Commercial Loans and Fun Blog

Ten Ways To Market For Commercial Loans (or Tenants) On the Cheap

Posted by George Blackburne on Sun, May 8, 2016

Poor_Man-1.jpgYou don't have to be a commercial loan broker to benefit from today's lesson.  You could be a commercial broker (commercial real estate salesman) or even a property owner looking for tenants.  This is the marketing program that I would adopt if a giant earthquake wiped out my entire business, and I was starting over from scratch, as poor as a churchmouse.


  1. We are going to use newsletters because (a) newsletters put your name and contact information right into the "hands" of the recipient; and (b) if you send out a newsletter every 10 to 21 days, and you never miss a newsletter, by the sixth to eighth newsletter, your recipients will have bonded with you - especially if you share a little bit of your life each time.  I call this tendency to bond with a pen pal, "The Newsletter Effect."  Those of you who have received newsletters from Blackburne & Sons, my hard money commercial mortgage company, may remember the section in each newsletter called, "On a Personal Note ..."

  2. We are actually going to use a snail mail campaign, rather than email, for this poor man's marketing program.  Why?  I want you to enclose two business cards in each envelope.  "But George, snail mail costs soooo much more than email!"  True, but we are only going to send out a small handful of letters.  This is not mass mailing.  This is very targeted marketing.

  3. What do you send them?  Answer:  Something fun or fascinating, along with a brief pitch for your services. For example, if you are a landlord trying to find a tenant, your pitch might just say something as simple as, "Please don't forget that our popular strip center at the corner of Main and 4th Street has a 1,600 sf retail space available for lease for only $30 per square foot."  Keep it short and sweet.  Training note:  The rent for commercial or industrial space is traditionally expressed by professionals as so many dollars per square foot per year.

  4. By something fun I usually mean a joke or two, a funny cartoon, a fascinating story, or a juicy bit of gossip.  An example of juicy gossip might be something like, "Donald Trump appears to be flip-flopping on a number of issues since he became the presumptive nominee.  The move may be a conscious part of a brilliant political manuever that was once used in ancient Rome 123 years BCE.  Here is how the technique might work.  Mr. Trump now says that he would have to consider raising the minimum wage.  Such an increase is hardly a pro-business, conservative position.  Nevertheless, if Hillary Clinton proposes a $15 minimum wage, the suggested move for Mr. Trump would be to propose a $16 per hour minimum wage.  If Hillary proposes two months paid maternity leave, Mr. Trump would propose two-and-a-half months of paid maternity leave.  In other words, Donald Trump would pivot even further to the left than Hillary Clinton, thereby stealing her thunder and her votes.  True story:  For centuries the Roman Senate stacked the deck in favor of the rich and powerful, making it virtually impossible for the plebes to improve their lot financially.  Most of the farmland was held by a small handful of super-rich patricians, and it was farmed by slaves.  Family farmers could not compete.  Then a reformer named Gaius Gracchus was up for re-election to the position Tribune of the Plebes, and he was promising agrarian reform (limiting the number of acres that one man could own).  The Senate therefore nominated their own candidate for Tribune of the Plebes, and the Senate's paid candidate promised even more than than Gracchus!  Gracchus was defeated, and he was soon murdered (beaten to death with legs torn off a wooden table) by a crowd hired by the Senate, just like his older reformer brother had been murdered by the Senate ten years earlier.  Of course, once the Senate's candidate was elected Tribune, he immediately recanted on all of his promises; but the point is that Donald Trump's recent policy reversals sound oddly familiar to students of history."  See, you don't have to use jokes or funny pictures.  Juicy gossip can be fun too.  (Guys, let's not trade angry emails about politics, okay?  Just because I recognize this diabolical but effective political technique does not necessarily mean that I approve or that I am a Trump supporter.) 

  5. So what should your newsletter look like?  Keep it simple!  Take a piece of copy machine paper and type your company name, address, phone number, and your cell phone number across the top.  Then, in large bold print, type:  Today's Joke.  The insert a joke or a cool story, a story that you might tell one of your buddies in a bar over a beer.  I want you to use improper English - that means contractions, sentences that end in prepositions, and sentences that start with "And" or "But".  Do not be professional.  Be fun!  Be sure to include at least two of your business cards in every newsletter.

