The Two Sides to Real Estate Marketing

Every few years a real estate boom hits and new agents enter the field by the dozens – all excited about the big money to be made just by “being there.”

Then the boom ends and those agents are faced with reality: If you want to make a living in real estate you not only have to work hard at all details of listing, showing, and closing sales – you have to work hard at marketing. If you don’t, customers and clients will be scarce.

Before you have listings to sell, you must market yourself to homeowners. And with about one million Realtors working in the United States, you have to think of a way to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Placing the same tired “here I am” ads that everyone uses is more effective than nothing, but barely.

So – first you need to look at your own business and see what you do that’s better than your competition. It could be specialized knowledge in a certain niche, it could be extra service, it could even be a fanatic dedication to returning calls promptly. But it has to be something. If you choose a niche, be sure it is a certain kind of property, and not a certain kind of person.

Never suggest discrimination.
Then you need to seek out ways to get your message to the people. I recommend choosing a “farm area” and using direct mail. Just be very careful to write a professional, “you-directed” letter. Tell them how you’ll help solve their problems; don’t ask them to solve yours.

Of course you need to hand out business cards at every opportunity – even if you have to create the opportunities. Talk to people and be willing to give free advice when asked. Make friends with EVERYONE. You never know when that boy who carries your groceries out will go home and tell his Mom that he’s met the best Realtor in town. Be creative, keep your eyes open, and market at every opportunity.

Marketing to buyers is more difficult, because you don’t know who they will be. The good news is, NAR did a study and reported that over 77% of home buyers search first on the internet. That gives you the opportunity to market yourself and your listings at the same time. Just be sure to create a strong presence, because a listing on page 44 of a search won’t do you much good.

Marketing your listings is another two-part process. First you have to determine the words to use, and then decide where to put them.

Where to put them is the easy part. The internet is the obvious first choice, but you also have the MLS, a local Homes magazine, perhaps the newspaper, and direct mail to clients who might be interested. E-mail also offers a good opportunity to reach a large number of people at no cost.

The words are a little more tricky. Writing an ad that sounds just like every other ad will get you past the gatekeepers at MLS who insist on some ad copy, but it won’t bring you buyers excited to see your listing.

The creativity went out of house ads when the ADA and Fair Housing laws told us that we couldn’t use any words or phrases that might be considered discriminatory. Therefore we could no longer say “You can walk to the mall,” or “You can hear the leaves rustle in the trees.”

When ads were financially restricted to just a few words it became impossible to write good descriptions. But now, the internet allows unlimited words, so there’s no excuse for boring ad copy. Your real estate marketing can once again be creative, descriptive, and exciting. Your flyers also allow space for your creative efforts – so use it!

Stay away from mere features and bring back benefits. I don’t think anyone has outlawed the word “enjoy” yet, so you can tell buyers that they’ll enjoy the breeze, or the view from the deck, or the flickering fire in that massive rock fireplace. In other words, you can tell them there’s a view, you just can’t suggest that they can see it.

My first broker, way back in the Stone Age, said: “Put the reader in the house.” That advice is as true today as it was then. Make them “feel” how fantastic it will be when they live in that house.

In return, you’ll get faster closings, happier sellers, a better and better reputation, and… more money in your pocket.

Marte Cliff is a Freelance Copywriter and former real estate broker who specializes in writing for real estate and related industries.

Three Steps to Direct Mail Success

Direct mail is still the number one marketing strategy used by many successful sales companies. With direct mail, you have total control over the presentation of your message. Direct mail is a unique blend of advertising and sales. While good advertising should certainly lead to sales, direct mail allows you to present the product or service, make an offer and try to close the sale-all at once!

Here are just a few of the advantages of direct mail as a marketing strategy:

* Allows you to target your message to a very specific audience.
* Direct mail is a relatively inexpensive medium.
* Direct mail messages can be personalized to add reader appeal.
* You can evaluate its effectiveness. You can keep track of exactly who responded and from where.
* Mail readers are actively involved. People read their mail when they choose. So, for at least a second or two, your message will have their undivided attention while they open and scan it.

There are three elements to an effective direct marketing strategy:

1. The List
2. The Offer
3. The Mailing Piece

The first of these three steps to a successful direct mail campaign is obtaining the right list. Targeting the right market is the key to this marketing strategy. When selecting your list make sure you target people most likely to have an interest in what you have to offer as well as some things in common with your present clients.

This common ground might be age, sex, occupation, income, geographic area, family size, magazines they subscribe to or any number of other demographics. You can obtain lists that are specific to the demographics of your particular target market.

You should also maintain an up-to-date list of all your customers and clients. Direct mail to this list can create additional business, introduce new products and services or promote sales or special offers.

The second step of this marketing strategy is the development of a “matching offer”.

