In a previous post we looked at the importance of leveraging your real estate listings to generate additional business opportunities in the form of buyer and listing leads.
In this post we are going to explore 11 of the more common options an agent can utilized to generate leads and to market, create exposure and leverage their listings.
The different marketing methods range from the very inexpensive and free to more labor intensive and some that require a greater financial commitment.
Lastly, this post is not designed to be a comprehensive list of all the options and methods, nor is it designed to be a how-to guide for each method; although I have written how-to guides for some already, see links below, with more to follow.
Craigslist – this is one of my all time favorite ways to market listings. For one it is FREE and second, it takes virtually no time at all, 5-10 minutes per day. As a rule, you should place 1 ad per day, Monday-Saturday, for each of your vacant pre-marketing (REO) listing and each active listing until the property goes under contract. (If you are unfamiliar with how to post a property listing on Craigslist, you can check out my 5 minute tutorial). Cost – free/sweat equity
Open Houses – this method has a bad reputation in many real estate agent circles and is often cited as an ineffective means when trying to sell “the” house. The problem comes from misunderstanding the true purpose of an open house. Like all marketing, the purpose of an open house is to generate leads, period. You should not focus on trying to sell the home you are holding open, but rather you should focus on capturing the leads that walk in the front door, qualifying them and then helping them sell or buy a home, any home. To leverage your listings to their fullest, you should hold at a minimum of 2 open houses per month. If you have more than 2 listings, I would consider enlisting the services of a few other agents in your office so that you can hold at least 1 open house at each of your active listings each month. Cost – free/sweat equity up to $50 for flyers, refreshments, etc.
Sphere of Influence (SOI) – when leveraged correctly, your SOI can be your best source of leads, of both new and repeat business. These are the people who already know you, trust you and would be inclined to do business with you or refer business to you. A good SOI marketing strategy should include a minimum of 1 touch per month to each person in your sphere. A touch can be a call, a handwritten note, lunch or coffee, a mailer or email, etc. No matter what it is, it must always deliver value to your contact. When implemented consistently, a SOI strategy can easily net you 1 closing per year for every 10 individuals in your SOI. Cost – free/sweat equity, $1-15 per contact per month for cards, coffee, etc.
Newsletters – this is a great way to stay in touch with your SOI as well as your buyer and seller prospects. You can create your own custom publication with real estate updates, tips & tricks, seasonal recipes, home decorating ideas, etc., you can use one of the many services which provide you with a template you can then customize with your personal information or purchase a complete done-for-you service where all you have to do is supply the names for your mailing list. Generally, the more sweat equity you are willing to contribute, the lower your cost. Cost – $0.50-1.00 per contact depending on how much sweat equity you contribute
Online Lead Sources (Zillow, Realtor.com, Market Leader, Zurple, etc.) – there is no shortage of services that will sell agents online buyer leads. I have found those who combine selling leads (for a specific zip code for instance) with IDX exposure for the listing agent’s specific listing to the most effective one. If I can tell you only one thing about these services, it is that you must take advantage of and implement their agent review system by having as many of your past clients submit a review for your profile. Generally speaking, the more positive reviews, the more leads you will receive. Among these services though, Zillow stands out with their co-marketing option which allows you to share your monthly marketing cost with one of your lending partners. (Carrington real estate agents can contact their local CMS manager for details on how to partner with a CMS loan officer). You can read more about Zillow’s co-marketing here. Cost – min. $150/month to unlimited
Print Marketing – this category includes what we think of as the more traditional marketing avenues such as real estate magazines, newspaper classified and display ads, etc. While the death of print marketing has been much hyped, consider this, when Google solicits businesses to advertise with their online Adwords, they use print media! Used effectively, especially with higher price point listings (as determined by your local market), print marketing can be an excellent source of buyer leads and create credibility with seller prospects. Cost – starting at $50 for classified and display ads to unlimited
Listing Signs – experienced listing agents know that sign calls can be worth their weight in gold, but because they are so ubiquitous, sometimes it is easy to overlook listing signs as a marketing method. We as agents have the tendency to treat them more as means of marking our territory, like planting a flag on newly discovered ground, rather than as a means to generate leads. At a minimum your signs should include a personalized rider with your name and cell phone number to provide buyer prospects with a quick and easy means of reaching you. If you have the means and carry 10 or more listings at a time, you should consider investing in personalized listing signs to help build your brand, especially if you are heavily invested in a specific neighborhood. Cost – avg. of $15 for sign riders up to $100 for custom signs
Email Blasts – this method can be especially effective in conjunction with a buyer-in-waiting system (check out my post on pre-marketing properties) or as a means of delivering value to your SOI or lead database. This can include “check out my new listing” emails, “tips & tricks” emails and “market update” emails among the many options. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the emails must deliver value to the recipient so you don’t come across as a spammer. Cost – free if used sparingly with your email provide up to $0.25/per email per contact
Pay Per Click (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) – these are the ads that show up as the top 3 results or side panel ads when you use an online search engine. The most widely used PPC method is Google Adword. They can be an effective means of driving traffic to your real estate lead capture website. You can use these ads to generate leads for a specific geographic area, specific type of real estate and you can use generic black & white ads or image ads. Unlike traditional marketing where you pay for an ad and then hope & pray for results, i.e. leads, one of the many benefits of PPC is that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad and you can easily manage your budget by setting daily limits. If you are technologically inclined and have the patience, you can set up and manage your own PPC campaign. For the rest of us, there are many services to help you set up your PPC campaigns, just make sure the servicer you use has experience with real estate campaigns. Once your campaign is set up, your ads run on autopilot, providing you with a constant and steady stream of new leads. Cost – $10-25/per lead
Drip-Email Campaigns – these provide a convenient and automated means of staying in touch with the contacts in your lead database. They can be custom tailored to each prospect depending of the lead category, i.e. short-term buyers, out-of-town buyers, long-term sellers, renters, etc. You can also create seasonal campaigns around different holidays. If you are managing a lead database, and you most definitely should, you can have one or more campaigns activated for each prospect in your database. Cost – included with many contact managers (Boomtown, Market Leader, etc.)
Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, etc.) – with over 1 Billion users on Facebook alone, the impact of social media on the real estate industry can’t be understated. You can use Facebook and Facebook Pages as a mean create top-of-the-mind awareness for your real estate business, Twitter can be used much like a drip-email campaign and LinkedIn as a means of building relationships with other real estate professionals as a source of referral business for example. For a more comprehensive treatment of this subject, check out Wendy Forsythe’s excellent article on “Maximizing Your Social Media Presence”. Cost – free/sweat equity
While there are many more ways to market in real estate than mentioned here, I hope this article provided you with a starting point and maybe sparked some ideas on how to leverage your real estate listings, generate more leads and ultimately close more deals to increase your income.