As a real estate agent, it's common to experience moments of existential angst. The following stats may make you wonder if you can carve out a sustainable niche in your local market.
- 5,250,000 existing homes sold in 2015
(Nat'l Assn. of REALTORS)
- 86,400 real estate brokerage firms in the US
(US Census Bureau)
- 2,000,000 active real estate licenses in the US
(Assn. of Real Estate License Law Officials)
You may be tempted to believe it's impossible to be unique in a world where your clients are barraged by marketing messages. Take courage, my friends. Earning a spot in your client's awareness is not only still possible, today's technology makes it easier and cheaper to differentiate yourself among a crowded field of competitors.
Here are a few best practices that are effective.
1. Become an expert - a niche specialist
There's no substitute for competence. Head to head, the competent professional wins more often than the incompetent. But generalized competence is not sufficient to differentiate you. To establish a unique and defensible place in the mind of your market, establish yourself as an expert in a specific niche. Choose one that comes naturally, that fits with your passions and opportunities. Here are some ideas:>
- Is your market up and coming? Become an expert in the economics of your area. Learn about what new businesses are planned or trends in property values for areas like yours.
- Marketing to Millenials? Adapt to their preference for online research by guiding them to valuable, unbiased content. Write emails or blog posts that link to outside content.
You get the idea. Many agents think that they should be an expert in everything. Nrrowing your focus is often more effective.
2. Communication Consistently - and with value
If you're investing exclusively in reaching new clients, you're likely neglecting most valuable source of business - your existing contacts.
Make sure that you maintain communication with your current contacts. Offer them regular market reports, campaigns, and newsletters. And always. provide information they will find timely and valuable. Even if they aren’t in the market now, if you communicate with them consistently, they will remember you when they, their friends, or their family are looking for a real estate agent.
3. Build permission - then use it
According to NAR, 91% of all REALTORS never contact the buyer or seller of a home after closing. WHAT??? That's almost real estate malpractice. You just facilitaed a six to seven-figure transaction and can't be bothered to call or write?
The effective agent finds, one by one, people who will benefit from their expertise (see above) and then earns the right to maintain a relationship. Then, send them a newsletter, a market report, an openhouse announcement or a comparable that recently sold in their neighborhood.
The most successful agents are the ones that stay in touch. They reconnect with their past clients and new prospects via email and social media. This has never been more true for real estate agents and brokers than it is now.
4. Get (and use) testimonials
Testimonials can be a powerful validator of your expertise. Post sale, follow up with all your clients personally and ask them to discuss their experience working with you in writing. You may want to give them an overview of some things they could cover in their testimonial. Make sure you get their permission to post it on your website or feature in an email. If they are hesitant or seem like they don’t have time, a brief quote over the phone or in person is a great testimonial as well.
Again, almost everything of value requires effort. The effort you invest in a targeted strategy of differentiation can be one of the most valuable investments you make.