RISMEDIA, October 2, 2010—Prospecting for business is a crucial part of any real estate professionals plan, but many brokers and agents have a laundry list of things they are trying to do when it comes to prospecting, instead of having an actual plan in place. Here, Brian Wildermuth, president and co-founder of SharperAgent discusses his five step approach to putting together a successful prospecting plan.
What are you doing to prospect for new business?
When I pose this question to brokers and agents, I usually don’t get a concise response. I usually hear a laundry list of things that agents are trying to do or would like to do, but no actual plans.
I understand why and can’t help but sympathize. I started working in sales when I was 18. That impulse to try anything and everything that might work is strong, but after all my years working in the trenches, I can tell you one thing for sure—having a real plan to prospect for new clients is much easier and has a much better rate of success.
Putting that plan together and getting it off the ground only takes a little bit of planning.
Like any other marketing activity, prospect marketing is a numbers game and your success will depend on your commitment to consistently contacting consumers who are looking for real estate professionals. No matter what your farm area looks like—if it is a traditional geographic farm or if you specialize in a particular niche of real estate purchases—you should minimize your frustration by planning a campaign for the year, negating your need to react hastily. The “shotgun” approach to marketing will not produce the results you’re looking for.
What you need to know:
1. Your competition is prospecting. Any agent planning on surviving this economy will be participating in some kind of prospecting activity. Persuasive, consumer-focused messaging will help you stand out from the pack and connect with the people you want to work with.
2. Target your message when you can. The more relevant your message is to a consumer, the higher your response rate will be. If you have access to a targeted mailing list or know the demographics of your geographic farm well, make sure your message addresses the needs of the consumer.
3. Use e-mail marketing sparingly, if at all, in prospect marketing. Real estate is a personal business, and your success depends on your ability to form a trust-based relationship with consumers. No sane person will contact you about one of the most important financial decisions they can make if you buy their e-mail address and start spamming them with information they weren’t looking for. Use e-mails for Web prospecting after you’ve made a connection with a consumer. Wasting money by buying an e-mail list won’t only have a dismal success rate, but it could also end up damaging your reputation and personal brand. That said, build a solid e-mail list whenever you can and switch consumers on to online communications as soon as you can. Most people will opt to communicate with you online, after you’ve established a connection with them.
4. Drive consumers to new technologies with traditional methods. Most marketers will advocate trying the latest and greatest tool set to drive business to your door. While new technologies continue to develop and offer new inroads to connect with consumers, traditional marketing methods—from direct mail printing to walking your farm area—continue to produce results. Instead of abandoning proven methods of prospecting, you can supplement your efforts with the new products and technologies available to you. Send out a mailer that drives traffic to your website or put up a sign in the neighborhood that gets interested parties to text you an e-mail address or cell phone number. There is no magical tool out there that will let you find new business without any time, effort, or money invested. Sorry.
5. Property marketing should be a part of prospect marketing. Despite a few positive stories, consumers are still being inundated with horror stories about the economy and the national housing market. As a real estate professional, you will need to counter the weight of that negativity by reminding consumers that in your area, homes are still being bought and sold. Use “Just Listed” and “Just Sold” postcards as well as “Market Update” flyers to remind your farm that you’re doing business and opportunity still exists.