I am by no means an expert in Real Estate. My background is primarily in online marketing, math and building web apps. When I got started working in the real estate industry (starting offrs.com - a tech company focused on helping agents/brokers) about 3 years ago, I had a lot to learn about the industry, about agents and most importantly on "real estate marketing".
My first focus was "seller lead generation". So I surveyed agents and brokers on what they were currently doing, and the answers were pretty much all the same 1) Word of Mouth / Referral 2) Postcards 3) Networking. So as you can imagine my wheels were spinning on how we could add the power of technology into the market to expand and improve on how agents generate seller leads.
The first step in any marketing campaign (or for any business to operate) is to identify your market. So...
STEP 1: Where is my customer?.
Well, the answer is "every house". So this poses a problem. Nobody has the time or budget to market to every home owner, especially if it requires multiple touches and a genuine conversation to build a relationship. So you should identify a "Territory" where you feel you have the best chance of winning business. It could be the neighborhood you live in, or an area where you feel there is little competition. Remember, the territory will become your "product" and you will need to be the "expert". So pick something that will suit you and your vision for your business.
Next... we need to target homeowners who are looking to sell (Not Easy). So this is where my background in math kicked in. What if we can identify home owners more likely to list their home and respond to our marketing. Obviously, this would greatly reduce the number of homes I would need to target.
STEP 2: Identify home owners most likely to list their Home.
Of course this is not easy. We ended up building an algorithm that takes in consideration hundreds of variables, and requires access to massive databases of properties and consumers. Remember, it's not just the algorithm, but also the data itself. Having easy access to all the home owners in your area, phone numbers, mailing address, emails, social media links are all required to put together a marketing campaign. If you don't have access to this data and algorithm, then you may have to brute force and knock on every door, every 3-6 months. Not easy.
STEP 3: Create your "Campaign"
This is where most agents don't invest the time (and money) needed to really stand above the competition. Unfortunately, if everyone is sending the same postcard, with the same design and layout - the consumer begins to become numb to it's effect. We all have experienced this on the web, where we ignore banner ads, because we know what they look like and where they are - so we just don't pay attention to them. This means you need to really step up the game, and come up with unique ways to highlight your marketing (even if it's a direct mail). You also need to think about creating a multi-touch campaign leveraging other channels (phone, email, social media, online ads, letters).
So instead of relying on Just Sold, Just Listed - think about what can help you build a true relationship with the home owner. How do you create a "digital bond" with every home owner. This is the "Holy Grail" of marketing. If you have a home owner who values your monthly email, or sees your facebook posts, or responds to your txt messages - you own that listing.
It's not easy. It does take time. But it will secure your place at the #1 agent in the area.
STEP 4: Keep the Conversation Going.
Once you identify a home owner and created a connection, they may not be looking to list their house tomorrow, so you need to keep the conversation going. Implement a system to do "sphere marketing" where you send them a friendly txt message every so often, add them to a email newsletter or simply remind yourself to call during holidays. Once you have created the "digital bond", you are in first position to get the listing (unless they forget about you). Don't let them forget you are the expert.
I hope these simple steps explain how to generate seller leads. It is definitely a long term commitment. There are no short cuts to building relationships, but there are amazing tools that can automate the front end (identifying potential sellers) and on the backend (automating sphere marketing).
Tags: Lead Generation, Seller Leads, Smart Data, Predictive analytics,offrs,offrscom