What's Old is New Again -- Only Better
Here's what's to love
: real estate has roared back with a passion and agents, both new and seasoned are seemingly working smarter rather than harder. That's powerful and a trend most of us that have been around the real estate block a while can't wait to watch continue to grow and grow. Seeing agents succeed, work to the top of their game, without breaking the bank, or burning out will never grow old.
Savvy agents have realized that to survive and thrive in this industry despite the peaks and valleys requires smart business strategy, planning, tools, and skills. That whole chasing the next commission thing? So five years ago. When the bottom fell out of the real estate market, agents left the business by the droves -- some with lifetime careers in the rear view but nothing to show for their efforts. Why? They didn't build the foundation. They didn't keep a database or book of business. So instead of having something to sell when they were ready to exit (or had to exit) the industry, they just walked away. The other agents that dug in could because they put the work into building the three things agents really need in any market: a strong sphere of influence, geographic farm area, and niche market.
When times got tough we saw many agents and brokers get away from tried and true ideas in marketing, strategy, and mindset. Now that things are hopping again, they are back to doing what works -- but adding new twists based on technology and social media advances.
Here's what we see trending with today's agents:
1. Agents are back to building books of business
. Those agents we mentioned that left the industry with nothing to show for it did so because they never took the time to build a solid sphere of influence or geographic farm database that could be documented and sold. That's not what kept them from the ability to survive a market down-turn, and it is what kept their database keeping counterparts afloat. There was a big lesson there for agents and now we are seeing a resurgence of agents who are wisely putting all their contacts: friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, past clients, etc. all in a sphere of influence database. They create a separate contact list for prospects (those they are nurturing to put into their sphere), and another for their geographic farm area. Top agents add a fourth list to the database -- that of a niche market that they are passionate about. We had a tremendous response to a recent article: The 250 People Who Should Be in Your Sphere. The problem for most agents is they think they don't have the time to sit down and input the data into a manageable system. The truth is they don't have a long-term, sustainable business without making the time -- or better still, delegating that duty and hiring someone to input the information while they stay close to their highest and best use of time which is, of course, prospecting, presenting, and closing real estate transactions.
2. Agents are using Just Listed/Just Sold marketing consistently. When agents tightened their belts, many stopped marketing altogether or relied solely on "free" email marketing to reach out. The Direct Marketing Association that tells us that 90% of consumers review their mail the day it's delivered, 56% find print mail more trustworthy, and 48% retain their mail for future reference. Companies like www.ProspectsPLUS.com, a leading provider for direct response and print marketing for agents for more than 25 years, has seen the trend back to trusted marketing tools such as Just Listed and Just Sold postcards grow exponentially in the last year. "The magic of Just Listed and Just Sold postcards is that they do three things very effectively: they market the property, the agent and their brand, and give consumers basic information that they want such as home prices in their area," shared company president Jim Morton. "That's never changed. What has changed is the ability to source the data so that sending these workhorses of a marketing tool to the nearest 100-500 homes around a new listing is so much easier now than it used to be. We use Experian data with more than 128 million consumer records and make it as simple for agents as starting with the listing address or drawing a polygon on a Google map. We even allow agents to automate the process with our MLSmailings product. Agents tell us every week about the results they are getting such as this one pulled from our Facebook reviews this month from Darren Brown: ‘ProspectsPLUS! has been a great resource for my business. The quality of their products is exceptional and I have had high client reviews when receiving the marketing materials. It is easy to design with their templates and have it designed within minutes. Shipping was fast and I am well pleased with their service. I have already listed and sold one home from the direct marketing and have generated numerous leads. I will continue using them for future marketing.'"
3. Agents are once again geographic farming. For a long while the idea of geo-farming and door knocking was almost taboo in the industry. Scoffed as a waste of time when email became the holy grail of marketing. Agents have gone back to being community centric. Making it a point to come out from behind their computer screens and actually walk the neighborhoods in which they want to be recognized as the specialist to turn to. They are ‘warming' their farm areas with postcard marketing, then knocking on doors, leaving door hangers, meeting neighbors, answering questions -- even hosting real estate Q & A events at the local coffee shops, libraries, and community centers. That's smart business. We know people buy and sell with those folks they know, like, and trust. Savvy agents are making it their business to make solid relationships in their communities to earn that trust -- and that business. "I needed more than just a phone call. The postcards are a highlight to my business now," said Jeremy Hollingsworth. "This has also allowed me to start farming a few neighborhoods that I drive through with a more personal touch."
4. Agents are marketing smarter. To find hand-raisers in their markets, agents are using ‘old school' marketing tools like postcards, newsletters, and flyers -- but they are getting better at matching their message to their marketing segments. Especially when they are working valuable niche markets such as Expireds, or First time home buyers. They are even taking it a step further with the advance of new data technology such as the specialty Prizm Code selects from Nielsen provided by the folks over at ProspectsPLUS.com. Now agents who love to work with buyers and sellers in golf or boating communities for example, can pull specialty lists of consumers who have expressed an interest in those areas and send them marketing pieces that speak specifically to those interests. That's a powerful combination and one that is helping agents carve out, and take market-share ownership for those niches.
It's an exciting time in our industry. Agents are out in their communities, staying top of mind with their business base, and once again taking their incomes to new levels. By wisely adopting smart strategies, easy-to-implement marketing tools, and staying ahead of the trends by partnering with education-based resources that help them stay competitive on top of their game, the sky's the limit as to what agents can accomplish.