  6. Okay, to whom should you send these newsletters?  Your snail mail list must be tiny.  To start, you might only have 50 to 70 names on your snail mail list.  If you are a commercial mortgage broker, most of these 60 contacts should be bank loan officers.  After all, the first place a potential commercial mortgage borrower calls is his banker.  If you are a leasing broker or a property owner, your list should primarily contain the owners of nearby companies who have nibbled on your space and local leasing brokers who are active in your area.  Ideally you have met each one of these contacts!  Snail mail is much too expensive to cold call new contacts.

  7. Now let's talk frequency.  The Newsletter Effect does not start to produce until the sixth to eighth mailing.  Please read that sentence again.  Sorry.  I wish I had a miracle wand that I could wave for you, but there is none.  Mass mailings, newspaper ads, and magazine ads do not work at all.  Google ads, while effective, are pretty expensive (several dollars per click).  But after the 6th to 8th mailing, a newsletter campaign works as effectively as turning on a faucet.  Therefore we want to get the first eight newsletters out of the way as soon as possible.  I recommend mailing every ten days for the first eight times.  After that you can dial back to your Jenny Craig maintence program of once every 21 days.  Now you can see why we have to keep your snail mail list very small; otherwise a poor church mouse could not afford to send out his eighth newsletter.  Even though you may only be mailing to 60 guys, you will still have to send out six to eight newsletters to each one before you start to get a return.  Verbal proof story:  At Blackburne &  Sons I required each of my loan officers to build an email list of commercial brokers (commercial realtors).  My loan officers grumbled bitterly at first.  "This isn't working."  Then the seventh or eighth newsletter hit, a wonderful flow of deals started to come in, and my loan officers stopped grumbling.

  8. Where do you get fun material for your newsletter?  Go onto Google and type in, "Jokes."  You will see a dozen free joke newsletters to which you can subscribe.  Or you can just go onto and find my past newsletters.  Feel free to steal them.  You'll find over 600 cute, clean jokes from which to choose.  Also be on the lookout for interesting stories.  The most successful newsletter that I ever wrote was 20 years ago, and it was entitled, "Ebola is Going To Kill Us All!"  It was based on the wonderful book, The Hot Zone.

  9. Now let's talk about great additions to your mailing list.  Let's suppose you're a leasing agent, and you meet the owner of a local tool and die company who mentioned that he may want to someday expand into a larger space.  Make sure that you save an extra supply (30 to 40 copies) of every newsletter that you send out.  Now print out ten envelopes to this new contact.  Stuff each one with an old newsletter and two business cards.  Now, using a pencil, write in the upper-right-hand corner a date, ten days apart.  For example, today is May 10th.  The first newsletter would go out today, and then another on May 20th, May 30th, June 10th, June 20th, etc.  Keep these  pre-addressed, pre-stuffed, and pre-sealed envelopes in an old envelope box in chronological order.  Then when you come in the office in the morning, you pull today's envelopes and place a stamp over the small date written in the upper-right-hand corner.

  10. Folks, I have been in marketing for almost 40 years.  It is much better to have a tiny list of hot prospects (50 to 70) and to hit them with a newsletter every ten to twenty-one days than it is to send bulk mail to a list of 10,000 strangers.  I have wasted $4,000 doing mass mailings at least a dozen times during my career, and I never closed a single deal from such a mailing.  "You peed away $4,000 a dozen times?  Geez, George, are you mentally challenged?  When are you finally going to learn?"  Like my beautiful but long-suffering wife often tells our daughter, "Boys are stupid."  Ha-ha!  :-)




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The Church Lady on Saturday Night Live described the general election.  "It's a choice between a godless liberal democrat and Hillary Clinton."

Is one of Trump's political advisors a student of history?  I wonder... And Gaius Gracchus, didn't you learn from what happened to your older brother?  Geesch.  Maybe my wife is right.  "Boys are stupid."  :-)


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