than we found them, more able to get where they’d like to go.”
—Seth Godin, American Author and Marketer
If you want to be successful in real estate, you’re going to have to get serious about sales and marketing. The reality is if you don’t sell, you don’t eat. Do not let this reality scare you off, however. Yes, you have to learn sales and marketing, but it is entirely possible to get really good at this stuff, and I’m going to do everything I can to show you how. Moreover, if you choose the right broker (See Strategy #1: Partner with the Right Real Estate Broker), you’re going to have a leg up right from the start.
If sales and marketing makes you uncomfortable, I have some good news: It gets a whole lot easier and more comfortable the more you understand how to do it well. Sleazy, high pressure sales people and “interrupt marketing” have given sales and marketing professionals a bad rap. The fact is that when sales and marketing is done well it’s not annoying or distasteful at all. In fact, effective sales and marketing is much more like building a network of mutually beneficial relationships, even friends. Indeed, you may even find that once you start to develop your skills and capabilities in sales and marketing this will become your favorite part of the business.
We’re going to get deep into the details of mastering both sales and marketing in another article. At this point, however, I want to provide six of what I believe are the most critical factors in developing a solid marketing plan. The famous bestselling author Napoleon Hill once said, “The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail.” In my experience, Hill hits the nail on the head with this idea and, therefore, my goal is to make sure you have the plan you need to succeed.
Adopt a Proven Plan.
Executing around an effective plan is critical to your success. And, yet, there is essentially an unlimited number of possible ways to market your real estate business. Part of your success, therefore, depends on finding the (proven) approach that works best for you, and then sticking to it until you master that approach.
It is a mistake, however, in my experience, to attempt to do this by trying a little bit of everything until you stumble upon something that works. Instead, think of yourself as a researcher collecting data, analyzing each approach until you find your best performer. In the words of Apple’s Steve Wozniak, “You need the kind of objectivity that makes you forget everything you’ve heard, clear the table, and do a factual study like a scientist would.”
If you are primarily working alone or with a small team, you cannot expect to effectively dominate every possible marketing channel available to you today—and you shouldn’t try. It is far better to focus on a few key marketing channels as a start in order to serve those audiences exceptionally well. Once you have your system mastered it is far easier to grow into an additional channel.
Without going into too much detail, the following are some of the possible approaches you might adopt, beginning with my recommendations:
- Practical Approach for New Realtors. I believe this combination is the best, most practical approach for new real estate agents:
- Content Marketing (e.g. blogging, micro blogging, or video blogging) on your own, personal website (not the freebie your broker provides, and not WordPress.com, or Blogger.com, or any of the multitude of other free sites.). Instead, buy your own URL and hosting plan and install WordPress.org. You want to own and control your business (more on this below).
- Social Media Marketing. Do not try to do it all. Instead, pick one or two (max) of the following and really commit yourself to building an audience on these channels: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube. Remember: Do not try to “sell” people here. Focus on adding massive value and building authentic relationships, and the business and referrals will come. As Zig Ziglar used to say, “Stop selling. Start helping.” (More on this later). Obviously, this list will change over time, and I will be sure to update this as that happens.
- An Offline Strategy. In addition to the two strategies above, I recommend that new realtors have at least one offline strategy to build their business and drive traffic to their website. This should include proper real estate signage, but might also include a few of my personal favorites: offering free presentations, and creating useful flyers and handouts (see more options below). I would also include creating business cards to handout at local community and networking events here, but this probably falls more under the category of networking than marketing per se.
- Other Popular Online Channels Useful for Realtors. Guest Blogging (i.e. you write a “guest post” for a colleague on his or her website—and vice versa—and link back to each other’s websites—this is vitally important for SEO), Micro-blogging (Twitter, Tumblr, etc.), Video Marketing (YouTube, Vimeo, Yahoo! Screen, et cetera.), Photo or Image Marketing (Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr) Facebook Ads, Mobile Ads, Affiliate Ads, Google Ads, etc.
- Other Popular Offline Approaches for Realtors. Newspaper Ads, Inserts, Billboards, Benches, Mailers, Classifieds, Door Hangers, Catalogs, Events, Article Flyers, Contests, Prizes, Publicity Stunts, etc.
- A Few Options to Consider as You Grow. Local Television Ads, Magazine Ads and Articles, Editorials, Local Celebrity or VIP Endorsements, and App Development.
Remember: The key is to engage (with relevant, valuable, and consistent content) your potential clients where they are already spending their time. And then add massive value! In the words of author and marketing consultant Jay Baer, “Make your marketing so useful people would pay for it.” Also, keep in mind that these are for your real estate business (which is in addition to the marketing you will do for each individual home you’re selling).
Focus Your Efforts.
Do not try to do it all. That is the recipe for failure. I recommend you choose a maximum of three different strategies, preferably one offline and two online, and then work those channels for at least 3 to 6 months before you decide whether or not to move on. I also recommend you focus the bulk of your marketing time on one of these three areas, and use the others primarily to direct traffic back to your website. Also, watch out for social media—it can quickly eat into your time in a way that is not necessarily good for business.
Remember: Focus is critical to your success as a new agent. In the words of real estate investor Mark Ferguson, “The number one tip I can give any new agent is focus. Do not try to make money with eight different types of marketing, by working in commercial, residential, high end, low end, investment, short sales, HUD and REOs. It is fine to sell those types of deals if they fall into your lap,” he continues, “but you can’t market to everyone. If you try to market to everyone you will become a master of nothing and mediocre at everything.”
