Here’s the second installment on our theme. As we look at ways to reinvent and resurrect our real estate businesses today, in this post we focus on the seminal issue of how to go about Changing your Marketing Strategy.
Have you revisited your Marketing Strategy recently? Do you have one?
The word strategy comes from Greek and Latin roots that mean “to capture and hold territory in battle.” It’s a military word that we’ve adopted in business, but it is apropos because our goal in marketing is to capture and hold customers. It’s easy to be a marketing genius when there is no battle, when everything is going well and customers are beating down your door. When housing could do no wrong, and prices kept going up, farming and calendars and refrigerator magnets worked…but in today’s tight housing market where we have to go out and find customers ourselves, these old tools are pretty ineffective.
One of the historic downsides of having so many real estate brokers and salespeople enter our industry in the late 1990’s was the homogeneity of marketing tools it generated. Everyone banked on the passive marketing techniques of yesteryear such as direct mail, community vans, billboard advertising, and promotional calendars. Today, passivity in marketing will kill you.Better to go active. Here’s five quick ways you can start with today:
- Reach out and Touch– In short, pick up the phone, and go catch yourself some customers! We had a formula in my office in the 90’s. For every 100 “cold calls” we made, we’d get 10 appointments, and of those 10 appointments, we’d end up with 3 clients.Kimberly Mackey, a real estate brokerage consultant in Florida says “The phone still works today. Call people!” Doug Steinmeyer built a thriving mortgage brokerage business from scratch with simply one marketing strategy- he always ended every conversation with the phrase: “perhaps you know someone who could use my services. Could you give me the names of just two people?” Don’t forget, we are in the people business.
- Reserve a Room– One of the best ways to capture potential clients is to hold “informational seminars” for free. Don’t have a budget for big meeting? You can reserve a library meeting room or other public place for free normally if you are a taxpayer, and send invitations by email at no cost. Just have fifty people every month and use powerpoint to teach them about real estate, short sales, foreclosures, tax breaks, and new financing options. They’ll tell their friends and every month you’ll have more people.This was the foundation for most successful individual investment brokers in the 90’s pioneered by Edward Jones. Better yet, get a Mortgage broker to hold the meeting with you jointly.
- Rediscover Radio and Newspapers – Not for paid advertising, but the better kind, that costs nothing, called publicity. Become the “expert” in your market and volunteer to do local shows about housing. Offer to do a Saturday call in show for free. Write an editorial in your local newpaper once a week. All these things drive people to seek you.
- Expand Geographically- In almost every state that licenses real estate professionals, your license and your ability to transact business extends to all the borders of your state. That means that if I got my license in St. Louis, I can also work in Kansas City Missouri. If my office is in Van Nuys, I can also work in Manteca California and Beverly Hills. No extra permission needed. So why do so many of us just stay glued to our home cities? Two reasons: force of habit, and we’re scared. But desperation usually burns the fear out of us, and times like these demand aggressive action, to wit:Start your new office cheap. Run two line classified ads in other major city’s newspapers offering “Free Short Sale Info in xxx city.” Place notices on city websites.Use WordPress to launch a new website just for that office. It will cost you zero. Then write blog entries for the site, and for the city specifically. You’ll get SEO benefit, rankings, and trafficVisit the new city once/month and do Rotary lunches, meetings, etc. Eventually when you have 50 contacts invite them to your Informational Seminar (mentioned above.)
- Expand Demographically – Over the past 10 years, our core market has changed dramatically. Over 30% of the youth today live in a home that speaks something other than English. I did a CE course after the year 2000 census on the demographic changes in the USA, and real estate professionals in Missouri were surprised to learn that there were over 500,000 people classified by the census as “Hispanic” living in St. Louis Missouri. That was eight years ago. Today the in the San Fernando Valley of L.A. there is more signage in languages other than English than in English, including Vietnamese, Hebrew, Greek, and of course Spanish. USA Today showed a chart this past weekend illustrating that in every state but Louisiana, religion has dropped as much as 20%. Yesterday’s growth segment was middle-managers aged 45-55, but baby boomers today are hording their money and NOT a good market segment to serve unless you can talk to them about retirement. The X-generation is the segment of the future. All this to say, if you are still banking on your future customers to look like you, talk like you, and be your same age, you’ll be needing a lot less office space, soon. Here are some new demographic segments in which you could serve and specialize to resurrect your business now:
First time homebuyers – Be the “starter home” specialist
Immigrants and foreigners – “Se habla espanol”
Single parents – Special services for special people
Investors – For the foreclosure and short sale products
Baby Boomers in movement – Yes, if they are looking at retirement, because they plan on moving somewhere.
High-end professionals – Like Doctors, are still buying homes.
Women – No it is not discriminatory to say you specialize in the home buying needs of women. See example from Boston www.condodomain.com
The handicapped – Yes, this is a growing, profitable segment.
The military – Lots of soldiers coming back home soon!
Bottom-line: In today’s market, almost any NEW marketing strategy will be better than your old one, so get brave, be strong, and be bold. Your future depends on shaking things up!
Want to find out if you have what it takes to be a Real Estate Agent or Broker?