The offer you make in your direct mail needs to be carefully thought out and matched as closely as possible to the interests, needs and motivation of the people on the list. The more specifically you match the offer and the list the higher the response rate.

Let me use an example to demonstrate. When I was a mortgage consultant many of the sales people in the office sent direct mail. The list that was mailed to was targeted to homeowners who had taken out mortgages with specific lenders in a specific time period. The lenders that were targeted were known to be lenders with typically high interest rates.

The response and closing rate of those mailings were higher than a mailing that was sent to all homeowners in the same area because it was targeted to a group of people that would be more likely to want to refinance.

The third element of this marketing strategy is the mailing piece or the presentation of the offer to the list.

The most common and least expensive mailing piece format used by small businesses is the solo format. It’s a single sheet, printed on both sides and folded in half or thirds and mailed without an envelope.

Another solo format that’s even simpler and less expensive is a postcard or oversized postcard. This can be a very cost effective way of communicating with your list of customers and clients.

The next step in the development of your mailing piece is to write the copy or present your offer. Copywriting is a valuable skill. I urge you to develop the ability to write good advertising copy. Here are some tips to get you started.

* Take proven sales letters and ads and rewrite them to fit you and your offer.
* Create a swipe file of successful ads and letters. When you see an ad that catches your eye, save it.
* Save your “junk mail”. A lot of it’s written by the best copywriters in the world.
* Subscribe to the National Inquirer, The Star, The Globe, etc. The ads in these publications pull in millions of dollars worth of orders.
* Make sure your message matches your market. This means your offer has to have perceived value to your prospect.
* Use lots of testimonials in your ad copy.
* The headline is the most important part of any ad or letter.
* Use multiple PS’s in your letter. Restate the offer, deadline, free gift, etc.
* Offer multiple options for your services. Label them ex. Gold, Silver, Bronze.
* Before you write, make a list of all the objections a prospect could have for not buying your product or service and then answer them in your letter.

Direct mail is a profitable marketing strategy if it’s used properly and all three components are well thought out. It can provide you with an endless source of targeted leads for your product or service.

Top Tier Direct Sales Vs MLM

Top Tier Direct Sales or MLM, what’s it gonna be? While both fall in the category of the Direct Sales industry, they are very different business models that both carry advantages and disadvantages. So, for the purpose of this little piece, I’m going to help clarify a few things for you. Maybe after this you will be able to decide which is the best direction for you.

Top Tier Direct Sales: If you’re simply a sales person, this is for you. If you’re used to being paid commission only and your income is determined on your production only, this is for you. Do keep in mind, however, that a good majority of Top Tier Direct Sales companies do offer a residual incentive. The residual incentive is not going to be the bulk of your income, your straight sales volume and commission will be the determining factor of your success. The reason it is called Top Tier is simply because of the price of your item. This ranges from anywhere on the low end of $2,000 up to, and possibly over, $20,000. If you are someone who is involved in MLM this may seem like a very high price to get involved with an opportunity, especially if you’re having difficulties selling $40 bottles of vitamins. I want you to keep in mind that it is just as easy, if not easier, to sell a $20,000 item as it is a $20 item. I’m serious! You’ve already done all of the Marketing and Advertising. If your sales process is well thought out and effective, it becomes the same game only with more zeros!! Also, most Top Tier Direct Sales companies pay great commissions. For instance, if I sell a $20,000 item, I have the opportunity to walk away with over $10k. Not bad for one sale. Now, think about turning up the advertising and Marketing and averaging one or two of those a week and you begin to see the draw towards this business model.

MLM: Now, with this business model, the payouts are practically complete opposites. Your largest up front pay day might be $50. And let’s face it, that’s pretty much paid out to gain enthusiasm and recoup some up front costs. Your residual on the other hand can grow to be an absolutely staggering amount of money. It is not uncommon in this industry to see Top Earners in MLM companies making 6 figures a month from residuals. If you’re planning to go this route and have your dreams set on this type of business model, you are going to need to have a system in place that duplicates your success. The fact is 80% or more of your team will do little to nothing. So, you have to be an extremely good leader and motivator to enable your teams success. Get yourself 5-10 great leaders on your team and you’ll have yourself one heck of an organization. Simply do the math… If each of you can personally sponsor 50 people per year, your business grows to 250-500 people based on the amount of leaders you have. If you sponsor this many people and have that many leaders, I promise you your organization will be much larger than just 500, it would probably be closer to 5,000 or more. At this point you’re walking on stage and becoming a star in your company.

So, the decision is yours. What sounds better to you? Making huge up front commissions and smaller residuals, or making small up front commissions and huge residuals? There are many factors to think about when deciding which direction to head with your Direct Sales career. Keep in mind, whether it’s Top Tier Direct Sales or MLM, this industry always rewards leaders and those wanting to work to build a big business that generates a lot of Volume. I hope this helps you on your Journey. Until next time, Happy Marketing!