It’s the dream of every real estate agent: send out a mass mailer to 2,000 local homes, sit back, and the next thing you know you have so many listing appointments you can’t even keep up. Has this ever happened to you? Probably not.
However, there are agents who do have their phones ringing off the hook, with so much business coming in they have a hard time handling it all. While all the other agents are complaining about the economy, they’re raking in the clients and moving their inventory. They know something the rest of us don’t. They know how to market on purpose.
The Old Way of Marketing
Taking a trip back 10, 15 years ago, marketing used to be about buying a bench ad or having someone drop off flyers in the neighborhood you’re farming. And it worked. Over time, you’d become a recognizable brand to potential home buyers/sellers and when they needed to move, they’d think of you first. Now, however, there’s 35 other agents doing this too and you’re getting lost in the noise. Getting that listing is nothing more than a lottery.
Marketing in 2008
Sending mass mailers, bulk online newsletters, running magazine and television ads are the cheap, easy, lazy and ineffective ways to market. When your potential clients are buried with dozens of agents bombarding them with the same stale approaches, marketing no longer works like it used to. Unfortunately the golden age of “advertising” is over. Today, with 250 agents in your city vying for the same listing: what is a smart, motivated, experienced agent (much like yourself) to do?
Nowadays, marketing must be intentional and it must be individual. It’s a post on a friend’s wall on facebook, it’s a comment on a blog post, it’s a call to a former client to ask how they like their new home. It’s not a call to an expired listing that’s already been called 10 times this morning and it’s not a stock letter to “Dear Resident.”
Today, I believe your entire client base is going to come from two sources: 1) individuals that know you and how much you personally care about them and 2) their close friends.
I was once in a real estate class where the teacher was going over her marketing strategy. She explained how she disciplines herself to make a certain number of cold calls each day to expired listings. To her, those homeowners are a number on a piece of paper. And sadly, she’s not alone.
The question in 2008 is not how many addresses can I send my mailer to or how many cold calls can I make. As a real estate professional, you should be waking up in the morning and asking yourself, how many people can I meet and help today.
A Client Centered Approach
Agents often find themselves centered on their business, they spend time at networking mixers with other agents, they try to get the highest score on Activerain, they go to office meetings and they believe this is what they should be doing, after all, they’re a real estate agent so they should be doing “real estate agent like” things. The problem is, most of these fellow agents they’re getting to know at these meetings are probably not going to list a home with them!
Wouldn’t it make sense to ditch those networking mixers and instead spend that time volunteering within your community? You may not have as many agent-friends to go out to lunch with, and you may not talk to as many people (numbers) as you would have if you cold called. But what you gain in return is dozens of human beings who get to know you, who see how much you care. You’re no longer a salesperson looking for their business, you’re a friend that also sells homes. When they need to move are they going to call the guy that cold called them during diner last week or are they going to call you, their friend from the community organization/racquetball club/whatever?
Taking this Online
The internet is a goldmine for building relationships and getting to know people in your area. There are many agents who have a double digit number of clients today, all of whom found them online. It is being done, folks, and it is being done by those who understand the need to connect with their clients on a one-on-one basis.
The keyword of marketing in 2008 is community. Your success depends on your ability to become a part of and grow the community.
Offline, it’s easy: get yourself in a position where your neighborhood can rely on you, where you can meet members of the community and impact their lives in a positive way.
Online: the same rules apply. Join facebook, local message boards, follow local residents on twitter, leave comments on blogs written in your city. Anything online that members of your community use, you should be using too.
Try this, instead of spending 2 hours in realtor-centered networks, cut back to 1 hour and spend the other hour actively posting in a local home and garden forum (or whatever you have in your city). Instead of that friday morning meeting where your co-agents get together and complain about how bad the economy is, spend that time on facebook commenting on photos of members in your community. The bottom line is, start building relationships. It will transform your marketing and, most importantly, transform the size of your client base.
We’re all here to help each other succeed and I want to hear some of your experiences. Your last 3 clients: where did they come from? How did they find you? I’m sure this community, our community, would love to hear how you’ve been successful in building a client base.