Getting in Front of our key target market – the Homeowner

By
Home Stager with Magick Home Makeovers
Having a strong network with Real Estate Agents is a critical pipeline to staging jobs, no question.  However, we have all identified challenges in terms of building referral alliances with the REA community. 

Although there is a wave of agents using staging as a standard marketing tool for their vendors, there is a larger faction who use it hit and miss, or do not use it all.

It is not the agents who have the most to lose from a mediocre approach to property marketing, it’s the homeowners. 

And therefore I believe that the homeowner is our real target market. 

I am asking for your own experience of where staging leads come to your company. 

homeowner offers staging assignment

 

Do the majority of your projects come from agents or homeowners?

How are you reaching those markets? 

Let me start with my own experience.

I have never received a staging assignment directly from a REA, although I have been approached by several and marketed to many.  

 

Homeowners have reached me by referral only so far.  One of my projects came from a well established residential referral company in my community dealing primarily with guaranteed contracting services.  Through them I market interior decorating services.

Two of my bigger projects came from a client with whom I networked while building our businesses. 

The rest have come from referral from former design clients. 

These vendors came to me from a general understanding that a lot had to be done to get their properties ready for sale.  None of them would have looked specifically for a staging service, they were focusing on the renovation and redesign they needed, so they reached out to me for those services, and I did the education about the staging process. 

I am working on a marketing strategy which will get me and my colleagues in front of large groups of our target market.  For me that would be homeowners transitioning from the equity rich empty nest into the condo.  For my colleague Dane Caldwell from 2-Hounds, I presume to guess it would be downtown homeowners and landowners with rental properties, selling vacant living spaces. 

Whatever your niche, I would love to hear how your clients have reached you so far, and how you get yourself in front of your target market.  

Comments (12)

Yvonne Root
rooms b.y. root - Prescott, AZ
Home Stager - Northern Arizona

Debbi, You have put together a well thought out post. Just like I thought you would. :) My understanding is you are perhaps marketing to home owners associations. Is that correct? Or are you going at this from the other end and contacting the builders of the communities in which these home owners are planning to purchase? 

While I've had many contacts from home owners it is the contacts with REAs that have been more likely to go beyond the "how much" stage with me. I don't know if it is the "expert" factor of the REAs presenting me to the home owner of if I simply need to get better at closing that is causing the gap. :) I do know that pre-qualifying is a huge factor in being able to get to square one with any sales business.

You have identified the fact that pre-qualifying goes beyond having a form in front of you when talking to prospective clients on the phone. It goes to the idea of identifying the target market and pursuing that market with tailored marketing materials. 

It will be fun to see what others are doing in order to get to the "real" clients and the channels they use. Thanks for putting this out for the home stagers to think about and respond to!  

Feb 07, 2008 05:47 AM
Melissa Marro
Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team - Orange Park, FL
Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging

I also have to agree with Yvonne.  At least 95% of my business comes from the REAs.  Probably another 8% of the remaining 10% are investors or builders that have contacted us directly (most of those were still referred to us at some point by their REA).  That makes 2% or less of my business from a single homeowner.

Nearly 100% of my marketing is done directly to network with agents.  I find it just isn't cost effective to market to individual homeowners.  There are two primary reasons for this 1) They usually want to know what you know and do it themselves 2) Once that sale is done, you are done & have to look for another client. 

When I target REAs - 1) they are looking for an expert who is committed to making their listings sell 2) They have access to many listings and when one sale is done there is still another one for me to stage...

Feb 07, 2008 05:53 AM
Debbi Callander
Magick Home Makeovers - Mississauga, ON

Melissa - Thanks for your viewpoint.

I agree with the wealth of repeat referrals that agents can offer us, but they are such a hard sell at least for me so far.  Once I have a motivated homeowner in front of me, I will close the sale every time. 

I had hoped my work would sell itself to agents when they brought clients through, but the properties I have staged go fast (honest) and not many see them.  I know we all need great portfolios for our websites for agents to look at and I have really lagged in that department so perhaps it's my own fault, but I have spoken with other stagers who have great portfolios and they have expressed similar struggles in building a dream team with agents.

I have started going to Sunday afternoon open houses just to meet the local realtors and get a sense of their relationship to staging, and get known too.  

How did you get started, what part of your marketing or other networks got you inside with the realtors? 

Hi Yvonne:  Thanks first for the conversation that inspired this post.  You have not shared how you first generated real estate referrals.  C'mon give.  (:

Feb 07, 2008 06:32 AM
Yvonne Root
rooms b.y. root - Prescott, AZ
Home Stager - Northern Arizona
Oops, sorry Debbi. My story is just so boring. I go to open houses, I attend MLS breakfasts (after I joined our local association), I welcome new REAs to AR after they have joined (funny, I've had no success getting REAs to join AR.) I call and email those REAs who I've already met the ways I mentioned. I met one REA at my networking group. My hair dresser has introduced me to two REAs. I have given my business cards to agents in restaurants. I hear that Starbucks can be a great place to locate agents. :)  I just knock on doors. What I'm hoping is that your post will help me discover more doors to knock on -- you know, doors which I had not thought of before. Now, aren't you sorry you asked -- I'm just boring.
Feb 07, 2008 07:34 AM
Sandra Hughes
Redesigned Spaces - Northern Virginia - Fairfax, VA
Redesigned Spaces - Fairfax County, Virginia
Debbie, it is a challenge either way.  I have tried to give Realtor presentations (tried being the operative word - no such luck), I often go visit open-houses as well but only had one Realtor call me from that and then the home seller didn't want to spend the money.  At the moment my business is about 50/50 from each market - Realtor and home seller.  I think the key is word of mouth on both it is just getting enough homes behind you to start generating word of mouth contacts.  I think from the point of view of both groups once the home sells and they feel it it was a worth-wile experience they will tell others.  I think marketing to both is the best way to go.  Also, I feel a web presence is key.
Feb 07, 2008 07:44 AM
Melissa Marro
Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team - Orange Park, FL
Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging
Debbi - I started my business with e-newsletters campaigns.  I also did a lot of face to face time.  I've not had to do much more than that.  I had a few agents who understood immediately what I was saying to them and ran with it.  A lot of my business has come as a result of those partnerships.  I've never had a struggle - these basic marketing ideas have worked for me .... I do agree with both Yvonne & Sandra above as well..... face to face & internet presence are important.
Feb 07, 2008 08:04 AM
Debbi Callander
Magick Home Makeovers - Mississauga, ON
Not boring, It really helps to know what has worked for you.  
Feb 07, 2008 09:16 AM
Toronto's 2 Hounds Design: Decorating + Staging
2 Hounds Design + Home Staging - Toronto, ON

Crap! It's February and I've not done my newsletter. Thanks for the reminder Melissa!

I realize the importance of newsletters to get in front of agents...just haven't had sucess yet. There is always one or two who like to keep going back and looking at my newletters, over and over...but they are always Buyers Agents.

Feb 07, 2008 09:36 AM
Jackie Peraza
Perceptions AdverStaging(TM), LLC - Framingham, MA
Home Stager - Framingham, Massachusetts

Hi Debbi -  I don't get caught up in the Realtor(r) referral vs. other business owner referral and here's why....in either case I want to build multiple referral bases and I want them to be mutual.  I figured out early on if I was limiting myself to only marketing to Realtors(r) I wasn't able to reciprocate as well than if say I also formed an alliance with a lender, a painting contractor, a general contractor, a storage facility company, an assisted living facility...business owners of that nature.  I have much greater visibility this way and so do the companies I decide to form alliances with, because I in turn refer them.

Ultimately, for me it comes down to this...if ONE of those industries or even two starts hurting financially, it's probably unlikely that all of them will and as long as all of them do not suffer financially at the same time, my business is not dependent on the success of their business.

Oh, I forgot to answer...yes, I do get referrals from Realtors(r) and I do refer home owners that have not yet listed their homes to Realtors(r). 

Jackie

 

Feb 07, 2008 03:10 PM
Debbi Callander
Magick Home Makeovers - Mississauga, ON

Jackie:  Point very well taken.  I am not advocating marketing exclusively to to any one market, I was just wondering about people's success with both agents and homeowners, and how people are reaching their markets. 

Much of what has been shared may seem like 101, but it's good review and everybody has different tools in their box.  I meet and email agents often and though some get quite animated about staging, only one has called me for an assignment. I guess it only takes one, if it's the right one.  

I am new to my home community as well, so I must network more without the advantage of being known.   The alliance strategy sounds like it has worked for you well.  I was tossing around the idea of joining a local business networking group but have been struggling with their policy of exclusive referral and their 7 a.m. meeting time.  I will work till two in the morning, but getting up at six is tough.  

Feb 08, 2008 10:36 AM
Debbi Callander
Magick Home Makeovers - Mississauga, ON
Melissa:  I should have taken a wider tour of your website before posting this.  Your agent training and affilliation programs are certainly a testiment to your networking skills!  Kudos. 
Feb 08, 2008 11:05 AM
Kathleen Lordbock
Keller Williams Realty Professionals - Baxter, MN
Keller Williams Realty Professionals

Thus far I think that I have gotten more business from homeowners than Realtors. I don't have the figures in my head - Late you know. I do county fairs, home shows, Realtor presentations, clubs & groups and also get referrals from my decorating/design clients.

I did one house twice so far in a senior community - not the repeat business that I am going for. 

Feb 27, 2008 03:42 PM