

Ryan: We had a school teacher call us last week who was like, I would never sell this house, I'm going to die here, but you're hand writing is beautiful. Come on, it's passing the school teacher test.

David: That is cool. So we talked about the why, the when, the how, what am I missing? The what? We talked about the what. I think we kind of nailed it, guys.

Ryan: In a nut shell.

David: Anything you want to add? Check it out What's the minimum order size?

Ryan: Typically a thousand pieces. We will work with somebody if they are new.

David: Sure.

Ryan: But I'm not trying to do orders for 43 pieces. It's not worth our time to set up templates.

David: Honestly, if you're doing 43 pieces do it by hand. When the time is right for you to scale, 500-1000, and in your case a thousand-- that makes sense.

Ryan: We would do an order of 500 for somebody that's new.

David: Sure, very cool. I don't want to get too deep on the pricing but I do want to mention it really quickly. Is there pricing discounts for bulk? Or is it a fixed price?

Ryan: We start at $1.45, then it does go down with volume and commitment. If we have someone who is mailing monthly, we will add them to the schedule, it is guaranteed work for us, so we give them a price break.

David: So guys, the pricing though is irrelevant when you are comparing apples to apples. I said that wrong. We are comparing apples to oranges here.

Ryan: You are comparing apples to old bananas.

David: Something different, because if you go in and type 'cheapest mail house', right?

Ryan: Good luck.

David: Yeah you're going to find guys that are doing it for--.

Ryan: 33 cents.

David: But the thing is though, the response rates are them are going to be shit, pardon my language, but they are going to be shit. It is worth it to spend a little bit more--.

Ryan: It's more effective.

David: To have a more effective approach, absolutely.

Ryan: We did a split test with a friend of mine in Florida, who came to me, like I've got quarter of a million dollars, want to spend $125'000 with you, and $125'000 on like postcards book mail. His cost per deal on the post cards was over seven grand, cost per deal with me was under three. His initial thought was he was going to get three times as many deals as he was reaching out to three times as many people. 125'000, 42 deals.

David: Can't beat that.

Ryan: There ya go.

David: That's awesome.

Ryan: He ran the split test, not me. Can't get more unbiased than that. He came to me and was like, man I'm pissed. You won. Can I get a discount? Why would I lower your prices any further? Cost per deal is under three thousand.

David: I love it. Well guys, I want to thank Ryan personally for coming on and doing two episodes. If you missed the last episode, we talked about Call Porter, go back and check that one out. Ryan, like I said earlier, I am just-- I am completely astonished and amazed at how successful this guys is. If you are not following him on social channels. Your Instagram is blowing up I love it. Ryan C Dossey.

Ryan: Well done, you pronounced it right too.

David: I am the worst at spelling, dude. Like the worst! There are probably a thousand spelling errors in my book here, but it is what it is. Check out Ryan on Instagram, all the other socials as well. He is providing so much value in his posts lately and I love seeing them. I think they're great.

Ryan: Thanks, man.

David: If you want to take your mailings to the next level, alright? Check out These guys know their shit!

Ryan: Our staff will do like a free call with ya, consult on what you're mailing, copy proofs and all that stuff. It's not like you just go on-- you can just go on and order, but most people--.

David: You have more of a hands on approach to help people.

Ryan: We want people to know the ins and outs and what to expect.

David: Absolutely. Guys we are going to be signing off, thanks for listening. Again, don't forget, check out I want to say it one more time before we close up shop. Than you for coming on the show today. It has been an absolute pleasure.

Ryan: Thanks for having me, man.

David: We are going to have to have you back on here in a couple of months as well.

Ryan: Absolutely.

David: Do a follow up. I'm interested in both businesses. So maybe I can give you a good testimony on both of those as well.

Ryan: We will work something out.

David: Alright guys, signing off, thanks for listening. We will be back with more episodes very soon.

David: But little to no money is 100% true. So check is out, guys. Thanks for listening. If you want more information contact Mike. He knows how to do this

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