Learn How To Start Investing In Real Estate
Learn How To Start Investing In Real Estate

How To Run A Successful Marketing Campaign With Bandit Signs

Written by Than Merrill

Key Takeaways:

With any successful marketing campaign, a point of contact must be established to initiate a transaction. Bandit signs are, therefore, considered by many to be a necessary component of every real estate marketing system. While relatively primitive compared to alternative methods, they have the potential to generate unparalleled exposure for investors of all levels.

“Bandit signs,” as they have been so aptly named, establish multiple points of contact with prospective customers and facilitate a relatively cost-effective method for creating brand awareness. Even the most successful real estate investors continue to use their own variations of the bandit sign campaign, as they have been both tested and proven.

The complexity of a bandit sign campaign is disguised by its relatively simple nature. However, there is much to be learned by those who want to take advantage of this system and create leads regularly. It does not take a lot of effort to place bandit signs, but those who truly understand their relevance will likely be rewarded with long-term success in their real estate endeavors. Ultimately, a bandit sign campaign may be responsible for determining the level of profitability a business can achieve.

Bandit signs, in conjunction with a little bit of ingenuity, can go a long way in finding a real estate investment property. Sometimes, they are all that is required to lock up a deal. However, you must familiarize yourself with the appropriate steps that need to be taken in such a campaign. Doing so will not only reduce your chances of committing a costly mistake but also maximize any returns on your investment.

[ Thinking about investing in real estate? Register to attend a FREE online real estate class and learn how to get started investing in real estate. ]

real estate bandit sign

What Is A Bandit Sign?

A bandit sign is a poster-sized printed sign that real estate investors often use as a marketing tool, and can often be seen on street corners with verbiage such as “we buy houses cash.” Bandit signs are essentially small variations of the common billboard. Their usefulness is directly correlated to the strategic placement of each sign, as they are intended to act as the initial point of contact for real estate investors and potential sellers. Staked into the ground or placed on walls, these displays are meant to catch the attention of motorists as they drive by. Still, since most cities have ordinances governing the installation of signs on public property, industry jargon has coined the term “bandit sign.” Though their names do not do them justice, this medium is essential to creating highly targeted leads.

The composition of a typical bandit sign consists of a 12×18 or 18×24 inch corrugated plastic board. Corrugated plastic is the preferred material, as it is cost-effective, lightweight, weatherproof, and durable. Basic marketing messages are displayed on the face of each board, suggesting their intentions and revealing a means of contact. Simplicity is the key here. Motorists only have a brief moment to take in the information. It is common to see nothing more than a phone number and a variation of the phrase “we buy houses.”

Widely considered to be the first campaign all novice investors should start with, bandit signs have the potential to establish a presence in the community without invading the privacy of a prospective seller.

Real Estate Bandit Sign Ideas

Designing bandit signs can be your chance to get creative. When driving around your local neighborhood, most likely, you will see a standard set of yellow bandit signs or black and white signs with the same messages over and over. Test out using creative design schemes, such as unique fonts, colors, or even including a colorful border around the text. Whatever you decide, make sure your messaging remains concise and legible, with an emphasis on your contact information. (Read: blank bandit signs definitely won’t work.) Also, experiment with bandit signs that might not look like bandit signs at all. Some investors will employ flyers or business cards that can be tacked onto poles or windshields, while others might invest in creating a large banner that can be hung from a balcony.

bandit sign rules

Are Bandit Signs Illegal: Bandit Sign Rules & Regulations

The initiation of a bandit sign campaign is highly advised by real estate investors of all levels. Of particular concern, however, is the legality of their use. Many municipalities do not permit the use of bandit signs, as they are often in violation of city codes. You must always remember to check with local town officials regarding the regulations of sign placement.

On a national level, regulations can vary significantly. Each city is responsible for establishing its own preventative measures, if at all. Real estate investors found in violation of local codes will be fined accordingly. In most cities, punishment for violating a city’s sign ordinance can include fines ranging from $200, $500, or more per violation. Subsequently, citizens of each neighborhood may not appreciate the added presence of unsightly signs. Therefore, anticipate a myriad of mixed emotions regarding their placement.