The fact is people could care less if your name is everywhere, or you are capable of conducting every type of real estate transaction. They want to work with the realtor who specializes in their particular area of interest. People want to work with a realtor, as Ferguson puts it, “who is awesome at one thing; the type of real estate transaction they need help with.” Thus, when you are thinking about your marketing plan, be sure you’re clear about your overall focus in real estate. This leads to another idea central to your success: Finding you niche.
Determine Your Niche.
Your “niche” in real estate goes beyond sales and marketing, but the topic is equally critical here. In fact, you will have a much easier time developing an audience (fans, followers, visitors, subscribers, etc.), regardless of which channel you choose, if you start with a clearly defined niche. Otherwise, you will risk looking just like the tens of thousands of other real estate businesses and websites out there. Decide who your target is and market to where they are. In the words of Anita Clark (another Georgia (GA) real estate agent), “My top tip for succeeding as a new Realtor is to develop a niche. Become the local real estate expert on a particular process (i.e. short sales), type of client (i.e. first-time buyers), community/subdivision, etc. When you combine that expertise with a solid blogging plan that includes the use of social media…you are building a strong foundation that will generate new prospects, leads, and clients for years to come.” I couldn’t agree more. The other key point here worth highlighting is the fact that she includes blogging and social media regardless of the niche. Developing an active presence online is not a part of some niche strategy, and it’s not an option if you expect to kill it in real estate today—it’s essential! The next key factor is along these same lines.
Build Your Real Estate Business Entirely Around Your Website.
Marketing consultant Chris Brogan, author of Trust Agents, once advised his audience, “No matter what, the very first piece of social media real estate I’d start with is a blog.” According to Marcus Sheridan, author of The Sales Lion, “In today’s information age of Marketing and Web 2.0, a company’s website is the key to their entire business.” No matter which marketing channels you choose, everything must be directed back to your website and blog. And there are a few reasons for this:
- First, your website is a place where you can easily listen to and interact with potential clients, share information with them, including contact information which you can use to connect again later.
- Second, you own and, therefore, control your website. This means you don’t have to worry about the rules being changed on you, losing access to some or all of your contacts (friends, followers, fans, etc.), or having some corporation’s marketing channel or business take a different direction or go under all together.
- Third, your website can be used as a powerful tool for working toward one of your most important goals as a real estate agent (or any other business, for that matter): Building your email list.
Contrary to the hype you hear every so often, email is here to stay. It is the new rolodex. In fact, according to a 2014 survey by Gigaom Research, “Email emerged as the digital-marketing workhorse, deemed effective for meeting all objectives. In fact, marketers consistently ranked email as the single-most-effective tactic for awareness, acquisition, conversion, and retention. In particular, email shines for customer retention.”4
According to the author of another study of over 1,000 marketers, email marketing also provides the best ROI (return on investment).5 The truth is there is virtually nothing that compares to a list of people that voluntarily opted in to your email list (not Facebook friends, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, YouTube subscribers, Instagram followers, or website visitors). Why? Simple. Your visibility stats (the percentage of people that actually read your emails) for your email list (particularly if you add value, and follow basic headline, content, and writing guidelines—more on that later) completely dominates all of these other channels—and are expected to get even better as these other channels get more and more crowded, show fewer and fewer posts to each individual member of your community, and give increasing priority to paid content (This is capitalism, remember? When a social media site goes public, expect it to begin serving shareholders first).
Remember: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Matters for Real Estate Success.
The fact that your website is so fundamental to your real estate business, means that you’re going to have to get serious about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). No matter what channels you adopt as part of your overall marketing strategy, you will still want to make it as easy as possible for people to find you online. Even if your website URL is written in 10 inch letters at the top of your massive interstate billboard, you still want people to be able to find you by your name, and perhaps the word “realtor” or “real estate agent,” and, therefore, SEO matters—a lot.
If, on the other hand, you’re primarily focused on online marketing strategies (as you should be), then SEO is all the more critical. The good news is that search engines (Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo! Search, etc.) are getting smarter and smarter, which means that writing quality, valuable, relevant, and timely content on a regular and consistent basis–which you are already (hopefully) doing for your audience anyway–is increasingly the bedrock of effective SEO. When you combine this with a short list of the most critical SEO plugins (most all of which are free through a content management system like WordPress.org), you’re a long way toward mastering the search engine rankings.
Make Your Real Estate Marketing Plan a Habit
Finally, make the execution of your marketing plan, with specific daily objectives at scheduled times, into a habitual practice. This speaks not only to the importance of consistency that the online community loves, but also to the need to attract a steady flow of potential leads. Soon after you start to neglect your marketing efforts, your real estate business will begin to feel the squeeze. Do not let this happen to you. Make your marketing a habitual part of your daily practice for building your real estate business. “There are no magic wands, no hidden tricks, and no secret handshakes that can bring you immediate success,” writes author and speaker Darren Rowse, “but with time, energy, and determination you can get there.”
Habits, of course, also speak to the reality of human nature. Indeed, a critical part of success in any field is consistent execution. If you build your marketing plan around the key ideas outlined above, break it into a practical set of daily objectives, and then develop these best practices into a daily habit, you will be well on your way to building a successful real estate business. Remember: It’s all about the habits. As author and Hollywood screenwriter Steven Pressfield once said, “The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits. An amateur has amateur habits. A professional has professional habits.”
If you have a specific question for me about becoming a realtor, I would love to hear from you.
And if I don’t know the answer, I will find a realtor who does. Click the “Ask John” button to ask now: