Donuts to Drop-Dead Views: Why Less is More in Real Estate Marketing

Services for Real Estate Pros with Property Target


An Ohio man became a multimillionaire selling railroad cars based on this simple philosophy:  selling is selling.  "I can sell anything.  I can sell donuts or railroad equipment.  It's all the same.  But I'd have to sell a lot more donuts."

The philosophy worked for the gentleman, who liked to brag that he was the dumbest kid in high school and made more money than the smartest.  And his story about donuts made him popular at cocktail parties.   But the fact is the man was, without knowing it, a genius marketer.  He carved out a small niche in a market with little competition.  He didn't try to sell everything.  He succeeded by selling a few things very well.

Apply the same strategy to your career in real estate.  Don't market yourself at the real estate agent who sells any kind of property anywhere.  Companies such as Property Target can increase your search engine rankings, generate leads online and draw thousands of potential clients to your virtual doorstep every month.  It's up to you to choose which ones are worth pursuing.

A Millionaire in Sheep (skin) Clothing

So work with a real estate marketing company to define your target market.  Devise a strategy that brings you the leads you want.  Back in the 80s, before the Internet, during a major recession and with mortgage interest rates topping 12 percent, a Michigan man became a millionaire in 5 years selling $50,000 homes.   He made more money than real estate agents selling $500,000 and $1 million homes in nearby neighborhoods.

Why?  Because he limited his market.  He sold the same type of home he grew up in to people who were just like him:  middle class, blue collar and decent.  He sometimes wore a tie -- but never an expensive one -- and his jackets were lined with sheepskin, not silk.  Real estate agents who tried to infiltrate his market -- pulling up to homes in Cadillacs and dusting off their fur and cashmere coats as they approached a homeowner's door -- didn't succeed.  They didn't know their market so they didn't get the listings and they didn't make the sales.

Technology makes real estate marketing cost effective, but your success depends on using an old-fashioned technique -- thinking -- to define your market.

Three questions to ask that will help you define the real estate market that's right for you:

1.  What Types of Properties Do I Want to Sell?

Do you want to sell condos, bungalows or mansions?   And where?  Every metropolitan area has a variety of properties in a variety of price ranges.  And the nuance of selling each is different.  In British Columbia, for example, Vancouver real estate in Fraser Valley differs markedly from properties in the downtown area.     Focus your efforts on a narrow market and gradually expand it rather than advertise yourself as a general real estate agent

2.  What Type of People Do I Want as Clients?

You don't have to belong to a country club to sell to the country club set, but you do have to establish a connection with potential clients.  If you can't think of any reason why someone from a country club would list a home with you, move on to another market.   Your goal is to sell properties so choose clients you know you can sell to.

3.  What Do I Do to Distinguish Myself from Other Real Estate Agents?

If you don't have an answer to that question, find one.  Maybe it's providing house cleaning services before an Open House.  Or selling homes faster or for more money than your competitors.  Maybe it's helping clients understand financing.  Rick Clarke, owner of Century 21 New Trends realty in Vancouver, regularly refers clients to Geoff Lee Mortgage Group, so that they can understand new, tougher lending regulations and calculate the true cost of home ownership before they bid on a property.

Market, Market, Market

Location is everything when it comes to the value of a property.  Marketing is everything when it comes to providing value to home owners and buyers.

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