While the placement of a bandit sign is associated with an assumed degree of risk, it is not enough to mitigate its use. In fact, bandit sign campaigns have proven to be so effective that their reward greatly outweighs any potential fine. These signs have the ability to bring in a significant amount of leads and deals that trump any penalties enforced by local governments. Ultimately, the choice to use a bandit sign campaign is up to you. The final decision will always be placed on your shoulders.

On a more positive note, many cities have found it easier to enforce responsible bandit sign practices than strict, No-Sign policies. As a result, many local governments have adjusted their practices to accommodate investors. Some allow this method of advertising on specific days of the week, contingent on the sign owner registering with the city first and agreeing to be responsible for picking up the signs on designated days of removal.

bandit sign marketing

Bandit Sign Marketing: Determining Your Budget

Assuming you have decided to pursue the use of bandit signs and are comfortable assuming responsibility, the next phase is to establish the parameters of a plan. This includes the budget and the method in which the campaign will be carried out. Anyone can conceivably place a few bandit signs, but those who take the time to develop a sound marketing system will most likely have long-term success.

Ask yourself: What is a realistic budget that you can consistently utilize weekly? Those unfamiliar with the process may want to take into consideration the potential return on investment. More specifically, evaluate the projected response rates and budget accordingly. Doing so will justify the amount you can spend on the campaign. Remember, you are implementing a system that can replicate itself exponentially, and it only takes one deal to justify the money spent on marketing.

Tips For Creating Cheap Bandit Signs

Bandit signs are an inexpensive investment for your marketing strategy, as they can cost just a few dollars apiece. The cost can vary depending on the size of the signage and the quality of the stakes. However, this variance in cost is minimal, even more so when signs are ordered in bulk. Instead, the best way to measure the cost-effectiveness of your bandit sign production is the return on your investment. Here are some tips for creating effective bandit signs:

  • Larger signs are easier to see: Although a slightly larger sign may cost a few cents more, keep in mind that many people who are going to see your sign will be driving by in your vehicle. Larger signs allow for larger font, making them more eye-catching and easier to read for passers-by.

  • Placement and visibility are key: Again, keep in mind that your sign should be exposed to as many passers-by as possible. Drivers cannot safely stop and read your sign in most cases, so brainstorm locations where drivers might be able to stop and ready your sign, such as near stop signs, traffic lights, or gas stations.

  • Keep it to the point:Make your message clear and concise so that readers can focus mainly on memorizing your phone number. The biggest mistake you can make is cramming your sign too full of verbiage so that no one ever finishes reading it.

bandit signs

How To Generate Leads With Real Estate Investor Signs

Before placing your bandit signs, establish how you wish to receive the leads they generate. Accordingly, they may come in the form of a call or a variation of web-based media (email). Regardless of which method you choose, you must have a system to receive leads your signs have produced. Known as a lead intake system, this process will enable you to keep track of incoming leads and permit you to respond to them in a timely fashion.

Note that receiving a lead does not prevent you from marketing further. To run a successful business, it is important to simultaneously pursue leads and deals. Do not stop marketing once you have a deal on the table. “This means you’re marketing like crazy when you’ve got no deals, and you’re doing the same amount of marketing when you’re in the middle of closing five deals,” says Jason Hanson on Bigger Pockets. Continuous marketing will prevent leads from drying up and provide you with an opportunity to seal another deal immediately.

We have taken the time to highlight a few of the most common lead intake systems. They are as follows:

  • Google Voice: Google Voice refers to a free virtual phone service that can be redirected to a 3rd party number (typically a cell or office line). Calls received by Google Voice are recorded and transcribed so that you may refer to them at your convenience. Perhaps even more importantly, these numbers are untraceable.

  • Call Center: Investors with the resources may consider hiring a live receptionist to answer incoming calls.

  • Website Squeeze Page: If your bandit signs redirect leads to a website, consider the use of a squeeze page. These sites are specifically designed to capture a prospect’s name, contact info and the subject property they are interested in selling.

How To Make Bandit Signs: 10 Tips To Take To The Bank

  1. Acquire an easy to remember phone number to place on the signs that is not traceable.

  2. Do not put your company’s name on the sign.

  3. Do not put your name on the sign.

  4. When choosing a message, keep it short and to the point (for example: WE BUY HOUSES CASH FAST).

  5. Make sure the font you use is as big and bold as possible.

  6. The context must consist of no more than two lines, not including the phone number.

  7. If possible, choose a color scheme that is bright and consistent with your brand.

  8. If you are a licensed Realtor, make sure to check with your local Board of Realtors to see if you need to represent that you are a licensed realtor on your signage.

Once the lead intake system is put in place, you may begin to draft a design for your bandit signs. This can be done on a variety of websites that specialize in this particular field. When starting out, be sure to order approximately 200 to 500 bandit signs, taking into account that a lot will be torn down and have the potential to go missing. Be sure to shop around to obtain the best deal possible. Buying in bulk will make the cost more bearable.

While not incredibly difficult to create, the above-mentioned tips make up the specific set of guidelines you should adhere to.

What Are Bandit Signs Made Out Of?

Bandit signs are made out of two main components – the stake and the sign itself. The stake is usually made out of metal, with prongs that will hold up the sign’s weight and easily be stuck into soft ground. The sign itself is made out of corrugated plastic. The signs are typically 4 millimeters thick, while dimensions are usually 12 inches by 18 inches or 18 inches by 24 inches.

[ Thinking about investing in real estate? Register to attend a FREE online real estate class and learn how to get started investing in real estate. ]

real estate bandit signs

Real Estate Bandit Signs In 4 Easy Steps

  1. Create a Route Map: Make a map plotting the specific location of each sign you place in your area. This will allow you to track which locations result in the most leads. By collecting this information, you will be able to improve your future bandit sign campaigns and update your sign placement as needed.

  2. Track Incoming Leads: Keep track of each incoming lead you receive from a bandit sign in an organized format, such as a Google or Excel spreadsheet. Always ask where they saw your sign and note what type of lead they are. These notes will help you prepare your real estate business for the type of leads you are receiving. Be sure to track even cold leads, as they could become important contacts in the future.

  3. Build a Buyers List: As you build a successful bandit sign campaign in your area, you will no doubt run into other investors doing the same. Contact other investors whose information you find on competing bandit signs. Doing so will allow you to build relationships with other real estate investors in your area and potentially create a large list of potential buyers. Always gather their name, number, email, and put that information in a database for later. You never know how this practice could help you in the future.

  4. Respect Local Investors: Real estate investors often rely on reputation, making it important to treat other investors in your area with respect. Do not place bandit signs in front of other people’s signs or replace any signs with your own. Not only could you be reported to the local authorities, but doing so could harm your ability to build connections in your area.

The prospect of conducting a bandit sign campaign is typically more engaging than people realize. As previously stated, anyone can blindly and effortlessly place advertisements in areas they suspect will generate leads. However, it is ill-advised to pursue a campaign of this importance without taking the time to conduct market research.


The use of bandit signs can be a controversial subject in the real estate investor community, as their legality is questionable in some locales. However, many investors stand their ground regarding the success and return on investment of this ever-popular marketing tool. If you’d like to incorporate band signs into your marketing strategy, be sure to pay attention and adhere to your local regulations and guidelines. By incorporating some of the ideas and top tips discussed above, you’ll be sure to have your phone ringing in no time.

Are bandit signs strictly outlawed in your area? If so, what are some of your creative marketing tactics that are similar to bandit signs? Conversely, if bandit signs are allowed, what are some design strategies you have used that work best? Share in the comments below.

Ready to start taking advantage of the current opportunities in the real estate market?

Click the banner below to take a 90-minute online training class and get started learning how to invest in today’s real estate market!