Right after I got my license I was excited and a bit nervous. Why? Because it was now all on me! Real estate is definitely not a business in which you can sit back with your business cards in hand and hang that preverbal shingle then clients just start popping up. You have to be out there marketing yourself and getting the word out that “HEY WORLD, I’m a real estate expert and I will be your best advocate for your real estate needs”. So how do new real estate agents get the word out and start making money? That’s the question I address today as I discuss my top 4 marketing strategies for new agents.
The First and Key Strategy is to Work Your Contact List (I call it my database)!
I consider my database the lifeline of my business. If I’m not constantly feeding it and nurturing it then my business starts to whither away.
When I first started in real estate I discovered early on a secret that made me even more excited about this profession.
The more work I put into actively communicating and growing my database the more business opportunities that came my way.
Some go you may say a big fat “DUH, that’s no secret!”. However in my experience in the corporate world I’ve seen numerous examples of people doing little work while getting big results and others working their tail off (and yes, doing the same quality work) and seemingly get no where. So it was refreshing to me to see that the more work I put into communicating with my database on a regular basis and helping it grow, the more I’m “rewarded” for my efforts with new clients and sales. I have contact with people in my database regularly through various methods such as personal phone calls, emails, postcards or even handwritten letters. It is important to communicate with your database on a regularly so that when they need a real estate expert, you are the first one that comes to mind. For more details and different ways to contact and the frequency then I highly encourage you to read my favorite real estate book “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent”.
The Second Strategy, Get out There and Add to Your Database!
Next, You need to get out in the market and meet potential clients. One easy way to meet potential clients is to host an open house. As I was getting started, I hosted open houses for other agents (and still do). Some agents may tell you that open houses are waste of time and that it only satisfies the clients request. Well, they are flat out WRONG. I have two primary goals when hosting an open house. One is to drum up interest in the listing with the hope that the right buyer will come and make an offer (low probability of success). The second and most important goal is to make new contacts of potential buyers and sellers (much higher probability to succeed). It’s been my experience that other agents in the firm are usually looking for someone to host open houses for their listings for reasons such as scheduling conflicts so don’t be afraid to ask for the opportunity. I’ve had great success finding buying and some selling clients with open house. Even if people are not interested immediately in buying (just looking for now) if you stay in touch they will more likely use you when looking turns into something more serious. Gary Keller said in the Millionaire Real Estate Agent that every listing should generate at least one buying client and I can personally testify that statement is true.
The Third Strategy, Don’t sweat the Small Stuff
In my mind, working your contact list and getting out and meeting potential clients at open houses are two of the quickest and most efficient strategies to get your business jump started. But there are small things that can derail these two big strategies if you’re not careful. Below are some obstacles that I had to overcome when first getting started and I hope that by sharing my experiences it can help you either avoid or more quickly overcome the same types of issues.
- Why will people higher me with little to no experience? People buying homes like to work with people with experience so how do you overcome this? When I was getting started I learned quick to not volunteer the fact that I was new to most clients. Friends and family knew of course. But hear this, if they asked about my experience, I absolutely did not lie (you should NEVER LIE – it will always come back to bite you). What I did do was to make sure that I knew the facts about the market, what was selling in the neighborhoods and got them the answers that I didn’t know very quickly. Basically, the more you know about the market and your business the less reason they will have to question your experience. Essentially, if you’re going to market yourself as a real estate expert then you need to start being the expert.
- I’m uncomfortable marketing to my friends and family – I type this loudly – GET OVER IT! I learned quick that my friends and family can be some of my best resources and advocates. With that said, I try very hard not to come across like a “sales” person peddling some cheap product. I believe that you should build a trusting relationship clients. With friends and family you (should) already have the trust relationship so you don’t need to oversell. Just provide them with gentle reminders that you are a real estate expert in your market.
Let’s go down a rabbit trail for a minute. One thing I will caution you on – please try not to get too upset when your friends and family choose another agent over you. When they do this (and several will during your career), it will sting and you might get angry but remember that they have their reasons. Some reasons I’ve heard include:
– They do not want close friends knowing intimate details concerning their finances.
– They have other close(r) friends that they promised the business.
– They are using the agent that sold them their current home (they are already comfortable with them).
No matter the excuse, it will hurt so please work on thickening that skin of yours. It’s not worth loosing someone close to you. Honestly, I still struggle with this.
- I don’t have extra money to put in to marketing. I get several calls a week about people wanting to give me quality leads in my market for a not so small fee. I have never worked with these companies so I will not speak badly of them. I’m sure they serve a good purpose or they would not be in business too long. However, I’m old school in that I really like the grass roots approach of getting out there and growing my own leads. When you’re getting started, it’s my opinion that you don’t need to invest in a ton in marketing materials or lead generation companies. Rather you should be out there working your network and get out in the community. Like I mentioned earlier, work open houses to meet the buyers. If you have a good laptop then go to a coffee shop and work and meeting new people. After you sell your first house or two then you can start saving for a marketing fund to invest in growing your brand in other ways. However, you do need to invest in a few key items such as business cards, a quality picture of yourself (professional head shot) for print marketing materials like open house fliers. There are plenty of inexpensive companies online to get your business cards and other marketing materials. I encourage you to ask around the office and do your homework to save you some money.
Fourth and Final Strategy is to Put your Plans into Action
This strategy to me is more of a life lesson for everyone everywhere to work on everyday. We will all run into various obstacles that we can and will overcome. But the biggest obstacle the I’ve seen and struggle with daily is plan execution. It’s easy to layout a great plan to succeed. So remember:
“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” – Peter Trucker
“A strategy, even a great one, doesn’t implement itself” – Unknown
I’m a dreamer. I know this about myself. But I also know that if I don’t work a little towards my dreams and goals everyday that no one else is going to do it for me. So get into the habit now of working a little towards your goals everyday.
Wrapping it All Up in a Pretty Bow
The market is getting stronger everyday so I caution new and old agents alike with one last tip before I close. Markets fluctuate. Growing your business today in a strong growing market may seem easy at first but one day the market will start to weaken and when it does, the agents that work the (or similar) strategies I talked about above everyday will have a better chance to survive. I started in 2007 in the what has been called the worst real estate market in our lifetime and I still grew my business because I worked at it everyday. As a new agent, you need to really put hard time and effort into building these strategies so that they become habits. Communicating with your contact list and adding to it everyday should be a habit. Getting out in your market and seeing how it’s changing should become a habit. As you develop your strategies and they become daily habits, you are creating a path for your dreams and goals to come true. I wish you the best of luck and hope it’s a smooth one.