"There are no losers. There are only lessons."
Although I retired from active sales over 6 years ago, some of my most effective marketing tools will probably still work today. So, this is my entry in Jeff Dowler's Best Marketing Tools Challenge for February.
PART 1 - LOSERS:
Direct Mail: This strategy was never effective for me simply because I wasn't consistent. I did this off and on over the years and was never consistent due to time management issues. I targeted apartment complexes and mid-range neighborhoods with constant turnover. I had perfectly good intentions but always got sidetracked. In hindsight, I should have outsourced this task. I know it would have worked and my business would have grown much quicker. The lesson: Don't do direct mail if you won't be consistent. It is a total waste of time and money.
Cold Calling: I never liked cold calling, but the franchise I worked at had occasional cold calling nights at the office. I hate being cold called and I hated doing it. I never got one appointment from this strategy because I didn't have my heart in it. People can tell. The lesson: Don't use a marketing strategy you don't believe in. It won't work and you'll be miserable trying.
PART 2 - WINNERS:
Since I have been out of the business for several years, I'm not going to make any technological recommendations here... except for the general comments about blogs and websites.
* 3 1/2" x 8 1/2" lined notepads. I used the lined version because they are great for lists, notes, etc. I purchased the ones with 25 pages per pad because they were compact. I took a couple to ALL listing presentations, left them at listings, and included one in each mailing I sent out... including bills paid to local companies. The local bill-paying strategy might not be valid anymore since most people pay their bills online or through auto-pay these days. I also donated hundreds of these notepads to be stuffed in goodie bags at golf tournaments and women's conferences. I often received requests for a refill supply from clients because they gave them to family and friends. Be generous with them. They're a very inexpensive, and useful, tool. Of course, be sure all your contact info is on the notepad, including your web address, blog, phone, e-mail, etc. The cost was about .25 per pad. They are no doubt more now.
* Bookmark size business cards: I loved these! I had a variety of designs... flags, flowers, golf, fall foliage, and others. Other agents often commented on how great they are. Of course, I leave them at showings, and I've had other agents say their clients use them as bookmarks. I've been told this type of business card is not on the approved design list for some of the big franchises. I don't know what the current sources of these bookmark size business cards are. I used to order them through VistaPrint. I think my cost was about .10 each. I don't remember. Again, they are no doubt more expensive now.
* My primary blog: I started my blog before most people even knew was blogging was. This blog ranked very high Google rankings for my keywords "Wenatchee Real Estate" "Wenatchee real estate agent" and other Wenatchee related terms. I watched where my traffic came from, and Google was, by far, my #1 referring website source. Also, I put a bright yellow piece of paper in every envelope I mail with my blog address. It says: "For current Wenatchee real estate news, info and trends, visit www.CarolsWenatchee.com." Since I've retired, this site has been deactivated. The hosting cost was $17 per month. I was able to attribute 75% of my new business to my blog and website, which were linked together and also on all marketing materials.
* My "other" blogs: Besides my primary blog, I also had some niche blogs for condos, rentals, and general real estate in surrounding towns. These were all linked back and forth to each other and with my IDX website.
* My website: I received a lot of unsolicited e-mail from prospects about what a great source of information this site was. It was a standard template from a local IDX website provider, but I stripped it and made it unique to me. I didn't want it looking like every other agent in town. It was not the most flashy professional look, but I did get a lot of great comments. It reflected my personality which was professional and knowledgeable, but casual. As stated above, 75% of my business during the last few years I was active came from my primary blog and website. The cost was $59 per month.
* Hobbies: My hobby happened to be golf. I played 2 - 4 times a week and received a lot of business from my golfing friends. Don't dismiss the opportunity to get business while having fun. The cost was about $1500 per year, and it was money I was going to spend anyway.
PART 3 - The Future
I am retired now, so I have no future marketing plans. I do have my trusted REALTOR® friends that I refer business to, and I help them with marketing if they want it.