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By Bill Miles

RISMEDIA, May 30, 2007-Develop an expertise. Become known for something. Own a niche.

No matter how it is phrased, this concept, ‘niche marketing,’ is the most effective real estate marketing strategy used by real estate agents today. With over 1 million real estate agents (in addition to thousands of brokers, investors and mortgage companies) competing fiercely with mountains of marketing material, the only way to break through and be heard by your target consumer is to develop a niche where you clearly stand out.

While there are thousands of viable niches to pursue, the classic, time-tested niche is a neighborhood. Every real estate professional lives in one and has an equal opportunity to become its expert. Neighborhoods are easy to find, and relevant addresses and homeowners can be quickly identified. Additionally, marketing to this niche does not have to be costly because you can easily walk the neighborhood or post information in a central location.

So, how do you begin executing on this strategy? First, identify your target area. Second, become educated in all matters relevant to the target audience. Third, constantly deliver value to your target audience, and soon you will have them seeking you out.

Assuming you have identified your target market, what does it take to be a neighborhood expert?

Here are 10 key things to know:

1. Know the community leaders – network! Make an extra effort to meet the HOA board, school principals, local fire and police chiefs, local merchants, post office employees or town hall employees.

2. Know the local real estate market – Know every home in the neighborhood, including when it was built, who built it, when it was last sold, for how much and who lives there now. Know as much as you can about all of the recent real estate transactions in the neighborhood. Track the listings and home sales, be able to easily reference them and know the area real estate trends.

3. Know the schools – Know the names of all the schools (public, private and parochial), their boundaries, the principals and teachers, the strengths and challenges of each school, their rankings and teacher to student ratios. Attend PTO or school board meetings to meet the leaders and parents. Also, keep a list of child-care options and visit them yearly.

4. Know the local amenities – Where are the parks? Is there a great dog park? Is there a community pool or recreation center? What sports leagues are available? Is there a concert series or town event? When is the local garage sale? When is trash day?

5. Know the local businesses – Meet local business owners, including owners of the nearest market, dry cleaner, diner, movie theater, bookstore and coffee shop. Offer to include them in your marketing efforts by adding them to your Web site or to a community book you distribute. Even offer to distribute a coupon that would be valuable to your target audience through your business or on your neighborhood Web site. In turn, ask them to promote the site in their store. Visit the Better Business Bureau and meet local newspaper editors.

6. Know about clubs, associations and churches – Become familiar with the Lion’s club, Boy/Girl Scouts and local churches. Meet the local sports clubs (youth soccer, swim team and little league). Understand their offerings and ask about other clubs.

7. Know about public works issues – Read the local paper, talk to employees at town hall and attend key political meetings.

8. Find out about any neighborhood traditions – Know if and when the neighborhood participates in block parties, garage sales or community center activities.

9. HOA meetings – If the neighborhood has a homeowner’s association, attend a few meetings and let them see you are interested, even if you don’t live in the neighborhood. Keep a contact list and the key documents of the HOA for your seller or buyer’s reference.

10. Know the local job market – Know the key employers and the overall status of the job market. Know accurate drive times to major metropolitan areas and key destinations.

As you meet the local leaders, school principals and local merchants, keep their respective business cards for your listing and buyer presentations. Show potential clients your notes from the HOA meetings. Impress prospects with your intimate knowledge of the neighborhood and extensive relationships with community leaders.

Finally, be sure to directly market to the neighborhood and walk it at least four times a year. Become informed. Making this effort will give you a huge advantage over every other real estate agent attempting to do business in this neighborhood.

“For generations, real estate professionals have been building their businesses by focusing on a neighborhood, developing their knowledge of the area and letting everyone know about it. Becoming a trusted resource in this manner is a time-tested winning strategy,” explains Michael Russer, Mr. Internet®.

These 10 points of knowledge are key because they tie back to consumer value, establish your expertise (particularly with respect to real estate), and easily convert into marketing messages. Neighborhood marketing is easily manageable and an effective strategy that is becoming more and more critical for real estate professionals in today’s market.

To further understand the benefits of niche marketing, read Niche Marketing Is Key For Real Estate Agents (http://rismedia.com/2007-03-15/niche-marketing-is-key-for-real-estate-agents/) and Determining a Niche Market Is As Easy As 1, 2, 3 (http://rismedia.com/2007-04-14/21456/).

Bill Miles is EVP of Connecting Neighbors, a division of Reply! Inc. Contact Bill at bmiles@connectingneighbors.com.

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