When I say “branding” I’m not necessarily referring to matching signs and baseball caps to set you apart. That’s fine, but that’s another conversation.
Here I’m talking about attracting with value. First though, we have to target our audience.
Targeting Your Ideal Client
Most agents say their target audience is “anyone,” and not surprisingly, anyone is who they usually attract. One of the first things I ask agents to do when we’re putting together their outreach plan (aka marketing plan) is have them think about their ideal client. Getting crystal clear on who you want to work with, and then writing it down, will help you concentrate your efforts in ways that will draw that kind of client toward you.
So let’s break it down. In a nutshell, you have two types of farming, right? Geographical (a specific neighborhood), or non-geographical (horse property or seniors, for example). In order to start then, we need to know the best way to find those people. For your geographical farm, where are those people going out to dinner? Is there a neighborhood Farmer’s Market? What social media platform are they on? Where do they shop and what do they do for recreation? These are things that will help you target your outreach efforts.
For non-geo farms, let’s say I’m targeting divorcingcouples. Wouldn’t divorce attorneys be a good place to reach them? For horse-property, where do people buy their hay? What horse trainers do they use? If you’re on social media, are you using targeted ads to find your ideal client? Finding them is the first step.
Long gone are the days of pushy prospecting. What you are asking people for is their most precious asset; their time. Time is attention and people are plum out of it. In a sea of real estate professionals for each neighborhood, having a fancy sign or simply asking for business is not the way today’s consumer wants to buy.
As we know, today’s buyers and sellers are starting their research online. They know (or think they know) what their home is worth or much money they can spend on a house. While we all know the information they discover can sometimes be more harmful than good, the point is that the Internet has given consumers a way to reach us and a way for us to reach them. But then what? Here’s where value comes in.
Let’s say someone posts on Facebook that they’re going to sell their house, does anyone know a good agent. Several people will reply, tagging their agent friend. In some cases, if the person referring is a good friend, more weight will be given (social proof), but what happens when we add value to the mix?
While I’m the first to admit I train my agent clients to build referral-based businesses, if that isn’t initiated with value and maintained through relationship, then the referrals will be slow coming, if they come at all.
Let’s take the geographical farming example. I’m going to use a short list of examples, but let your imagination run wild, because there are as many examples as there are agents in your area. Of course we’re assuming I already have some neighborhood recognition through For Sale signs, open house invites, mailers, etc. So what are some things I could do to provide value? Again, this list is just to give you an idea that value can be delivered in a myriad of ways: start a neighborhood watch, buy cookies from their kids, drop off doggie treats, help organize a neighborhood garage sale, get involved with community events, support the local school’s charity drive, sponsor the soccer team, etc. (do you see the great door-knocking opportunities with some of these?).
Notice how none of the above had anything to do with real estate? Too many agents assume that offering free reports, preparing a CMA, or sending a list of available properties constitutes service. Sure, these are valuable attributes and important processes to your business, but guess what? You have to get your prospect’s ATTENTION so that you’re the one they ASK those services for. And value can be key.
Think about it. Who are you going to list your house with? The agent you never heard of that one of your Facebook friends referred or the one who just bought 7 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies from your daughter? The one who knocked on your door asking for business or the one who dropped off milk bones and invited you to an open house? As Robert Caldini so eloquently explained in the Power of Influence, people reciprocate when value is delivered.
Some agents may argue that they’re professionals conducting professional businesses and that should be plenty, and I would fully agree. But your business, admit it or not, is people. And people are emotional creatures (just like you). Whether you work with investors on flips or luxury listings in Malibu, one thing is clear: people are buying your business based on how you make them feel. Provide value first, and then run the comps when they ask you, and you’ll notice your ideal clients are filling your pipeline.
To recap, get clear on your ideal clients, find out where they are, and get in front of them with value.
To your success,
P.S. If you’re looking for an innovative way to grow your business, don’t forget that success is an inside job. Read my (almost free) book, or look into my 8-Week Boot Camp.